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Fashion, Devotion and Contemplation

The Status and Functions of Italian Renaissance Plaquettes

Marika Leino

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.


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image: Andrea Briosco (1470–1504), called Riccio, Triumph of a Hero, bronze relief, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. This publication was financially supported by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art. isbn 978-3-03911-068-1 (print) isbn 978-3-0353-0422-0 (eBook) Contents Acknowledgements vii List of Illustrations ix Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Chapter 2 Origins and Production 11 Chapter 3 Agents of Dissemination: Plaquette Designs in Other Media 33 Chapter 4 Antique Inf luences and all’antica Creations 117 Chapter 5 Religious Demand 163 Chapter 6 Fashion Accessories 189 Chapter 7 Plaquettes and Rock Crystals: Valerio Belli and Giovanni Bernardi 223 vi Chapter 8 The Collector’s Study: Collecting and Display 241 Appendix 1 Plaquette Designs in Manuscript Illuminations, Paintings, Drawings and Engravings 273 Appendix 2 Plaquettes as Sword Pommels 289 Appendix 3 Plaquette Designs on Lombard Architectural Monuments 299 Appendix 4 A Case Study: Valerio Belli’s Altar Set for Pope Clement VII 315 Bibliography 323 Index 357 Photographic Credits 369

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