Historical Context Annotated Bibliography for Renaissance Maiolica
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The texts in this bibliography situates maiolica within the social norms and ethics of the time, and the cultural beliefs surrounding artistic production and consumption.

Peter Burke and Richard Goldthwaithe give a more general perspective of the culture and economy of the Renaissance period, whereas Margaret King and Merry Weisner indicate the nature of gender relations of this time and the limited roles available to women.

Konrad Eisenbichler and Albert Rabil use first-hand accounts to develop a case study which portray levels of masculinity and femininity in Renaissance society, and the symbols associated with these categories.

The wider historical sphere of Renaissance society locates and situates Renaissance maiolica in the reality of the times. Also, it indicates new implications for material culture analysis in general, such as the kinds of wares used by differing gender groups (e.g. the wares used by cloistered nuns as opposed to rich women, and how that affected their status, attitude and daily rituals).


Brucker, Eugene. Giovanni and Lusanna. New York: Charles Scribner's Press, 1986.

Abstract: This highly intriguing and entertaining case study of a widow who claims to have been secretly married to a rich Florentine nobleman is significant in its reflection of the nature of marriage contracts, laws and gender relations during the early fifteenth century. The case of Giovanni and Lusanna was brought before the ecclesiastical court in 1430, and was influential in forming standardized marriage practices during the Council of Trent. The eventual result, where the marriage was verified to have taken place, was a decisive victory for the bride and had an important impact on the legal leverage held by women in the marriage contract.

Burke, Peter. The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Abstract: Burke takes a broader approach to the description of culture and society of Renaissance Italy, by describing the impact of humanism, the patronage of the arts, the role of ritual within the cultural composition of this period. With regards to Renaissance society, Burke describes the social hierarchies, gender differences and the division between Church and State. With this study, the relationship between humanistic ideals and the shape of society is clarified.

Eisenbichler, Konrad. "Bronzino's Portrait of Guidobaldo II Della Rovere." Renaissance and Reformation 13, no. 4 (1988): 13-20.

Abstract: A Renaissance history professor at Victoria College, University of Toronto, Eisenbichler takes an art historian's approach to unravelling the multifold implications of Bronzino's portrait of della Rovere. Of central interest is the large codpiece, which in its immensely exaggerated form, had much to say about the virility of della Rovere. Eisenbichler's approach to analyzing the portrait, by looking at specific qualities of the piece and relating it to documentary sources, is a useful example of an object study as it reflects wider societal norms and values.

Goldthwaite, Richard A. "The Empire of Things: Consumer Demand in Renaissance Italy." Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy. F. W. and Patricia Simons eds. Kent, 155-75. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Abstract: Goldthwaite, a specialist in Renaissance history, takes an economist's approach to the understanding of the consumption of material goods produced in Italy and shipped to neighbouring European countries and the Levant. Along with the inventory of linens, armaments and luxury goods popular during this period, Goldthwaite also traces the popularity of maiolica during this period which was generated by their association to certain social rituals of gift exchange.

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Goldthwaite, Richard A.. Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy 1300-1600. Baltimore: 1993.

Abstract: Art is, in Goldthwaite's view, an object produced for economic ends, in order to fulfill the demand for luxury items in response to the rise of the rich mercantile class during the early modern period. By examining primary documents, Goldthwaite uncovers that much of the wealth and demand for art came from the patronage of the upper classes, both in the state and religious realms, and was a highly regulated enterprise as a result.

King, Margaret L. Women of the Renaissance. New York: SUNY Press, 1983.

Abstract: A modern feminist study which takes a revisionist approach to the understanding of the various roles and genders of Renaissance women and the "obdurate substratum of the Renaissance thinking about women.", as King puts it, held by the majority of men during the Renaissance. The study, based on archival research in Venice, Rome, Florence and other major archives, is a significant contribution to the interpretation of women's roles in Renaissance society.

Rabil, Albert. Laura Cereta, Quattrocento Humanist. New York: Medieval and Renaissance texts and Studies, 1981.

Abstract: Based on letters written by Laura Cereta, this biography of an intriguing woman who in her thirty years became a humanist, was widowed, taught philosophy, and exchanged letters with many learned men and women during the mid-fifteenth century. This woman's life depicts the difficulties associated with becoming an intellectual in a confined society of learned men. It is a vivid first-hand account of the trials and tribulations of a brilliant woman who was limited by her gender. Her learning and intellect set her apart from the other women of her time, and consequently marked her as an "outsider" for the remainder of her life.

Wiesner, Merry. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe. 1993: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Abstract: A monumental work on the history of women during the Renaissance, considered to be the definitive text on the subject. The study explores the limitations experienced by women in various cultures during the early modern period, such as those of cloistered nuns, educated women humanists, mothers, wives and widows. The study, based on extensive first-hand research, proposes a gender methodology that is inclusive and exhaustive. It is a crucial component in understanding the history of gender roles in the early modern period, and aids in the interpretation of documentary findings within the categories of gender that Weisner sets out in her study.

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