A Casa: People, Spaces and Objects
in the Renaissance Interior

Two-Part Symposium


Part I
7-8 May 2004
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Lecture Theatre


ABSTRACTS

Friday, 7 May 2004

Session 1 Chair: Carolyn Sargentson

Patricia Fortini Brown (Princeton University)
‘Living Domestically in the Renaissance: The North Italian Experience’

This paper provides an overview of the living arrangements in Venetian and north Italian homes during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Aside from a consideration of house plans and layouts typical to the various cities, it will discuss the uses and furnishings of rooms and their development over time. Of particular interest is gendered space in the home. There is evidence that specific areas were designated for women and unmarried females in Venice in the latter half of the sixteenth century. It is worth considering whether this is a traditional, time-honored arrangement or whether it represents an emerging concern for cloistering women that gained currency during the counter-reformation. A comparative approach will be taken, looking at the experience of women in other Italian cities. Also to be considered is the reciprocal influence, or lack thereof, between Venice and its subject cities – most notably Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, and Bergamo – as well as practices in Milan, and whether one can distinguish between Lombard, Veneto, and Venetian domestic arrangements. For evidence, I will use treatises on the household, the treatises of Serlio, Palladio, and Scamozzi, inventories, and modern scholarship on architecture and furnishings, as well as studies of gender and the household.


Brenda Preyer (University of Austin, Texas)
‘The Domestic Interior in Tuscany’

I see my talk as a general introduction to the conference as I think it is important to lay out from the beginning a basic framework for our discussions. I want to start by looking at the Medici Palace and summarizing the understanding that Wolfgar Bulst has given us of its planning. We will move quickly through the palace from the front door to the courtyard with its loggia all the way up to the top floor and into the service areas. Of course we should be aware that the living quarters were arranged in suites for individuals or groups of family members and that they consisted of sala, camera, anticamera and (often) scrittoio. Comparison with other less elaborate buildings shows that the principles of planning present at the Medici Palace can be used as a general point of reference, even in the sixteenth century, when, though, there are important new developments, for instance with the formalized space at the top of the stairs (ricetto) and in the more commodious stairs themselves. Throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries descriptions in documents of division of houses are helpful for understanding the terminology for rooms --and the functions of the spaces--and thus for beginning to bring the plans to life. A special point for discussion concerns the anticamera: in Florence in the fifteenth century it always was located after the camera; the location seems to have changed in the sixteenth century, perhaps in response to Roman practice, where already in the fifteenth century it sometimes had the significance of "antechamber". Obviously the change in location would also involve a change in use for the room. A second question to be explored concerns the existance or not of quarters reserved for the wife.

Next I shall mention the usual fixtures and large pieces of furniture found in the various spaces along with considerations of which people would be moving through each area and what activities would take place in them. I’ll give some attention to acquai and fireplaces in the sale, and to the many objects that inventories associate with them, and I’ll also make clear where built-in benches were likely to be found.

The final section of my talk will deal with other sorts of objects commonly found in the sala, camera, anticamera and scrittoio, and I shall return to the question of what people normally would have seen them. (I am thinking especially of spalliera paintings in camere and anticamere.) Throughout my talk, I shall try to make reference to houses throughout Tuscany.

Stephanie Hanke (Fondazione Longhi, Firenze)
‘Bathing all'antica. Private Bathrooms in Genoese Palaces and Villas of the Sixteenth Century’

An almost unknown characteristic of Genoese architecture in the sixteenth century is the extraordinary number of private bathrooms in the urban palaces or nearby villas built by members of the local oligarchic society of the Genoese republic. These baths (we know today of twelve examples, all constructed in the second half of the century) are still in part existing or documented by ground plans and sections in Peter Paul Rubens’ Palazzi di Genova (1622). Most of them are of octagonal shape with niches and a small tup (vasca) integrated into the wall. The decoration was in stucco or fresco with representations from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The small dimensions of some of these bathrooms suggest that they were not only used for bathing, but also as laconica.

The prototype of the architectural typology of the Genoese bathrooms was probably the famous bagno built by Galeazzo Alessi in the Villa of Giovan Battista Grimaldi about 1550. This bath has been destroyed, but Vasari’s description suggests that the thermal space followed a classical mode, both in plan and decoration. He mentions the octagonal shape, water basins with hot and cold water, and tells us, that there was enough space to accommodate ten persons. A crystal sphere in the centre of the ceiling with the representation of the earth and of the zodiac alludes to the cosmological dimension of the whole concept.
Vasari’s description allows us to speculate about the social and intellectual function of the Genoese bath as an attempt to imitate the Roman bathing customs in a space which evokes Roman architecture and decoration. The numerous examples of typologically similar bathrooms in the city lead one to suspect they were important status symbols. A similar inclination to construct such baths is documented only in Rome in the circle of Raphael during the first half of the sixteenth century. In the later Cinquecento Genoa seems to be the only Italian city where this phenomenon exists in private palaces. At the same time, given the presence of numerous Orientals in Genoa (there was a strong Turkish minority), it seems not unreasonable to suggest an eastern influence both on the architecture and on the prevailing style of bathing, inasmuch as there are several indications of a Turkish bath in the city during the sixteenth century.


