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Fashion, Devotion and Contemplation

Leino, Marika

Fashion, Devotion and Contemplation

The Status and Functions of Italian Renaissance Plaquettes

Year of Publication: 2013

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2013. 368 pp., 159 b/w ill.
ISBN 978-3-03911-068-1 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.610 kg, 1.345 lbs

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Book synopsis

Italian Renaissance ‘plaquettes’ are often stored and displayed as a homogeneous category or genre in museum collections due to their apparently uniform small relief format. This has resulted in a scholarly literature that has concentrated largely on connoisseurship and taken the form of catalogues, thereby both responding to and propagating the myth of this classification. However, what is often forgotten, or buried deep in scattered catalogue entries, is that during the Renaissance this small relief format was regularly mass-produced and employed extensively in a variety of different contexts. Far from being a homogeneous category, plaquettes were originally viewed as many separate types of object, including pieces for personal adornment, liturgical objects, domestic artefacts, and models for architecture and painting. For the Renaissance consumer, the commission of a hat badge with a personal motto, the purchase of an off-the-shelf inkwell or the acquisition of a small relief for his study were separate concerns.
The aim of this book is to redress the balance by examining these reliefs in terms of their use, alongside broader issues regarding the status of such objects within visual, scholarly and artistic culture from the fifteenth century to the early sixteenth.


Contents: Origins and production of plaquette reliefs – Dissemination of plaquette designs in other contemporary art – Antique influences and all’antica creations - the relationship of plaquette reliefs with antiquity – Religious demand and uses – Plaquettes as fashion accessories - the function of plaquette reliefs as hat badges and sword pommels – Plaquettes and Rock Crystals: Valerio Belli and Giovanni Bernardi.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Marika Leino is Lecturer in the History of Art at Oxford Brookes University. Her research focuses on Renaissance sculpture, the history of collections and the construction of status. She holds a PhD from the Warburg Institute and was formerly a Henry Moore Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and a lecturer at Christie’s Education, London.