Glassmaking in Renaissance Venice : The Fragile Craft book cover
1st Edition

Glassmaking in Renaissance Venice
The Fragile Craft

ISBN 9780754600503
Published February 6, 2017 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

The transformation of the Venetian glass industry during the Renaissance was not only a technical phenomenon, but also a social one. In this volume, Patrick McCray examines the demand, production and distribution of glass and glassmaking technology during this period and evaluates several key topics, including the nature of Renaissance demand for certain luxury goods, the interaction between industry and government in the Renaissance, and technological change as a social process. McCray places in its broader economic and cultural context a craft and industry that has been traditionally viewed primarily through the surviving artefacts held in museum collections. McCray explores the social and economic context of glassmaking in Venice, from the guild and state level down to the workings of the individual glass house. He tracks the dissemination of Venetian-style glassmaking throughout Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and its effects on Venice’s glass industry. Integrating evidence from a wide variety of sources - written documents such as shop records and recipe books, pictorial representations of glass and glassmaking, and the careful physical and chemical analysis of glass pieces that have survived to the present - he examines the relation between consumer demand and technological change. In the process, he traces the organizational changes that signified a transition from an older and more traditional manner of ’artisan’ manufacture to a modern, ’factory-style’ manner of production.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Glass, ceramics, and society; The nature and limitations of available sources of information; Technological change and the role of consumer demand; The plan of this book; Masters of the Gold of Christendom: Renaissance Venice, the World Economy, and Luxury Goods: Introduction; Venice in the Renaissance world economy; Artisans, guilds, and the Venetian State; The economic geography of Venice and Murano; Capitalism, consumerism, and conspicuous consumption; Luxury goods in the Renaissance culture and economy; A note on the Venetian monetary system; Master Aldrevandin’s World: Glassmaking in Pre-Renaissance Venice: Introduction; Glassmaking in the past; Early glassmaking traditions in the Veneto; Glassmaking in medieval Venice; The glassmakers of medieval Venice and their products; The technology of glass production in pre-Renaissance Venice; Questions of origins and influence; The Renaissance Venetian glass industry - a self-catalyzed phenomenon; Demystifying the Demand for Renaissance Glass: Introduction; Why glass?; The functions of Renaissance glass; Desire defined: Two favoured qualities of Renaissance Venetian glass; Conclusion; Desire Fulfilled: The Technology of Glassmaking in Renaissance Venice: The introduction and innovation of new luxury glasses; Luxury glassmaking technology in Renaissance Venice; The final product; The social organisation of Venetian glassmaking; Venetian glassmaking and the Renaissance economy; Venetian glassmaking in context: Some concluding remarks; Consumers and Competitors: The Distribution of Glass and Glassmaking Knowledge: Introduction; The distribution of glass; Technology transfer and Renaissance glassmaking; Epilogue: The Innovations of Renaissance Venetian Glass; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

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'This is an excellent book ... It [brings] together in a refreshing way the history of luxury and consumer culture in Venice and the technology and organization of glassmaking.' Professor Maxine Berg, University of Warwick 'McCray provides a detailed and rich account of an area crucial to Venice’s identity.' Choice, Vol. 37 No. 10 ’McCray’s description of renaissance glass technology is authoritative, and his account of the way in which colourless glass (cristallo) came to be perfected is the best available.’ Burlington Magazine ’The volume has detailed notes, analytical tables and bibliography, which in themselves make it an indispensable handbook. It will appeal to a wide readership as the best introduction to Venetian renaissance glassmaking, particularly in its technical aspects, available in English.’ Burlington '... careful research, fascinating details, and varied perspectives will undoubtedly make Glassmaking in Renaissance Venice useful to historians of early modern technology and material culture.' Technology and Culture '...McCray's book is the first to investigate the Venetian glassmaking industry fully...' Sixteenth Century Journal 'W. Patrick McCray offers an erudite and comprehensive study, which benefits enormously from the wide range of sources and methodologies he brings to bear... this is overwhelmingly an insightful book... The author [...] has an excellent product...' ISIS