Chapter 13
European Society
in the Age of the
A Bank Scene, Florence
Originally a “bank” was just a counter; moneychangers who sat behind the counter
became “bankers,” exchanging different currencies and holding deposits for
merchants and businesspeople. In this scene from fifteenth-century Florence, the
bank is covered with an imported Ottoman geometric rug, one of many imported
luxury items handled by Florentine merchants.
Prato, San Francesco/Scala/ArtResource, NY
The Italian City-States,
ca 1494
In the fifteenth century the Italian
city-states represented great wealth
and cultural sophistication. The
political divisions of the peninsula
invited foreign intervention.
Uccello: Battle of San Romano
Fascinated by perspective—the representation of spatial depth or distance on a flat
surface—the Florentine artist Paolo Uccello (1397–1475) celebrated the Florentine
victory over Siena (1432) in a painting with three scenes. Though a minor battle, it
started Florence on the road to domination over smaller nearby states. The painting
hung in Lorenzo de’ Medici’s bedroom.
National Gallery,London/Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
Benvenuto Cellini: Saltcellar of
Francis I (ca 1540)
In gold and enamel, Cellini depicts the
Roman sea god, Neptune with trident,
or three-pronged spear), sitting beside
a small boat-shaped container holding
salt from the sea. Opposite him, a
female figure personifying Earth
guards pepper, which derives from a
plant. Portrayed on the base are the
four seasons and the times of day,
symbolizing seasonal festivities
and daily meal schedules. Classical
figures portrayed with grace, poise,
and elegance were common subjects
in Renaissance art.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna/The Bridgeman Art Library
Raphael: Portrait of Castiglione
In this portrait by Raphael, the most
sought-after portrait painter of the
Renaissance, Castiglione is shown
dressed exactly as he
advised courtiers to dress, in
elegant, but subdued, clothing
that would enhance the splendor
of the court, but never
outshine the ruler.
Scala/Art Resource, NY
Bennozzo Gozzoli: Procession
of the Magi, 1461
This segment of a huge fresco covering
three walls of a chapel in the Medici
Palace in Florence shows members of
the Medici family and other
contemporary individuals in a
procession accompanying the biblical
three wise men (magi in Italian) as they
brought gifts to the infant Jesus. The
painting was ordered by Cosimo and
Piero de’ Medici, who had just finished
building the family palace in the center
of the city. Reflecting the
self-confidence of his patrons, Gozzoli
places the elderly Cosimo and Piero
at the head of the procession,
accompanied by their grooms.
The group behind them includes
Pope PiusII (in the last row in a red
hat that ties under the chin) and the
artist (in the second to the last row in
a red hat with gold lettering).
Scala/Art Resource, NY
The Print Shop
This sixteenth-century engraving captures the busy world of a print shop: On the
left, men set pieces of type, and an individual wearing glasses checks a copy. At the
rear, another applies ink to the type, while a man carries in fresh paper on his head.
At the right, the master printer operates the press, while a boy removes the printed
pages and sets them to dry. The well dressed figure in the right foreground may be
the patron checking to see whether his job is done.
Giraudon/ArtResource, NY
The Growth of Printing in Europe
The speed with which artisans spread printing technology across Europe provides strong evidence for the
existing market in reading material. Presses in the Ottoman Empire were first established by Jewish immigrants
who printed works in Hebrew, Greek, and Spanish. Use this map and those in other chapters to answer the
following questions: •1 What part of Europe had the greatest number of printing presses by 1550? Why might
this be?•2 Printing wasdeveloped in response to a market for reading materials. Use Maps 11.2 and 11.3 (pages
340 and 346) to help explain why printing spread the way it did.•3 Many historians also see printing as an
important factor in the spread of the Protestant Reformation. Use Map 14.2 (page 468) to test this assertion.
Gentile and Giovanni Bellini: Saint Mark Preaching in Alexandria
The Venetian artists Gentile and Giovanni Bellini combine figures and architecture in this painting
of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Saint Mark (on the platform) is wearing ancient Roman
dress. Behind him are male citizens of Venice in sixteenth-century Italian garb. In front of him are
Ottoman Muslim men in turbans, Muslim women in veils, and various other figures. The buildings
in the background are not those of first-century Alexandria (where Saint Mark is reported to have
preached) but of Venice and Constantinople in the sixteenth century. The setting is made even
more fanciful with a camel and a giraffe in the background. The painting glorifies cosmopolitan
Venice’s patron saint, amore important feature for the Venetian patron who ordered it than was
historical accuracy. Its clear colors and effective perspective and the individuality of the many
faces make this a fine example of Renaissance art.