Luke Syson (National Gallery, London)
‘Representing the Domestic Interior in the Fifteenth Century: Record or Convention, Myth and Model’

In this paper I will analyse the ways in which different spaces and activities are represented in fifteenth-century Italian narrative and religious painting. In particular I will examine banquet scenes, birth scenes and depictions of saints and other figures at work in their studies. Such pictures have been used as evidence of the appearance of actual furniture and interiors by historians such as Peter Thornton. More recently this approach has tended to be regarded as problematic, recognising that painters and other makers are presenting idealising fictions. As a result, greater priority has been given to documents of different kinds as presenting "facts" and pictorial evidence has been somewhat discounted. This paper will seek to distinguish between pictorial convention and pictorial record. It will look, for example, at Sienese scenes of the birth of the Virgin or Saint John, all of which derive to some extent from Lorenzetti's great altarpiece for Siena Cathedral, to find how the image of the bed-chamber changed over the succeeding two centuries. Further it will seek to show that, while some shifts are likely to reflect contemporary practice and luxury buying (for which it will be necessary to draw back in and re-examine inventory evidence, to examine what sorts of object are represented - and, indeed, which are omitted), others were dictated by the desire to resemble other works of art. It will be interesting to discover, for instance, whether the introduction of landscapes derived from Netherlandish paintings (themselves a kind of luxury good) at the end of the fifteenth century in Florence and Umbria is paralleled by new Northern interior settings in Italian painting. Finally, I will ask the question: If such pictures cannot be taken as literal accounts, can they be re-examined as providing models which could be translated into real spaces? I will argue that architectural settings in pictures can often anticipate built architecture in their style. Since these the kinds of painting under discussion represent ideals, can one also find examples of moments when life imitated art, when people furnishing their houses looked to images to assist?

Session 2 Chair: A V

Stanley Chojnacki (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
‘Cosse per uxo de la dicta dona: Wives in the Venetian Palazzo’

Christiane Klapisch-Zuber famously characterized married women in the Italian urban elites as "passing guests" in the houses of men. Becoming a wife indeed entailed for most women a passage from father’s house to husband’s, and becoming a widow sometimes meant leaving the marital residence to return to the natal family home or take up residence elsewhere. The lives of married women were thus inherently unstable in name, status, and residence. Yet counterbalancing the transitions of married women was the impress they made on their marital homes. The casa was usually identified with the husband and his patriline. But the physical, material, and moral presence of women in their husbands’ homes leavened ties among agnates. It often lasted for decades, influencing the family’s psychological and economic relations. And it put its stamp on the material character of the patrician palace.

The proposed paper is an exploration of the concrete ways in which married women impressed themselves on their marital homes. The documentary emphasis is on Venice from the later fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries, but the rich scholarship on other cities, especially Florence, comes in for comparative mention as well. The chief argument is that married women influenced their marital environments in two registers. One was physical. Religious and civil laws underscored the sexual nature of marriage and the extravagant childbirth festivities recently recounted by Jacqueline Musacchio celebrated the reproductive role of wives. Musacchio and Patricia Brown have also drawn attention to the distinctive female space in the patrician house. The second register was material. Marriage contracts, wills, sumptuary legislation, and other sources reveal a weighty feminine component in the furnishings and economy of the patrician household. Providing daughters and wives with clothing, jewelry, furniture, and household items sometimes imperiled family property, but it also enhanced male honor. The material possessions of women were a symbolically charged element of the household’s appearance and the way the male casa projected itself into the larger society.

The physical and material presence of wives gave tangible expression to their moral place in the household and the complex relationships they brought to it. My aim in this paper is to explore the connection between those things. I will argue that their multiform presence enlarges the significance of married women’s role as "guests" in the male household. In particular I will suggest that the nuclear c-asa, if not the lineage, was often a shared enterprise, with the substantial presence of wives an influential part of the daily life inside the home and the family’s identity on the outside.


