Dispersal, Exchange and the Culture of Things in Fifteenth-century Italy

Clark, Leah R (2017). Dispersal, Exchange and the Culture of Things in Fifteenth-century Italy. In: Jurkowlaniec, Grażyna; Matyjaszkiewicz, Ika and Sarnecka, Zuzanna eds. The Agency of Things in Medieval and Early Modern Art: Materials, Power and Manipulation. London: Routledge, pp. 91–102.

URL: https://www.routledge.com/The-Agency-of-Things-in-...


This chapter addresses the paradox of precious things in the fifteenth century as their value led to their circulation and dispersal yet individuals attempted to record their temporary ownership through inscriptions, arms and other identifiers. The inventories recording these objects allow us to trace their provenances, but these documents should not be seen as a means to an end, rather they highlight multifaceted approaches to people’s possessions and underscore the very transient existence of many early modern things. Traditional Art History has largely concentrated on the production and consumption of art works rather than their destruction and thus inventories and account books have often been examined with a focus on the acquisition rather than the dispersal of possessions. A closer look at account books, inventories and other documents, as this chapter argues, reveals a more complex cycle in which works were made, destroyed, purchased, loaned, exchanged, pawned and melted.

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