Worldly Goods

Powerful Essays
Worldly Goods

Lisa Jardine has written a very comprehensive, easy to read, book. The book,

Worldly Goods, is a history of the Renaissance. The book provides interesting insights on

culture, art, music, science, business, and human relations during the renaissance.

Beginning by examining art as the consumer good that it was, Jardine constructs a cultural

history of the Renaissance. She presents the facts in an easy to follow, well constructed


The most important point the book is making is as follows: The pursuit of material

goods and valuable possessions, including religious and secular art, was a defining

characteristic of the Renaissance period. This is the thesis of the book. The entire book

relates to how greedy and power hungry men became during the period. The title Worldly

Goods, is an indication of this. Rich men of the period were in constant search of material

worldly goods, such as fine paintings, sculpture, marble, rare stone, porcelain, silk from

China, broadcloth from London, rich velvet, and fine carvings. These items are hardly a

symbol of the deeply religious era the Renaissance is considered to be. The aristocracy

had to find ways to distinguish themselves from the commoners. Having lavish palaces

filled with rare and expensive art is what they came up with. "The buyer identified an

artist whose work he liked; his agent sought him out and arranged the terms." (23)

This is an indication as to the trouble a rich man would go to have something considered


The artist themselves, as explained by Jardine, were also wealth inspired.

Preexisting ideas that the great artists of the time period were influenced by humanism are

completely destroyed by the Author. ...

... middle of paper ...

... aimed at general audiences, rather than scholars. The language of the book

helped me to find the book enjoyable. However, this is not a book I would recommend

to just anyone. I feel that readers with a true interests in art, power, the Renaissance, or

history would find the book enjoyable. It was not my favorite non-fiction book, but I did

like reading it.

I gained incredible insights into the motivations of the Renaissance period by

reading this book. I learned a great deal about the duality of man, and his need for

acceptance and humanitarian motives. I learned that the artists and admirers of art in the

period were not only concerned with the beauty of art, but also the monetary value of it,

which is something that continues into today's society.

Jardine, Lisa Worldly Goods. Doubleday Dell Publishing Group

New York, NY 1996. 470 pgs.
Get Access