Katherine McIver (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
‘Two Cousins: A Look into Two Private Homes and the Women who owned them’

Laura Pallavicina-Sanvitalte (ca. 1495-1576) and her soucin, Giacoma Pallavicina (ca. 1509-1575), were born in Zibello, not far from Parma, and both were widows for the better part of their lives. Yet the two women were complete oppositis: Laura Pallavicina-Sanvitale was clearly a leader in her own right operating like a man, a patriarch, whereas, Giacoma, likely a lay sister, chose to support financially and morally her female kin. Both women were landowners who derived a substantial part of their incomes from these properties. Laura's holdings were more extensive than Giacoma's allowing her to reconstruct and renovate more than one home and to purchase large-scale oil paintings of which she had at least thirteen (eight of them by Flrmish artists). Giacoma, on the other hand, had only a couple of small devotional paintings, and there is no indication that she ever renovated her own home, rather she used her money to build a house for young unmarried women. And these differences are reflected in their homes and how they decorated them. Inventories taken at the time of each woman's death tell us much about each structure including the configuration of the interior spaces. A look at the rooms themselves as outlined in the inventories shows us how Laura and Giacoma decorated their homes, how and where various objects were used, and what personal objects and movable goods they owned. We learn something about the two women who purchased and collected them, and about female ownership. Laura's house was large, at least two stories and in plan, conformed to the typical Renaissance palazzo, whereas Giacoma's house was small and likely part of a larger structure, perhaps what Peter Thornton has called a townhouse. Laura not only had several private rooms located at the back of the house but also a private chapel with everything necessary for liturgical services, while Giacoma had only a domestic altar in her bedroom.

The two inventories are so specific in their descriptions of the domestic interiors that one can clearly visualize the rooms, the objects, and how the women moved around in them. Moreover, a census taken some years before provides us with a view of each household. Laura's was fairly large for a widow living alone; not only did her secretary live with her but also six female servants and twelve male servants, whereas Giacoma had two young girls living with her (ages ten and twelve), three women servants, and one male. Through an analysis of the two inventories and other documents, this paper will explore how each women articulated her own domestic interior, how she lived and even worked there, and what sorts of precious material goods each woman preferred to own.


Barbara Bettoni (Università degli Studi di Brescia)
‘Urban Aristocracy without Court: Domestic Interiors in Brescia during the Sixteenth Century (Casa Gambara al Fontanone, Cittadella Vecchia)’

(1. Presentation of the cultural and political outline: the absence of a princely centre in Brescia; 2. Introduction to the Gambara family history; 3. The structure of the Gambara urban house and its interior disposition; 4. Analysis of the rooms and their functional destination level deduced by the analysis of the objects inside).

In order to offer a contribution to explore some aspects related to the life-style and the material culture of Brescia in the second half of the XVI century, I would like to present a case study conceiving a family belonging to the high classes and in which it is possible to find reflected many aspects of the peculiarity of the Brescian political and cultural environment during the Renaissance.

It is necessary to stress that Brescia was not subject, between the XV and XVI centuries, to a court or to a princely centre, which directly keeps under its influence changes in fashion and the development of art and culture. The Republic of Venice obtained political control over the Brescian lands although the Serenissima did not completely dominate the local powers. So the Brescian aristocratic outline is various, heterogeneous and rather free in selecting models to which personal choices relate: imitation and emulation overall belong to the personal and particular experience. In such a context, moreover, the Brescian aristocracy has the opportunity to follow more than one cultural model, for instance the Republic of Venice, the Courts of Mantua and Ferrara and the ecclesiastic power in Milan as well.

The Gambara family plays an important role in this period and they show themselves sensitive and creative as cultural and political mediators. This predisposition is also reflected in the structure of their urban house and in their ways of living in their interiors. Their urban house blends into the composite landscape of the aristocratic palaces of that age: there isn’t any building prevaricating the others for size or stateliness even if each aristocratic town house imitates different models. The Gambara urban house, built on the ruins of a roman theatre, presents a strongly articulated structure. Inside this structure rooms related to domestic activities, spaces for intimacy and studying, women's work interiors, and entertainment rooms are alternated and keep a particular character in the way they are used. The wide collections of Italian paintings, maioliche, tapestries and a great richness in books underline the relationship between the people and the objects. The subject of the paintings found in each room is chosen according to the room destination and to its furniture ('tinello dove mangiano li gentiluomini', 'stanze del padrone', 'stanze delle donne', 'studiolo', 'credenze'). Also some interiors are turned to domestic devotion ('chiesa', 'sacrestia').

The reconstitution of the Gambara’s domestic interiors was made after the analysis of inventories and polizze d’estimo probably written under the direction of the people living in the house. It let us compare this collection of items, and its disposition inside the rooms, with the model that emerges from the analysis of the inventories related to other aristocratic families (the Averoldi family, for instance, which presents many differences in living urban houses). It can also be compared with the model that distinguishes, in the same period, the interior layout and the functional destination in the urban house of families belonging to the middle high classes. Such a comparison keeps also in evidence that, during the XVI century, the specialisation level of the domestic interior is deeply different between aristocracy and artisans or shopkeepers.


