Renaissance Venice was a multicultural metropolis where migration and mobility shaped the daily lives of its inhabitants. Its position at the crossroads of trade routes linking Europe to the Islamic World brought a continuous flow of commodities like pigments, spices, and luxury objects. In the homes of Venetians, these imported goods complemented locally-made products like maiolica, or tin-glazed earthenware.
Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads recreates a sensory world of objects, foregrounding visual conversations across cultures as well as artisan trades as they took shape through the manipulation of materials, form, colour, and ornament.
Featuring works ranging from Chinese porcelain and Islamic metalware to Venetian textiles and glass, this exhibition explores how objects connected cultures and geographies during the Renaissance. It questions the role of objects and images in stimulating significant forms of encounter, and more specifically, the role of ceramics in encapsulating cultural exchanges and intersections.
This dynamic web of relationships forms the backdrop for the story of Venice’s maiolica industry as it developed throughout the 1500s. Key to its success was the influx of migrant artisans from other parts of the Italian peninsula, privileged access to materials, and vibrant market demand. At the forefront are the lived experiences of people across the social spectrum, from the makers of objects to the wealthy elites. Visitors are invited to step into the workshop of the potter-entrepreneur and engage in a counter-narrative that seeks to recover the experiences of Renaissance women from different walks of life.
A global city in constant movement, Renaissance Venice parallels our own lives in many ways. Works by contemporary artists Lindsay Montgomery, Dorie Millerson, and Nadia Myre expand upon the connections between the present and the legacies of the past. Each brings a feminist critique that focuses, respectively, on story-telling traditions, domestic labour and exploitation, and Venice’s symbolic connection to the Americas and Indigenous Peoples through printed publications.
Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads features over 110 objects including ceramic, glass, metalware, printed books, lace, velvets, carpets, painting, and prints. Participating lenders include the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Royal Ontario Museum, the Aga Khan Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Bata Shoe Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by catalogue published by Hirmer Art Publishers.