Model Overview of Italian Renaissance Maiolica
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Panel in the 'beautitul' maiolica style of 16th century, Faenza, c. 16th century, Bargello Museum

The most useful model for the purposes of my object analysis is one based on a synthesis of the four models listed in the table below. Prown's models, particularly his "Style as Evidence" approach, forms the background to my model because it takes into account the importance of style in analyzing objects. In relation to Renaissance maiolica, style consideration is an integral step for moving towards a broader conceptual understanding of the objects themselves.

Three other models which are extremely useful in providing detailed analysis of maiolica are listed in the table below. Maiolica, as a decorative object, held an important place in the social and cultural aspects of Renaissance life, particularly in the rituals of pregnancy, childbirth, marriage and warfare. For this reason, Montgomery's and Fleming's methodologies are extremely useful in their strong emphasis upon the descriptive elements of the object, and in their analysis relating objects to both past and present cultures. Prown's "Mind in Matter" model is also necessary for extending the emotional and intellectual response of the viewer into further speculation and the formation of a plan which allows investigation of the objects through further research, something which maiolica analysis requires.

Other methodological approaches I find interesting, but are not specifically listed in my model, are works are listed in the General Bibliography, specifically Jean-Claude Dupont's approach in his article "The Meaning of Objects: The Poker" and Kenneth Ames' "Meaning in Artifacts: Hall Furnishings in Victorian America". Both essays present an approach based on the interpretation of objects upon either their related uses and implications (as in Dupont) or in the skillful use of documentary sources to interpret the societal significance attached to certain artifacts when understood within their proper setting (as in Ames). Jacques Maquet's approach is also helpful in its belief that artifacts are signs to be read for their connotative meanings, rather than simply their function and role in society. Since implicit cultural meanings are bound by temporal and geographical contexts and are thus changeable, historians need to be aware that utilizing objects as sources for history requires interpretation of varying sorts: as symbols, as images, as indicators, and as referents (from the less culture-specific interpretation to one entirely dependent on a particular culture), which aids in substantiating both the object and its cultural framework. These approaches will thus help direct my object analysis findings into the interpretation of maiolica artifacts as indicators of societal norms and cultural implications.

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Jules Prown's Model "Style as Evidence" (See Reference)
Jules Prown's Model "Mind in Matter" (See Reference)
Charles F. Montgomery's Model "The Connoisseurship of Artifacts" (See Reference)
E. McClung Fleming's Model "Artifact Study: A Proposed Model" (See Reference)

The steps in Prown's Model are based on the belief that objects reflect cultural values in their style, and that this data is of value in formal cultural analysis.

1. Look at the object and describe its obvious features.

2. Describe the object's materials.

3. Recognize any elements of design or decoration.

4. Compare it to other objects of a similar vein.

5. Determine any decorative aspects as being iconographic

6. Establish your object within a historical or philosophical context.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The steps in this model differs from the other in its scope- it focusses on direct object analysis and the response it inspires within the viewer, and moves into an emotional framework, which considers stylistic aspects in their ability to motivate certain responses within the viewer.

1. Determine the object's internal and external characteristics by determining its content, such as decorative aspects, and its substantial elements, such as its physical description.

2. Provide a formal analysis of the materials and visual characteristics of the object in question, including aspects such as line and form.

3. Deduce the relationship between the object to the perceived.

4. Sensory engagement: the viewer engages the senses to appreciate the object.

5. Intellectual engagement: the idea of the function of the object is made apparent.

6. Emotional reponse: analyzing the kinds of feelings inspired by the object.

7. Spectulation: the analysis of the object from all levels, including one's own opinions.

8. Theories/Hypothesis: How the object relates in wider contexts and various fields, such as anthropology, ethnography, art history, design and engineering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montgomery's approach is based on the high decorative arts philosophy, which places all the emphasis on the object itself, and does not give insight to the viewer. It is helpful,however, in systematically describing the obvious physical characteristics of the object in question and historically contextualizing it.

1. The general appearance of the object is described.

2. The form of the object, including its measurements and proportions, is recorded.

3. Ornamental details are noticed, and analyzed for their aesthetic value.

4. Colour is described, especially if changed over time.

5. A material analysis of the object, which may include close visual inspection or scientific methods, is made.

6. A description of the techniques employed by the craftsman, including how the object was made and the personal idiosyncracies of the maker.

7. Trade practices are investigated, including a historical understanding of the way the object was made.

8. The function of the object, its style, and its dating, is finally made, to historically place the object.

 

 

 

 

 

Fleming's model is based on the idea that object analysis should move from the obvious physical analysis to its classification. It should then be evaluated within the context of modern culture and the culture within which it was created.

1. The object analysis begins with an identification of the object's materials.

2. The second stage is a description of its design, style and function, which is part of the identification stage, but also moves into the evaluation stage, which judges the object's qualities.

3. The evaluation stage takes the physical attributes of the object and categorizes them in wider categories.

4. This stage takes the intended and actual functions of the object and places it within the culture within it was produced.

5. Finally, the object is interpretated according to the cultural values of our times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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