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Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance / Edition 1

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Overview


Most people would be hard pressed to name a famous artist from Renaissance France. Yet sixteenth-century French kings believed they were the heirs of imperial Rome and commissioned a magnificent array of visual arts to secure their hopes of political ascendancy with images of overflowing abundance. With a wide-ranging yet richly detailed interdisciplinary approach, Rebecca Zorach examines the visual culture of the French Renaissance, where depictions of sacrifice, luxury, fertility, violence, metamorphosis, and sexual excess are central. Zorach looks at the cultural, political, and individual roles that played out in these artistic themes and how, eventually, these aesthetics of exuberant abundance disintegrated amidst perceptions of decadent excess.

Throughout the book, abundance and excess flow in liquids-blood, milk, ink, and gold-that highlight the materiality of objects and the human body, and explore the value (and values) accorded to them. The arts of the lavish royal court at Fontainebleau and in urban centers are here explored in a vibrant tableau that illuminates our own contemporary relationship to excess and desire.

From marvelous works by François Clouet to oversexed ornamental prints to Benvenuto Cellini's golden saltcellar fashioned for Francis I, Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold covers an astounding range of subjects with precision and panache, producing the most lucid, well-rounded portrait of the cultural politics of the French Renaissance to date.

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Editorial Reviews

Mary D. Sheriff

"Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold does not merely provide a sustained English language consideration of French Renaissance art, it also offers to the discipline of art history new possibilities for configuring a cultural history of any period. This thoroughly original work is careful, elegant, and impressive, and will make important contributions to the history of art, the history of French literature and culture, and Renaissance studies."
Joseph Koerner

"Interdisciplinary is too anodyne a term for this searching portrait of the French Renaissance. Zorach plunges us into the culture as into a liquid flow, where texts and images, persons and things, production and consumption, all intermingle. Passionate in its intellectual commitments, and richly worked, like the objects it studies, this tale of an 'aesthetics of excess' will haunt our understanding of the true sacrifices underlying artistic achievement."
Evelyn Welch

"Zorach’s work offers an exciting, innovative perspective on the French
Renaissance. Linking Italian artists and French court society to ceramics,
print culture and the economy of sixteenth-century Europe, this book provides a fresh, interdisciplinary approach to a place and period of great fascination. It should be essential reading for art historians and historians alike and all those who are interested in the inter-relationships between visual and material objects and the social worlds in which they were created."
Peter Stallybrass

"Rebecca Zorach's innovative and exciting account of the French Renaissance illuminates the monarchical and sexual politics of ornament and the historical relations between vegetable and human abundance. It shows how the antique itself became an antic figure of excess, mutability, and perversity."
Renaissance Magazine - Brenda Ralph Lewis

"Rebecca Zorach’s brilliantly written, exhaustively researched, and superbly illustrated book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the royal court of renaissance France, and the intellectual life of contemporary towns and cities. The French Renaissance may be less familiar to many readers than the Italian, but Zorach proves that the rebirth of ancient Greek and Roman culture was just as vibrant and inventive in France as it was in Italy. . . . A truly original book that deftly encapsulates the meaning of art, materialism, literature, society, and politics in a single readable volume."
H-France - Ann W. Ramsey

"Readers wil see and understand a profoundly revealed sixteenth century thanks to art historian Rebecca Zorach. . . . The themes she explores -- fertility, sacrifice, and eroticism -- illuminate fundamental aspects of the period that have never been gathered coherently within one conceptual framework. . . . The ready made audience for this work among historians is obvious: cultural historians with a passion for theory. The magnificent and copious illustrations make the material readily available to the reader not intimately familiar with the art. This is an extremely valuable work that renders the aesthetic of the French Renaissance compellingly interesting to the general historian."
Print Quarterly - Catherine Jenkins

"Zorach brings together an impressive array of literary, historical, theoretical and visual references from the sixteenth century to the present day, thus surrounding each work with a rich pattern of associations."
caa.reviews - Laura M. Hogan

"A wide-ranging study of the elite visual culture of France under the Valois-
Angoulême dynasty. . . . The book's plentiful, high-quality illustrations exemplify both the author's arguments as well as the incredible fertility of artistic production during this period."
Renaissance Quarterly - Giancarlo Fiorenza

"This book is as rich, copious, and complex as the media it interprets: painting, sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, medals and coins . . . with particular attention paid to the value--both economic and symbolic--of materials either represented or employed in the artistic process."
Renaissance Magazine

"Rebecca Zorach’s brilliantly written, exhaustively researched, and superbly illustrated book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the royal court of renaissance France, and the intellectual life of contemporary towns and cities. The French Renaissance may be less familiar to many readers than the Italian, but Zorach proves that the rebirth of ancient Greek and Roman culture was just as vibrant and inventive in France as it was in Italy. . . . A truly original book that deftly encapsulates the meaning of art, materialism, literature, society, and politics in a single readable volume."—Brenda Ralph Lewis, Renaissance Magazine

— Brenda Ralph Lewis

H-France

"Readers wil see and understand a profoundly revealed sixteenth century thanks to art historian Rebecca Zorach. . . . The themes she explores -- fertility, sacrifice, and eroticism -- illuminate fundamental aspects of the period that have never been gathered coherently within one conceptual framework. . . . The ready made audience for this work among historians is obvious: cultural historians with a passion for theory. The magnificent and copious illustrations make the material readily available to the reader not intimately familiar with the art. This is an extremely valuable work that renders the aesthetic of the French Renaissance compellingly interesting to the general historian."--Ann W. Ramsey, H-France

— Ann W. Ramsey

Print Quarterly

"Zorach brings together an impressive array of literary, historical, theoretical and visual references from the sixteenth century to the present day, thus surrounding each work with a rich pattern of associations."

— Catherine Jenkins

caa.reviews

"A wide-ranging study of the elite visual culture of France under the Valois-

Angoulême dynasty. . . . The book's plentiful, high-quality illustrations exemplify both the author's arguments as well as the incredible fertility of artistic production during this period."

— Laura M. Hogan

Renaissance Quarterly

"This book is as rich, copious, and complex as the media it interprets: painting, sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, medals and coins . . . with particular attention paid to the value--both economic and symbolic--of materials either represented or employed in the artistic process."

— Giancarlo Fiorenza

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226989372
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Rebecca Zorach is assistant professor of art history at the University of Chicago. She is coeditor of Embodied Utopias.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Preface: Figures of Excess
1. Incomprehensible Abundance? An Introduction
2. Blood
Sacrifice and Generation at Fontainebleau
The Galerie François Premier
Iconology
Fontainebleau Nova Pandora
Death and Rebirth
The Death of Adonis
The Aesthetics of Sacrifice
Impossible Bodies
3. Milk
Visual Rhetorics
Nature/France
Cybele and Artemis
Fertile Gaul's Fat Breasts
Charles and Elizabeth
The Lust of the Earth
Natural Antiquity
4. Ink
Goods, Design, Desire
Ornament and the "School of Fontainebleau"
Copia and Curiosity
The Golden Fleece
Inanimate Reproduction
Problems of Number
5. Gold
The Other Side of Increase
Living Gold
Mutability
Royal Responses
The New World
Inflation and the Hubris of Kings
The Golden Age
Circe's Golden Rod
Counterfeit Bodies
Epilogue: Animation and De-animation
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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