Anna Bellavitis (Université de Paris 10-Nanterre)
and Isabelle Chabot (Università degli Studi di Trieste)
‘Case e oggetti, famiglie e lignaggi a Venezia e Firenze tra XIVo e XVIo secolo’

Il confronto tra le strutture familiari e successorie della Venezia e della Firenze rinascimentali risulta di grande interesse e continua a suscitare discussioni talvolta anche accese. Si sono finora messe in evidenza soprattutto le differenze e le contraddizioni tra le due realtà, partendo tuttavia, molto spesso, da fonti diverse. Per l’epoca medievale, lo studio dei libri di famiglia fiorentini, cosi’ fortemente condizionati dalla figura del paterfamilias, non ha potuto che spingere ad insistere sul carattere patriarcale di tale società, mentre, nel caso veneziano, in cui quella fonte è praticamente assente, l’analisi dei testamenti, maschili come femminili, ha permesso di evidenziare il peso e l’importanza delle relazioni nonché delle strategie successorie femminili nel gioco di alleanze ed equilibri fra i lignaggi. Per superare questa contrapposizione, che è divenuta ormai quasi un luogo comune storiografico, è necessario, da una parte, moltiplicare le fonti e, soprattutto, interrogare la normativa statutaria e, dall’altra, non limitare la ricerca alle élites. Nella medesima prospettiva, è possibile indagare l’articolazione concreta del rapporto tra casa e famiglia nei due contesti. Anche in questo caso, si deve partire dalle norme relative alla famiglie e alla successione, nel tentativo di capire come queste si concretizzino in diverse forme familiari e in diversi modi di possedere, abitare, trasmettere, ereditare, dividere la casa. L’analisi della legislazione, raffrontata allo studio delle fonti, specie notarili (contratti matrimoniali, testamenti, inventari) permette di costruire un quadro complesso dei rapporti tra spazi, luoghi, oggetti e norme e pratiche, matrimoniali e successorie. Tra i temi che vorremmo affrontare vi sono :
-la proprietà della casa e la sua evoluzione nel tempo (chi eredita la casa? chi fornisce la casa al momento del matrimonio?);
-la struttura della casa in relazione alla struttura della famiglia (in epoca moderna, i patrizi veneziani spesso danno in affitto il proprio palazzo per abitare in case d’affitto : come si articolano queste scelte economiche con l’evoluzione del lignaggio?);
-la proprietà di alcune parti del mobilio (a Firenze, ad esempio, sono i mariti a fornire la camera matrimoniale);
-la sorte e la residenza della vedova (se le vedove fiorentine dell’élite ritornano in genere nella casa paterna, le vedove veneziane, nella borghesia agiata, si ritrovano a vivere da sole e portano in dote la casa nell’eventualità di un nuovo matrimonio);
-l’organizzazione degli spazi interni all’abitazione in relazione alla struttura della famiglia e alla sua evoluzione nel tempo;
- l’articolazione degli spazi interni ed esterni in rapporto alle attività esercitate, la relazione fra la casa come luogo di abitazione e la casa come luogo di lavoro.


Jacqueline Marie Musacchio (Vassar College)
‘Baptismal Ritual in Renaissance Florence’

The importance associated with the continuation of the family in Renaissance Florence is undeniable, and it manifested itself in a variety of ways. With this emphasis on the family came a concurrent emphasis on baptism. Baptism was second only to marriage for the way that it linked families; in this case, it established a network of obligations through the naming of godparents. As a ritual that incorporated religious, civic, and domestic components, baptism carried a wide range of meanings. This paper will explore those meanings, focusing in particular on the intersection of these different components as they were enacted in the church, city, and particularly in the home. I am especially interested in tracing the event in its domestic setting, examining both the ritual and its associated objects to ascertain the physical and emotional impact it had on daily life and on the family members who participated in it.

Most baptisms took place in San Giovanni when the child was only a few days old. Godparents brought candles to light and placed coins in the child’s swaddling. After the child became a Christian, he or she also became a Florentine; a black or white bean was dropped into a till to record the birth of the new citizen. But I would suggest an even more important role for baptism as a domestic ritual. Family events were surrounded by a thick context of objects, ranging from bridal belts to birth trays to funerary palls; when called into service, these objects helped the family negotiate through the complexities that surrounded them.

