The matter of art

Materials, practices, cultural logics, c.1250-1750

Edited by Christy Anderson, Anne Dunlop and Pamela H. Smith

The matter of art

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9282-8
  • Pages: 360
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.99
  • Published Date: January 2016
  • BIC Category: The arts / History of art & design styles: c 1400 to c 1600, Medieval History, Art History, Renaissance style, 16th century, c 1500 to c 1599, 15th century, c 1400 to c 1499, History of art, ART / History / Medieval, ART / History / Renaissance
  • Series: Studies in Design and Material Culture


Materials carried the meaning of early modern art. Transformed and crafted from the matter of nature, art objects were the physical embodiment of both the inherent qualities of materials and the forces of culture that used, refined and produced them. The study of materials offers a new approach to this important period in the history of art, science and culture, linking the close study of painting, sculpture and architecture to much wider categories of the everyday and the exotic. Drawing on research and models from anthropology, material culture and the history of art, scholars in The matter of art explore topics as diverse as Inka stonework, gold in panel painting, cork platforms for shoes, and the Christian Eucharist.


'.shows the reader that engagement with the particularities of medium can lead to the richest of interpretations.'
Renaissance Quarterly

'The Matter of Art
is a volume of superb interdisciplinary criticism thoughtfully organized and presented in as compact and accessible form as could possibly be expected for all it achieves.'
Sixteenth Century Journal


Part I:Matter
1. The matter of the medium: some tools for an art-theoretical interpretation of materials - Ann-Sophie Lehmann
2. The matter of ideas in the working of metals in early modern Europe - Pamela H. Smith
3. On the origins of European painting materials, real and imagined - Anne Dunlop
4. Gold coins and gold leaf in early Italian paintings - Irma Passeri
Part II: Practices
5. The 'Genealogy of Jean le Blanc': accounting for the materiality of the medieval Eucharist - Aden Kumler
6. Lead white's mysteries - Spike Bucklow
7. Material distinctions: plaster, terracotta and wax in the Renaissance artist's workshop - Eckart Marchand
8. Rocks and reverence: Inka and Spanish perceptions of stonework in the early modern Andes - Carolyn Dean
Part III: Cultural logics
9. Precious stones, material beings: performative materiality in fifteenth-century northern art - Brigitte Buettner
10. Carving life: the meaning of wood in early modern European sculpture - Christina Neilson
11. Arti povere, 1300-1650 - Michael Cole
12. Polish stone, Venetian glass, and red Hungarian marble: the materials of a Renaissance chapel in Jagiellonian Poland - Katie Jakobiec
13. Reveal or conceal: chopines and the display of material wealth in early modern Valencia and Venice - Elizabeth Semmelhack
14. Entanglements of body, text and stone: the crafting and connoisseurship of inkstones in eighteenth-century China - Dorothy Ko


Christy Anderson is Associate Professor of the History of Art at the University of Toronto

Anne Dunlop is Associate Professor of Art History at Tulane University in New Orleans

Pamela H. Smith is Seth Low Professor of History, Columbia University in the City of New York

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