Did ordinary Italians have a 'Renaissance'? This book presents the first in-depth exploration of how artisans and small local traders experienced the material and cultural Renaissance. Drawing on a rich blend of sixteenth century visual and archival evidence, it examines how individuals and families at artisanal levels (such as shoemakers, barbers, bakers and innkeepers) lived and worked, managed their household economies and consumption, socialised in their homes, and engaged with the arts and the markets for luxury goods. It demonstrates that although the economic and social status of local craftsmen and traders was relatively low, their material possessions show how these men and women who rarely make it into the history books were fully engaged with contemporary culture, cultural customs and the urban way of life.
Paula Hohti Erichsen is Professor of the History of Art and Culture at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki, Finland, and scientific director of the ERC consolidator-grant funded project 'Refashioning the Renaissance: Popular Groups, Fashion, and the Material and Cultural Significance of Clothing in Europe, 1550-1650'. She is specialized in studies of Italian Renaissance dress, material culture, and decorative arts, with a special focus on their role and function within the classes of artisans and shopkeepers. Having received her PhD in Art History in 2006 from the University of Sussex in England, she has held research positions at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, the European University Institute in Florence and Bard Graduate Centre in New York, and she has been a principal investigator in two major UK-based international research projects-the "Material Renaissance: Costs and Consumption in Italy 1350-1600" and "Fashioning the Early Modern: Creativity and Innovation in Europe, 1500-1850," led by Professor Evelyn Welch.