In this context, the culmination of the baptism ritual took place in the various rooms of the newborn’s home. At this point the godparents mingled with the mother’s regular female visitors. But baptism was male-centered, and it focused on the lineage and the obligations made between godparents and the godchild’s family. These obligations were solidified by the food and drink the father provided his guests, and the gifts they offered the mother, gifts like sweet breads, sponge cakes, boxes of candies, flatware, and lengths of cloth. In fact, ineffectual sumptuary legislation attempted to control the value and type of gifts, the number of godparents, and the acceptable clothing and accessories.
Contrary to what must have been the extravagant baptisms in San Giovanni, and the domestic celebrations that followed them, high-risk newborns were baptized in the home immediately. This more private and often tragic ritual was also accompanied by its own activities and objects.

My paper will describe the various aspects of Florentine baptism ritual using surviving objects, painted representations, inventories, private memoranda, and contemporary literature to provide a detailed picture of the event. By focusing on the domestic aspects of baptism, rather than on the religious and civic, I will be able to recreate a rarely-explored but critically important life-cycle event that depended on the relationships between people, space, and objects in a particularly telling fashion.


Saturday 8 May 2004

Session 3 Chair: Giandomenico Romanelli

Allen Grieco
(Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti)
‘Dining rituals, the Credenza and the Birth of the Dining Room’

It is a well-known fact that late medieval and Renaissance houses did not have a room that was specifically devoted to consuming meals. The very concept that this should happen in any given place would have gone against the advice dispensed by medical and para-medical texts such as the tacuinum sanitatis. Meals were meant to be served in different locations, chosen above all in function of the seasons, much in the same way as cotton clothing was recommended in summer and woollen garb in winter. However, despite this convention by the mid-15th century the ancestor of the dining room was beginning to take shape and this even in rather humble dwellings of the contado, where the cooking and the dining area were - occasionally but significantly - quite distinct spaces. It is not easy to explain the reasons for the emergence of a room devoted to dining since more than one factor must have contributed to its development. One factor that seems to have weighed heavily in the process was the increasingly complicated ritual that surrounded dining and, in particular, the increasingly important role played by the credenza. Although usually thought of in terms of a piece of furniture that allowed for the display of fine majolica and precious tableware, this is to forget its original function. The importance of the credenza in the dining hall, so well documented in iconographic sources of the period, derived also, if not primarily, from its being used for two important procedures. It was not only used for the carving and serving of food, but also for an important tasting ritual carried out by the carver, which ritual was responsible for the name given to the piece of furniture in the first place.


Beth L. Holman (Bard Graduate Center for Studies in Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture) ‘The Credenza in Early Modern Italy: Vas quasi corpus’.

My paper will discuss the conception, siting, and organization of credenzas in early modern Italy, with reference to documents as well as literary and pictorial descriptions and designs. I will discuss the physical aspects of the credenza in relation to surrounding spaces and people, and suggest strategies to apprehend aspects of its social and symbolic meanings.

Precious metal dining services were important features of domestic display, particularly in banquets. ‘Paper credenzas’ (notebooks of silver designs) were created for elite patrons and fictive credenzas were delineated in books and on walls, such as the frescos in the Palazzo Altemps in Rome and Palazzo Te in Mantua. In the Baroque period, the credenza under a baldachin became a permanent feature in the entrance hall of designated Roman palaces.

Despite the central role of the credenza in domestic spaces and secular celebrations, there has been little exploration of its various roles and cultural meanings in early modern Italy. In general, the credenza has been seen merely as a display of material wealth and thus as a reflection of the financial and social status of the owner. This was an important function; eyewitnesses to banquets often counted the levels and estimated the worth of silver and gold vessels. I will propose, however, that the credenza also expressed other social values, such as ordine and hierarchy, reflected in the credenza’s siting and setting in the Renaissance interior as well as its arrangement of vessels. I will also suggest that the credenza embodied corporate or group identity, i.e. assemblage as assembly. The embodiment of social principles in inanimate groupings of vessels was made more potent by the association of vessels with the human form from personal emblems to Firenzuola’s treatise on the beauty of women, not to mention the design and manufacture of vases with figural bodies and decorations that reflected and refracted corporeal parts and functions. I will suggest parallels between the staging of dining ware on the credenza and the staging of banquets. Thus, in its domestic and ritualistic setting, the credenza and its components will be seen to have broad cultural, social, and political significance.


Guido Vannini, Angelica Degasperi, Marta Caroscio (Università degli Studi di Firenze) ‘From Renaissance Maiolica to Slipware. Hypothesis on the Reconstruction of the Laid Table and Sideboard during the Renaissance in Florence. Preliminary Notes on Cafaggiolo’

The detailed archaeological research carried out at the ‘villa medicea’ in Cafaggiolo from 1999 to 2001 in the context of the course in Medieval Archaeology of the University of Florence was the first of this sort. The elaborations still in progress are producing data on the use and function of tableware during the Renaissance, which can sometimes be interpreted in an innovative way. The archaeological excavation led to the identification not only of several dumps of kiln waste – which, even though not in their original location, directly prove for the first time the features and dimensions of the productions for the whole XVI century – but also a deposit that can be interpreted as the domestic dumping ground of the Villa, because of the quantity of finished slipware.

