Art Used Within the Home When traveling to Italy, it is impossible to not notice all of the beautiful art surrounding the city.
From towering cathedrals to vast frescos that cover entire Basilica to the intricate sculptures that spread throughout the city, it is nothing short of incredible. With that being said, not all art was created for the public and were kept within a collection or in one’s home. From Military medals and beautiful jewelry to birth trays and wedding chests there are some wonderful works of art that were not kept out for all to see.During the early renaissance, specifically during the reign of Sixtus IV military medals were a small work that could easily be passed from person to person and were often used as gifts and displayed in one’s home.
Using a die and a great force, these medals were struck on both sides creating intricate designs and text. Using a soft metal, these were also sculpted and sometimes cast. With a cast, a mold could be created and thus they could be created in mass quantities. These were often either given out as gifts, souvenirs, awards, or merely as display for their beauty. They were usually displayed in the home for company to see when visiting to commemorate the person or event that was displayed on the medal. Pope Julius II was a military man, constantly seen on horseback or infront of an army of men.
A number of these medals were created to commemorate Julius and what he did to help Rome during the early renaissance. Pope Sixtus also commemorate himself or Ponte Sisto, the bridge that was created for pilgrims to move about the city of rome easily when they came to pay their respects. Another form of art that was commonly used in the home were birth trays and bowls. These were intricate bowls and trays that were decorated to celebrate a successful child birth. At this time, with the sickness and disease going around it was common for a mother to lose a child during delivery.
These trays started becoming more common in the late 14th century and were decorated in bulk and given as gifts to a new mother. They were generally made in bulk within shops and then later personalized with a family crest or insignia. These trays and bowls usually depicted a scene of classic mythology or a scene of the Old Testament. It was common to see a scene of The Birth of the Virgin of the patrons saint.
These were kept for a long period of time after the successful birth and usually displayed happy, joyful scenes. It was thought that whatever the mother of the child saw around the time of childbirth was reflected onto the child, so they often painted birthing scenes with a mother and the newborn in peace.Spalliera and wedding chests were often given as gifts and displayed in ones bedroom. A Spalliera is a decorated backboard that was wider than it was tall, depicting any number of different scenes.
Most often, these backboards were depicting a romantic or wedding scene and were displayed in the bedroom behind the wedding chest. They were carved out of wood and painted to create a beautiful work that could hang proudly in a bedroom. Botticelli and Piero di Cosimo were two painters who were very well known for this type of painting; the ability to paint a beautiful scene using perspective and framing it in such a wide format was something these two did very well. As for the wedding chests, these were placed in the bedroom or wedding suite and were a sign of wealth or higher class. Used as a piece of furniture as well as a class symbol, these chests were a very important gift at the time. The wedding chests often depicted religious or romantic scenes and were beautifully carved and painted often with gold leaf or very rich colors. What these chests really reflected of the recipient was wealth and class. These chests were mainly used as a status symbol as well as a functional gift after becoming wed.
With that being said, the intricate, detailed carvings and the vibrant scenes depicted were a luxury that not everyone got a chance to experience.Another way for a woman to show off her lavish wealth was with jewelry. Gold and gems were a way that women could express their wealth out in public or around the house when company came over. Rings, necklaces, and brooches were most common, and were usually given as gifts from the husband to assert wealth. By the husband giving his wife expensive jewelry he was showing her in a beautiful, glorified light but he also was showing off his own personal wealth and class. There were even limitations as to how long after being married a wife could wear jewelry and what she was limited to wear.Weather it be a wedding chest, military medal, or a beautiful birth tray, art that was made for the home was beautiful in its own way.
The fact that this art was more secretive, private, and not in public display for everyone to see gave these art forms their own special style; a style that could not be had by the many statues or cathedrals that could be seen throughout Italy.