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

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9780226989372: Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance

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.

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Product Description:

France is not known for its Renaissance art or artists, but French monarchs in the sixteenth century believed they were the heirs of the Roman Empire and produced a magnificent array of visual arts to express and support this presumed ascendancy. With an unparalleled interdisciplinary approach, Rebecca Zorach examines the rich visual culture of sixteenth-century France in the context of its depictions of sacrifice, luxury, violence, and sexual excess.

The metaphorical roles played by blood, milk, ink, and gold-materials of value and abundance-in the lavish royal court at Fontainebleau and in urban centers are here explored in a vibrant tableau based on thorough scholarship that illuminates our own contemporary relationship to excess. Often represented in overtly sexual imagery, this aesthetic of excess conveys the early modern French preoccupation with buxom figures, their fecund bellies, and anything suggesting fertility, metamorphosis, or rebirth.

From marvelous works by François Clouet 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 French Renaissance art and culture to date.

About the Author:

Rebecca Zorach is assistant professor of art history at the University of Chicago. She is coeditor of Embodied Utopias.

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Zorach, Rebecca
Published by University Of Chicago Press (2006)
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