Gold Brocade and Renaissance Painting. A Study in Material Culture


24 x 17 cm
484 pp. 290 illus.
Publication: November 2006
ISBN 1 904597 42 4
ISBN-13 978 1 904597 42 1

Book Description

Rembrandt Duits completed his PhD at the University of Utrecht , and works at the Photographic Collection of the Warburg Institute, where he also teaches Renaissance material culture. His thesis, Gold Brocade and Renaissance Painting, won the Karel van Mander Prijs for the best publication on art between 1500 and 1800.

Gold Brocade and Renaissance Painting discusses the representation of Italian Renaissance patterned silks in paintings from Italy and the Southern Netherlands , from the 14th to the 16th century. It is the first study to approach this subject from the perspective of material culture, attempting to answer such questions as why the subject of luxury textiles gained so great a popularity in Renaissance painting, how artists catered for an audience that desired to have gold brocades depicted but did not always possess the financial means to own the actual fabrics, and what the skills artists developed in this field contributed to the rising social status of the medium of painting. The material culture of the grand courts at which real gold brocade played an essential role in the display of wealth and status is compared to that of the socially ambitious but less affluent middle class for whom paintings were often the only affordable substitute for courtly splendour. Thus, the book also addresses the problem of the distinction between fact and fiction, imagination and reality in the account of contemporary social history presented in paintings.


  • Introduction
  • Fictional Fabrics. The Correlation between Real and Depicted Silk Textiles
  • Conspicuous Consumption. The Markets for Gold Brocades and Paintings
  • Princely Patronage. The Function of Gold Brocades and Paintings at Grand Courts
  • Derived Display. Imitation of the Courtly Model by Urban Elites
  • Conflicting Connotations. The Role of Gold Brocade in Renaissance Iconography
  • Index

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