The excavation revealed a considerable amount of production rejects of tableware; most of them are tin-glazed earthenware but there are also fragments of slipware: fine-point incised ware, ‘a fondo ribassato’ (i.e. scraped away from the background producing a bas-relief effect) and marbled slipware, even though their number is very low in comparison to the maiolica. The aim in studying these findings is to reconstruct the evolution of the laid table in Florence and the surrounding areas during the XVI century; in doing so, the focus will be on referring these findings to their respective contexts – which are stratified deposits – and analysing the relationship between groups of fragments and the contexts they were found in. The research still in progress on the medicean kiln is pointing out that – according to the variety and different quality of the maiolica which was produced – the workshop in Cafaggiolo did not depend on the Medici’s patronage; the pottery produced there was, in fact, sold in Florence and in its surroundings. This is shown not only by historic documents, but also by the findings of the urban archaeological excavations carried out in Florence, which revealed the presence of maiolica produced in Cafaggiolo. Because of the lack of a systematic archaeological research, the study of the production rejects found in Cafaggiolo are fundamental in order to reconstruct a laid table, not only in a princely urban house, but also in non-princely houses belonging to all the other urban social classes in Renaissance Florence. Referring to that, it is important to underline that the objects produced in Cafaggiolo were available within different markets.

Thus during the XV century, the habit of using individual plates became popular, but it was only consolidated in this area one century later; this means that open shapes began to predominate over closed ones, which were the majority of the previous production of maiolica arcaica and proto-Renaissance maiolica. It is very important to underline that during the second half of the XVI century, in a historical period when economic difficulties had to be faced, the less expensive slipware began to replace the maiolica, in particular open-shaped tableware. Thus, during the first half of the XVI century both open and closed shapes in maiolica were generally employed, whereas during the second half of the century – while jugs in tin-glazed ware were still present – plates, dishes and bowls in slipware began to appear and progressively replace the open shapes in maiolica.


Dale Kent (University of California at Riverside)
‘An Accountant's Description Of His House And Life-Style In Fifteenth Century Florence’

Michele del Giogante, an accountant who was also a poet and collector of the texts of popular culture in mid-fifteenth century Florence, included in one of his anthologies (Riccardiana MS 2734) a memory treatise based on an inventory of his own house. In a mental walk around it, he listed 100 places or things to which he assigned memorable associations, many of them visual or literary, civic or religious, thus offering us an unusual insight into Florentine culture below the level of the much-studied patriciate.

This paper, however, would focus mainly on what Michele's inventory reveals of the layout of a non-patrician home, the usage of its rooms, and their furnishings and contents. Michele's home seems to have comprised an irregular cluster of rooms built on three or four levels, with storage and other spaces between floors connected by several flights of stairs with intermediate landings. Although Michele lived alone, with only one or two servants, places for storing produce and kitchen equipment figured prominently in his inventory. One set of stairs went down to a cellar where wine, vinegar, water, oil, grain, and olives were kept. The main staircase in the entrance hall led up to the sala; above it was the kitchen with a large fireplace, which could apparently be reached by an outside staircase. Above the kitchen was a servant's room, and a new room with ante-room, plus a terrace opening onto a courtyard with a well. Also above the sala was Michele's camera and anticamera, and his adjacent study, connected by yet another staircase to a cameretta where arms were stored. Clearly in his mind this suite of rooms was the heart of his house; its contents, among them devotional objects, "a cupboard of knowledge, with many drawers," and aids to diversion such as a chess-board, nets for fishing, and arrows, snares and lures for hunting, evoked his richest and most imaginative associations.

Michele's house was adorned with a number of decorative objects, including a French carpet. "The lion of the staircase on the ground floor, with...the weasel upon it" may have been a replica of Donatello's sculpture for the staircase of the papal residence at Santa Maria Novella. The accountant's association of place 39, the flour supply on the shelf in the kitchen on the right hand side of the bread, with "abundance in the figure of a woman," may also have referred to a replica of a work by Donatello. It certainly evokes the sculptor's female figure installed atop an antique column in the marketplace of the Mercato Vecchio, and probably intended to symbolize the charity of communal provision of grain for the poor. Among the associations Michele assigned actual objects, it is difficult sometimes to distinguish between the real and the imagined, but "the Dacian woman painted on a sheet of paper" on the place described as "the column on the wall of the serving woman" was probably a real picture, like the"painting of Hector" in the room above the study, and a representation of Cato on the backboard of the lettuccio in Michele's camera.


