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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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Appendix 1 Plaquette Designs in Manuscript Illuminations, Paintings, Drawings and Engravings

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This appendix lists contemporary manuscript illuminations, paintings, drawings and engravings which feature designs based on, or related to, plaquette designs. The sources for this listing are twofold: references in plaquette and other literature and the author’s own observations. The Appendix is divided into four sections, depending on the type of plaquette- related imagery depicted. Section 1 lists designs based on ancient engraved gems, which are also found in plaquette form. The entries are listed by work of art (or manu- script) and each individual design is described with subject of gem; name of artist of related plaquette; and catalogue references (these have been limited to three: Molinier 1886, Bange 1922 and Pope-Hennessy 1965). Section 2 lists contemporary plaquette designs depicted in manuscript illuminations, paintings, drawings and engravings. It is arranged in two separate categories: A. Where plaquette designs are utilized in a decorative role; and B. Where a plaquette design relates to a picture in its entirety. The entries are listed by work of art (or manuscript) and each individual design is described with subject; name of artist of related plaquette; and catalogue references (these have been limited to three: Molinier 1886, Bange 1922 and Pope-Hennessy 1965). Section 3 lists works which have no direct relationship with plaquette designs, but which have been related to the work in question in previous literature. These relations are here not considered valid. These entries are listed by: plaquette design; name of artist of supposed related plaquette; catalogue references (these have been limited to...

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