Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold

Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance

Rebecca Zorach

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Rebecca Zorach

16 color plates, 127 halftones | © 2005
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.
List of Illustrations
Preface: Figures of Excess
1. Incomprehensible Abundance? An Introduction
2. Blood
Sacrifice and Generation at Fontainebleau
The Galerie François Premier
Fontainebleau Nova Pandora
Death and Rebirth
The Death of Adonis
The Aesthetics of Sacrifice
Impossible Bodies
3. Milk
Visual Rhetorics
Cybele and Artemis
Fertile Gaul's Fat Breasts
Charles and Elizabeth
The Lust of the Earth
Natural Antiquity
4. Ink
Goods, Design, Desire
Ornament and the "School of Fontainebleau"
Copia and Curiosity
The Golden Fleece
Inanimate Reproduction
Problems of Number
5. Gold
The Other Side of Increase
Living Gold
Royal Responses
The New World
Inflation and the Hubris of Kings
The Golden Age
Circe's Golden Rod
Counterfeit Bodies
Epilogue: Animation and De-animation

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