Session 4 Chair: John Styles

Fabrizio Nevola (University of Warwick)
‘Home Shopping: The Social and Architectural Place of Business in Renaissance Palaces’

Shops and shop-fronts are an integral part of the street façade of any urban centre, and this was certainly also the case in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy. Yet architectural historians have never considered the bottega as an essential component of the cityscape, nor yet of the formal design of the palaces and houses that accommodate them. Moreover, the shop is a space of social interaction between a broad public and the palace owner, quite different to the courtyard or loggia, access to which was far more regulated.

This paper will consider the social and architectural significance of the bottega in palace designs of the second half of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries in Italy. The core of the paper will emerge from document based research on Sienese palaces, the letting market for shops, the nature of retail activity exercised in the prestigious centrally-located sites and the type of social exchange between palace-owner, lessee and the wider public. Discussion will consider the means by which palace patrons controlled the appearance of the shops, the selection of appropriate trades to exercise in them, and the degree to which a shop was connected to the internal life of the palace as a domestic space. Archival sources, contemporary narratives and diaries as well as treatise literature will document these issues.

Drawing out from the Sienese evidence, the paper will close with broader considerations regarding these same issues as they relate to other central Italian cities, and in particular Florence (1450-80s) and Rome (1480s-1515). Up to now, scholars have considered elite social exchange within the walls of the palace, but have significantly underplayed the somewhat everyday sociability that occurred at the public/private interface of the shop, to the point that it is frequently said that Florentine palaces did not contain shops. It is time that such an elitist conception of the palace be overturned by the same pragmatic considerations that were made by the original palace patrons.


Francesco Franceschi (Università degli Studi di Siena)
‘Lavorare in casa nella Firenze del rinascimento’

Lasciando da parte l'attività svolta dalle donne per mandare avanti la famiglia e far crescere i figli, così come la produzione di beni per l'autoconsumo, il mio intervento si propone di affrontare il tema del lavoro effettuato a domicilio per il mercato; in particolare intende concentrarsi sulla produzione tessile organizzata dai mercanti-imprenditori e svolta da manodopera sia maschile che femminile nella Firenze dei secoli XIV-XVI.

Grazie alla ricchezza delle ricerche sulle aziende laniere e seriche fiorentine l'argomento è abbastanza ben conosciuto: manca tuttavia un'analisi che, coerentemente con lo spirito del symposium, indaghi i rapporti fra individui, pratica economica e spazi domestici. Per tentare di colmare questa lacuna svolgerò il mio discorso valendomi di un ampio ventaglio di fonti (documenti normativi, censimenti fiscali, libri di conti e di ricordi, ma soprattutto atti giudiziari corporativi e inventari di beni), e ricercando termini di confronto negli studi su altre città manifatturiere (Prato, Lucca, Venezia, Genova).

Gli obiettivi principali della ricostruzione sono i seguenti:
a) chiarire l'eventuale legame fra la presenza di attività effettuate in casa e la composizione delle unità di residenza (penso alle ‘fraterne’ o alla coabitazione fra donne impegnate in una medesima occupazione); b) illustrare le concrete modalità di adattamento fra funzioni produttive e funzioni abitative;
c) evidenziare gli effetti che la simbiosi fra casa e laboratorio determinava sul network di coloro che vi risiedevano.

Il discorso terrà anche conto del fatto che dietro etichette quali ‘industria domestica’ o ‘lavoro a domicilio’ si nascondevano realtà spesso molto variegate, a seconda del tipo di occupazioni svolte, del numero dei componenti il nucleo familiare (e spesso degli esterni) che erano coinvolti nel processo produttivo, della quantità di tempo e di energie che essi potevano dedicargli. La diversa natura dell'‘azienda a domicilio’, insomma, implicava forme differenti di interazione fra produzione e vita domestica, forme che mi sforzerò di distinguere e documentare caso per caso.


Francesca Cavazzana Romanelli (Direzione generale archivi – Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali)

‘Le scritture d’archivio nella casa rinascimentale veneziana’
Raccolti in sacchetti, plichi, cartelle o mazzi; allineati su scaffali e banconi o racchiusi entro scrigni, cassoni, stipi o scrittoi; negli androni, nei "porteghi" e negli studi, fin nella gelosa segretezza delle camere da letto, gli archivi ritornano in più luoghi della casa rinascimentale, anche in quella veneziana, sia essa della città insulare o della più prossima terraferma.

Pergamene e carte, mappe, volumi e registri si sedimentano nel tempo quale tramite delle relazioni interpersonali, quale strumento e attestazione della gestione dell’azienda familiare, quale documentazione e centro propulsore di affari, commerci, attività professionali, quale elemento di formazione – nel passaggio delle generazioni – alla vita civile e all’agone politico.