Scala/Art Resource, NY
Leonardo da Vinci,
Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with
an Ermine. The enigmatic smile and
smoky quality of this portrait
can be found in many of Leonardo's
Czartoryski Museum, Krakow/TheBridgeman Art Library
Artemisia Gentileschi: Esther Before Ahaseurus (ca 1630)
In this oil painting, Gentileschi shows an Old Testament scene of the Jewish woman Esther
who saved her people from being killed by her husband, King Ahaseurus. This deliverance
is celebrated in the Jewish holiday of Purim. Both figures a rein the elaborate dress worn in
Renaissance courts. Typical of a female painter, Artemisia Gentileschi was trained by her
father. She mastered the dramatic style favored in the early seventeenth century and
became known especially for her portraits of strong biblical and mythological heroines.
Image copyright ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY
Carpaccio: Black Laborer son the Venetian Docks (detail)
Enslaved and free blacks, besides working as gondoliers on the Venetian canals,
served on the docks: here, seven black men careen—clean, caulk, and repair—a
ship. Carpaccio's reputation as one of Venice's outstanding painters rests on his eye
for details of everyday life.
Gallerie dell’Accademia,Venice/Scala/Art Resource, NY
Italian City Scene
In this detail from a fresco of the life of Saint
Barbara by the Italian painter Lorenzo Lotto,
the artist captures the mixing of social
groups in a Renaissance Italian city. The
crowd of men in the right foreground
surrounding the biblical figures includes
wealthy merchants
in elaborate hats and colorful coats. Two
mercenary soldiers carrying a sword and a
pike), probably in hire to acondottiero, wear
short doublets and tight hose stylishly slit to
reveal colored undergarments, while boys
play with toy weapons at their feet. Clothing
like that of the soldiers, which emphasized
the masculine form, was frequently the
target of sumptuary laws for both its
expense and its “indecency.” At the left,
women sell vegetables and bread, which
would have been a common sight at any
city marketplace. At the very rear, men
judge the female saint, who was thought to
have been martyred for her faith in the third
Scala/Art Resource, NY
Renaissance Wedding Chest (Tuscany, late fifteenth century)
Well-to-do brides provided huge dowries to their husbands in Renaissance Italy, and grooms often gave smaller
gifts in return, such as this wedding chest. Appreciated more for their decorative valuethan for practical storage
purposes, such chests were prominently displayed in people's homes. This 37-inch by 47-inch by 28-inch chest is
carved with ascene from classical mythology in which Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, is searching for her
daughter Proserpina also known as Persephone), who has been abducted by Pluto, the god of the underworld.
The subject may have been a commentary on Renaissance marriage, in which young women often married much
older men and went to live in their houses.
Philadelphia Museumof Art. Purchased with the BloomfieldMoore Fund and with Museum Funds, 1944[1944-15-7]
MAP 13.3 Spain in 1492
The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile in 1469 represented a
dynastic union of two houses, not a political union of two peoples. Some principalities,
such as León (part of Castile) and Catalonia (part of Aragon), had their own cultures,
languages, and legal systems. Barcelona, the port city of Catalonia, controlled a
commercial empire throughout the Mediterranean. Most of the people in Granada were
Muslims, and Muslims and Jews lived in other areas as well.
Felipe Bigarny: Ferdinand and Isabella
In these wooden sculptures, the Burgundian artist Felipe Bigarnyportrays Ferdinand
and Isabella as paragons of Christian piety, kneeling at prayer. Ferdinand is shown in
armor, a symbol of his military accomplishments and masculinity. Isabella wears a
simple white head-covering rather than something more elaborate to indicate her
modesty, a key virtue for women, though her actions and writings indicate that she
was more determined and forceful than Ferdinand.
Capilla Real, Granada/LauriePlatt Winfrey, Inc.

Chapter 1