Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy, 1300-1600 / Edition 1

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Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy represents a departure from previous studies, both in its focus on demand and in its emphasis on the history of the material culture of the West. By demonstrating that the roots of modern consumer society can be found in Renaissance Italy, Richard Goldthwaite offers a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on the history of modern consumerism—a movement which he regards as a positive force for the formation of new attitudes about things that is a defining characteristic of modern culture.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review

Will surely elicit much discussion and reexamination of older theses about the connection between Italian economic, social and political life and the amazing culture we know as the Renaissance.

Art History

A remarkable achievement.

Library Journal
This book is essentially a lengthy and well-organized response to the deceptively simple query posed in the introduction: Why did Italy produce so much art in the Renaissance? Renaissance scholar Goldthwaite ( The Building of Renaissance Florence: An Economic and Social History , LJ 2/1/81), here examines the remarkable proliferation of art in early modern Europe and the preeminence of Italian art during that period. What is really unique here is the author's meticulous placement of Italian art--a subject nearly always considered from an aesthetic point of view--within its larger economic context. After setting the scene in an introductory chapter describing the economic background of Renaissance Italy, Goldthwaite analyzes at length the need for art production within the milieu of the church as well as in the secular world. Although the book is written in a dense, academic style, this study of both art history and economic history is at once groundbreaking and authoritative. Highly recommended for academic and art libraries.-- Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Goldthwaite (history, Johns Hopkins U.) argues that Italy's special place in the economic world of late medieval Europe led to the massing of excess wealth by merchant and noble families and religious houses. Art was separated out from the rest of material culture, as no where else in Europe, because it was in practical demand to decorate the newly constructed religious houses, and to place in private houses and public spaces as symbols of the merchants' new status. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801852350
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 0.63 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Table of Contents

The Economic Background 11
The Level of Wealth 13
The Structure of Wealth 40
Decline and Conclusion 62
The Demand for Religious Art 69
The Consumption Model 72
Variables of Consumer Behavior 81
The Material Culture of the Church and Incipient Consumerism 129
Demand in the Secular World 149
Italy and Traditional Consumption Habits 150
Urban Foundations of New Consumption Habits 176
The Culture of Consumption 212
Consumption and the Generation of Culture 243
Index 257
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