E come nelle rifrazioni di un gioco di specchi gli inventari d’archivio cinquecenteschi – fonte ben nota essa stessa per ricostruire topografia, arredi e oggetti degli interni rinascimentali – riportano a loro volta con incoraggiante frequenza anche la descrizione di queste "scritture": archivi privati, più sovente – ma non solo – gentilizi o mercantili.

Si tratta di fondi che in non pochi casi, specie se appartenenti a prestigiosi casati dalla durata plurisecolare, ci sono felicemente pervenuti, riconoscibili in diversa misura nel loro nucleo cinquecentesco sotto gli incrementi, le riorganizzazioni o le ricorrenti dispersioni dei secoli successivi. Ma ben più spesso gli inventari del secolo XVI sono per noi l’unica, preziosa traccia sopravvissuta dell’esistenza stessa di questi complessi documentari, della loro fisionomia e della loro consistenza, della loro ubicazione e del loro utilizzo entro le attività domestiche o nello svolgimento di mestieri e professioni.

L’indagine si amplia a questo punto, inevitabilmente, al linguaggio e al tenore informativo degli inventari, al loro contesto di produzione, alla cultura dei loro compilatori, al grado di analiticità e al variato impianto strutturale delle descrizioni riportate.

Attraverso il rigore asciutto, quasi litanico della paratassi inventariale riappaiono così carteggi ed epistolari, libri di conti e polizze di pagamenti, catastici e memorie, istrumenti privati e pubbliche deliberazioni: dettagliate rassegne di documenti che, sia pur attraverso la sinteticità di sommari e regesti, rievocano storie di contratti e affari, di viaggi e traffici, di committenze d’arte e architettura, di amicizie, di amori e di liti; un patrimonio di carte e pergamene che ritorna ad animare, con i suoi singolari arredi e contenitori, la vita privata ed affettiva, le attività sociali, culturali ed economiche della casa rinascimentale e dei suoi abitanti.


Jérôme Hayez (Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, Paris) ‘Uno iscritoio che basterebe a la Ghabella de’ chontrati: Espaces de l’écriture dans le palais et les agences de Francesco di Marco Datini (vers 1370-1410)’

Deux monographies importantes ont déjà été consacrées à la diffusion dans les habitations privées de la Renaissance d’une pièce spécialement destinée à l’activité d’écriture (en italien scrittoio ou studio). Tandis que Wolfgang Liebenwein s’est principalement attaché aux aspects architecturaux de la question, Dora Thornton a surtout mis en évidence le rapport très fort de cet espace avec les pratiques de collectionnisme, au début de l’époque moderne.

Les scrittoi organisés vers 1400 par le marchand Francesco di Marco Datini dans son palais de Prato et quelques-unes de ses agences commerciales (Avignon, Florence) offrent des exemples précoces d’espaces de l’écriture, non influencés encore par la diffusion de l’éducation humaniste et abondamment documentés (inventaires, correspondances, comptabilités, quelques vestiges archéologiques).
Ces diverses sources signalent une localisation très marquée de l’écriture, dans les fonctions (usages pratiques de gestion, communication, mémoire, preuve) comme dans les formes (localisation, format, support et graphie). On observe déjà ici dans ces demeures marchandes une double polarisation, entre le bureau associé à la boutique ou à l’entrepôt, et la chambre du maître ou une pièce voisine spécialisée dans cette fonction (scrittoio ou studio). Mais les sources ne dessinent pas une opposition radicale ni dans le mobilier, ni dans le type d’écrits entreposés, ni même dans les activités qui se déroulent dans les deux lieux ou leur temporalité. L’examen des pratiques liées à l’écriture suggère au bout du compte que l’apparition d’une nouvelle pièce, le scrittoio, dans les habitations marchandes répond peut-être à des besoins de confort créés par les longues séances de travail, mais surtout à la volonté de s’isoler dans cette activité de lieux plus ouverts aux intrusions et de conserver des écrits confidentiels à l’abri du regard indiscret de visiteurs, serviteurs ou familiers.

Vers 1400, l’écrit a déjà massivement envahi l’habitation privée et son volume, à un certain niveau d’affaires, a peu à envier à celui de périodes plus récentes. Le temps passé aux activités d’écriture et le volume des archives privées ont largement favorisé la diffusion dans le monde du négoce de la pièce du scrittoio, de plus en plus assimilée au studio des lettrés, grâce également à une convergence nouvelle dans l’éducation des élites. Face à ces éléments déjà en place, l’évolution ultérieure semble avoir surtout porté sur la rationalisation et l’ordonnancement plus systématique des contenants (par l’usage des armoires en particulier) et sur leur intégration à un décor privé qui devient plus somptueux avec l’assimilation d’une partie des familles marchandes à la noblesse des cours.

Discussion and Round Table Chair: Suzanne B. Butters