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 city
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

GENERAL INTRODUCTION 
The Spatial Turn 
Reclaiming Domesticity 
At Home in Renaissance Bruges 
Sources and Challenges 
The Structure of the Book 

PART 1
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD: THE ORGANISATION OF DOMESTIC SPACE

INTRODUCTION 
Functional Specialisation: A Subject of Discussion 
What’s in a Name? The Nomenclature of Domestic Space 

CONNECTING THE HOUSE TO THE STREET? THE SHOP AND WORKSHOP 
Introduction 
‘Historians and the Nation of Shopkeepers’ 
Shops and Shopping in Bruges 
Similarities and Differences: The Broader Picture 

THE MERCHANT IN THE CONTOOR 
Introduction 
The Contoor in Bruges 
Similarities and Differences: The Broader Picture 

AT THE HEART OF THE HOME: ROOMS AT THE HEART OF DOMESTIC CULTURE 
The Kitchen in Bruges 
Dining Room and Salette 
The Elusive Realm of Sleep: Sleeping Rooms 
Similarities and Differences: The Broader Picture 

PART 2
DOMESTIC OBJECTS IN CONTEXT

INTRODUCTION 
DEVOTION ON DISPLAY? PAINTINGS IN DOMESTIC INTERIORS 
Introduction 
What’s in a Name? 
Possessing Paintings in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Bruges 
Canvas and Panel Paintings 
Paintings and Iconographical Themes 
Devotion on Display 
Conclusions 

FOR PUBLIC ELEGANCE AND PRIVATE COMFORT: TEXTILES AND FURNITURE 
Introduction 
Comfort and the Textile Environment 
The Seat of Authority? The Design and Social Character of Seating Furniture 
Show Me Your Bed and I’ll Tell You Who You Are! 
Keeping Up Appearances? Tapestry in the Domestic Interior 
A Colourful Interior 
Exposing or Storing Textiles: The Garderobe and the Cleerschaprade 
Conclusions 

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS 
APPENDIX 1: INVENTORY HOLDERS WHO WORKED AT HOME 
APPENDIX 2: INVENTORIES WITH ‘CONTOOR’ 
NOTES 
BIBLIOGRAPHY 
PLATES 

Format: Monograph - free ebook - PDF

320 pages

Illustrated with colour section of 32 pp.

ISBN: 9789461664389

Publication: March 02, 2022

Languages: English

Download:: https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/53179

Julie De Groot is a historian and researcher at the University of Antwerp.
Dit boek handelt over de materiële cultuur van de huizen van de Brugse middenklasse. Tot nu toe werd dit aspect weinig onderzocht: hoe leefden die mensen in het Brugge van de 16de eeuw? Hoe richtten ze hun woningen in? Welk meubilair kochten ze aan? Hoe versierden ze de binnenruimte? Deelstudies focusten op een facet van het dagelijks leven, geïnspireerd door de archeologie, de bouwgeschiedenis, de kunstgeschiedenis en de materiële culturele studies. Dit boek doet een poging om al deze facetten van ruimtes, bewoners en objecten in één studie samen te brengen. [...] De gedegen en wetenschappelijke studie is niet bedoeld als een mooi kijkboek over interieurs van de 16de eeuw. De illustraties, grotendeels gebundeld achteraan, zijn beperkt gehouden en het formaat van de papieren paperbackversie is dat van een leesboek. In elk geval een origineel en gefundeerd onderzoek!
Marjan Buyle, M&L, 41-5 (2022) 

 
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.
Rembrandt Duits, Journal of Design History, epac047, https://doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epac047

 

“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 gemaakt.
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