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
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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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About the Author:

Rebecca Zorach is the Mary Jane Crowe Professor of Art History at Northwestern University and the author of The Passionate Triangle and Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold

Review:

"Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold does not merely provide a sustained English language consideration of French Renaissance art, it also offers to the discipline of art history new possibilities for configuring a cultural history of any period. This thoroughly original work is careful, elegant, and impressive, and will make important contributions to the history of art, the history of French literature and culture, and Renaissance studies." (Mary D. Sheriff, author of Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France)

"Interdisciplinary is too anodyne a term for this searching portrait of the French Renaissance. Zorach plunges us into the culture as into a liquid flow, where texts and images, persons and things, production and consumption, all intermingle. Passionate in its intellectual commitments, and richly worked, like the objects it studies, this tale of an 'aesthetics of excess' will haunt our understanding of the true sacrifices underlying artistic achievement." (Joseph Koerner, author of The Reformation of the Image)

"Zorach’s work offers an exciting, innovative perspective on the French
Renaissance. Linking Italian artists and French court society to ceramics,
print culture and the economy of sixteenth-century Europe, this book provides a
fresh, interdisciplinary approach to a place and period of great fascination. It
should be essential reading for art historians and historians alike and all
those who are interested in the inter-relationships between visual and material
objects and the social worlds in which they were created." (Evelyn Welch, author of Art in Renaissance Italy, 1350-1500)

"Rebecca Zorach's innovative and exciting account of the French Renaissance illuminates the monarchical and sexual politics of ornament and the historical relations between vegetable and human abundance. It shows how the antique itself became an antic figure of excess, mutability, and perversity." (Peter Stallybrass, coauthor of Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory)

"Rebecca Zorach’s brilliantly written, exhaustively researched, and superbly illustrated book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the royal court of renaissance France, and the intellectual life of contemporary towns and cities. The French Renaissance may be less familiar to many readers than the Italian, but Zorach proves that the rebirth of ancient Greek and Roman culture was just as vibrant and inventive in France as it was in Italy. . . . A truly original book that deftly encapsulates the meaning of art, materialism, literature, society, and politics in a single readable volume." (Brenda Ralph Lewis Renaissance Magazine)

"Readers wil see and understand a profoundly revealed sixteenth century thanks to art historian Rebecca Zorach. . . . The themes she explores -- fertility, sacrifice, and eroticism -- illuminate fundamental aspects of the period that have never been gathered coherently within one conceptual framework. . . . The ready made audience for this work among historians is obvious: cultural historians with a passion for theory. The magnificent and copious illustrations make the material readily available to the reader not intimately familiar with the art. This is an extremely valuable work that renders the aesthetic of the French Renaissance compellingly interesting to the general historian." (Ann W. Ramsey H-France)

"Zorach brings together an impressive array of literary, historical, theoretical and visual references from the sixteenth century to the present day, thus surrounding each work with a rich pattern of associations." (Catherine Jenkins Print Quarterly)

"A wide-ranging study of the elite visual culture of France under the Valois-Angoulême dynasty. . . . The book's plentiful, high-quality illustrations exemplify both the author's arguments as well as the incredible fertility of artistic production during this period." (Laura M. Hogan caa.reviews)

"This book is as rich, copious, and complex as the media it interprets: painting, sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, medals and coins . . . with particular attention paid to the value--both economic and symbolic--of materials either represented or employed in the artistic process." (Giancarlo Fiorenza Renaissance Quarterly)

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