At Home in Renaissance Bruges
Connecting Objects, People and Domestic Spaces in a Sixteenth-Century City
Julie De Groot
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Domestic materiality in a remarkable European
How did citizens in Bruges create a home? What did an ordinary domestic interior look like in the sixteenth century? And more importantly: how does one study the domestic culture of bygone times by analysing documents such as probate inventories? These questions seem straightforward, yet few endeavours are more challenging than reconstructing a sixteenth-century domestic reality from written sources. This book takes full advantage of the inventory as a source and convincingly frames household objects in their original context of use. Meticulously connecting objects, people and domestic spaces, the book introduces the reader to the rich material world of Bruges citizens in the Renaissance, their sensory engagement, their religious practice, the daily activities of men and women, and other social factors. By weaving insights from material culture studies with urban history, At Home in Renaissance Bruges offers an appealing and holistic mixture of in-depth socio-economic, cultural and material analysis. In its approach the book goes beyond heavy-handed theories and stereotypes about the exquisite taste of aristocratic elites, focusing instead on the domestic materiality of Bruges’ middling groups. Evocatively illustrated with contemporary paintings and images of furniture and textiles from Bruges and beyond, this monograph shows a nuanced picture of domestic materiality in a remarkable European city.
Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).
“Be careful with formulating large stories and generalisations about
evolution in material culture and consumption culture. Each (urban) community
has its own story to tell.”
Read a Q&A with Julie De Groot
CONNECTING THE HOUSE TO THE STREET? THE SHOP AND WORKSHOP
THE MERCHANT IN THE CONTOOR
AT THE HEART OF THE HOME: ROOMS AT THE HEART OF DOMESTIC CULTURE
FOR PUBLIC ELEGANCE AND PRIVATE COMFORT: TEXTILES AND FURNITURE
Format: Monograph - paperback
Size: 230 × 170 × 22 mm
Illustrated with colour section of 32 pp.
Publication: March 29, 2022
Stock item number: 147352
Much scholarship on sixteenth-century material culture in the Netherlands focuses on the cosmopolitan metropolis of Antwerp and, more specifically, its wealthy entrepreneurs. Julie De Groot’s choice to study Bruges’s non-elite households is, therefore, a much welcome – and much needed – addition to the research on domestic objects and domesticity in the 1500s, even more so as the study is available both in paperback and as an open-access e-book. As the author convincingly argues, Bruges offers an interesting case study because it illustrates a ‘gradual transition [...] from an international metropolis to a sizeable provincial centre’. Likewise, by concentrating on the neither wealthy nor poor ‘middling sort’, and on shopkeepers and artisans in particular, At Home in Renaissance Bruges provides information on the material fabric of ordinary burghers’ lives in the turbulent sixteenth century.
Barbara Kaminska, bmgn — Low Countries Historical Review | Volume 137 (2022), https://doi.org/10.51769/bmgn-lchr.13449
As De Groot shows, the resulting economic downturn was not as severe as past scholarship assumed, but there was nevertheless a gradual decrease of industry and trade, a loss of international connections, and an exodus of merchants and skilled artisans, including painters. Thus, At Home in Renaissance Bruges allows an unusual peek into the homes of a city that was still of substance but had effectively been reduced to a middling position in its own right, following the fashions of Antwerp rather than setting trends for others.
“The best rooms have something to say about the people
who live in them.”, zei de bekende
interieurarchitect David Hicks ooit. De publicatie At home in
Renaissance Bruges van historica Julie De Groot beaamt dit. Aan de hand van boedelinventarissen worden
verschillende levens van Bruggelingen uit de zestiende eeuw opnieuw zichtbaar
Michelle Coenen, Bladspiegel, 29 juli 2022
Brugge was een ontmoetingsplaats voor humanistische geleerden, maar hoe creëerden de Bruggelingen een thuis, hoe zag een gewoon wooninterieur eruit in de 16de eeuw, en nog belangrijker, hoe bestudeer je eigenlijk de huiselijke cultuur van vervlogen tijden door documenten zoals nalatenschapsinventarissen te analyseren? Door objecten, mensen en huiselijke ruimtes, nauwgezet met elkaar te verbinden, laat het boek, “At Home in Renaissance Bruges” kennismaken met de rijke materiële wereld van de Brugse burgers in de Renaissance, hun zintuiglijke betrokkenheid, hun religieuze praktijk, de dagelijkse activiteiten van zowel mannen als vrouwen, en andere sociale factoren.
Michel Dutrieue, Stretto, 28 april 2022