In this thoughtful and well-written book, Erichsen illuminates the material culture of what she calls “the middling class,” artisans and shopkeepers in Siena, who occupied a social and economic level above the poor and wage laborers and below the prosperous elites. This group, necessarily indistinct along the edges, provides, after sifting, eighty-two estate inventories between the years 1500 and 1550. Erichsen’s reading of these lengthy documents (two samples translated in an appendix), along with her astute eye for details in contemporary painting—supplemented by a wide variety of sources from the archives in Siena and Florence—has produced a comprehensive portrait of the things that these families possessed, from their houses to their towels and majolica plates. Erichsen, thoroughly grounded in the secondary literature and the best work in the burgeoning field of material culture, makes a convincing case that these artisans merit closer study across Europe. Although not the first to...
Artisans, Objects, and Everyday Life in Renaissance Italy: The Material Culture of the Middling Class by Paula Hohti Erichsen
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Steven A. Epstein; Artisans, Objects, and Everyday Life in Renaissance Italy: The Material Culture of the Middling Class by Paula Hohti Erichsen. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2021; 52 (2): 276–277. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/jinh_r_01710
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