Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Most people would be hard pressed to name a famous artist from Renaissance France. Yet sixteenth-century French kings believed they were the heirs of imperial Rome and commissioned a magnificent array of visual arts to secure their hopes of political ascendancy with images of overflowing abundance. With a wide-ranging yet richly detailed interdisciplinary approach, Rebecca Zorach examines the visual culture of the French Renaissance, where depictions of sacrifice, luxury, fertility, violence, metamorphosis, and sexual excess are central. Zorach looks at the cultural, political, and individual roles that played out in these artistic themes and how, eventually, these aesthetics of exuberant abundance disintegrated amidst perceptions of decadent excess.

Throughout the book, abundance and excess flow in liquids-blood, milk, ink, and gold-that highlight the materiality of objects and the human body, and explore the value (and values) accorded to them. The arts of the lavish royal court at Fontainebleau and in urban centers are here explored in a vibrant tableau that illuminates our own contemporary relationship to excess and desire.

From marvelous works by Francois Clouet to oversexed ornamental prints to Benvenuto Cellini's golden saltcellar fashioned for Francis I, Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold covers an astounding range of subjects with precision and panache, producing the most lucid, well-rounded portrait of the cultural politics of the French Renaissance to date.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationChicago, IL
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
Number of pages352
ISBN (Print)9780226989372
StatePublished - 2005

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