The Renaissance is rightly viewed as a time of extraordinary scientific and artistic achievement and innovation. But often overlooked among the works of Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Da Vinci is how people were accessorizing. Bella Mirabella, an associate professor at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, brings this lesser-known aspect of the Renaissance to life with Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories (University of Michigan Press), an edited volume that is the first to focus on the period’s accessories, their histories, and their meanings.
With essays such as “Embellishing Herself with a Cloth: The Contradictory Life of the Handkerchief,” “ ‘Grandissima Gratia’: The Power of Italian Renaissance Shoes as Intimate Wear,” and “Scented Buttons and Perfumed Gloves: Smelling Things in Renaissance Italy,” the work reveals the crucial role ornaments played in social, political, and cultural negotiations of power and identity in the early modern period.
Illustrated with 70 color plates, Ornamentalism engages with many current areas of study, including material culture and fashion, manners and morals, gender and sexuality, as well as theater and performance.
Mirabella specializes in Renaissance studies, with a focus on drama, theater, performance, and gender.