Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories

Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories

Language: English

Pages: 388

ISBN: 0472051172

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Ornamentalism is the first book to focus on Renaissance accessories, their histories and meanings. The collection's eminent contributors bring accessories to the center of a discussion about material culture, dress, and adornment, exploring their use, significance, and multiple lives. Defining an “accessory” in the broadest sense—including scents, veils, handkerchiefs, lingerie, codpieces, dildos, jewels, ruffs, wax seals, busks, shoes, scissors, and even boys—the book provides a rich cultural history that’s eclectic and bold, including discussions of bodily functions, personal hygiene, and sexuality.

Lively, well-written, and richly illustrated with color plates, Ornamentalism will appeal to scholars of the material past and social practice, and those interested in fashion studies, manners and morals, gender and sexuality, theater and performance.

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The novelty of the practice meant that no single guild had control over the processes, leading to a remarkable rise in entrepreneurial enterprises. Although much of the work on early modern innovation has stressed the importance of market specialization and segmentation, the initial wave of perfume creation may have been faciliated by the fact that, even in highly regulated cities, almost anyone with access to the ingredients could make and sell these products. Louis Waldman has shown that

af‹liation with the coveted circle of acceptability and good manners, what Giovanni Della Casa in Galateo calls the “benevolence of others with whom we live.”7 However, while the handkerchief promised such bene‹ts to women, I wonder if they were always successful in this endeavor. Did the handkerchief allow them to be welcomed and accepted as creatures 60 / ornamentalism of virtue and distinctive good taste, or did the darker, more unsavory qualities of the handkerchief, like the negative

fantasy because they materialize those fantasies in their visual emblems and succinct Busks, Bodices, Bodies / 87 inscriptions. A French metal busk owned by Anne-Marie-Louise d’Orléans, Duchesse de Montpensier, is inscribed: “How I envy you the happiness that is yours, resting softly on her ivory white breast. Let us divide between us, if you please, this glory. You will be there during the day and I shall be there at night.”7 Like Donne, the duchess’s lover envies the busk—although, also

Miss, let me see that delicate Busk, I will write a Distick upon it, and present it to you.”14 The “very foolish and whorish” Gartrude accepts the offer, whereupon Sel‹sh kisses “that happy Busk, that goes so near your lovely body.” Sel‹sh is halfquoting Donne, whose “happy busk” did “stand so nie.” Like a ring, a busk could be inscribed with a posy, a lover’s words that, whether comically or not, corporeally touch the beloved to whom they are written. The busk was most often the medium of a

long-standing client and immediately cried, “Oh, what stinks, Oh, what stinks,” an exclamation that another prostitute in the room took personally.1 The trial proved complex, but Camilla argued that she had not been referring to her rival as “stinky,” but to the garland of musk that her lover wore in his hat.2 The offending object was one of a plethora of new forms of perfumed accessories that were widely distributed across Europe in the second half of the sixteenth century. They included scented

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