Marietta’s Maps: Female Map Ownership in Renaissance Venice

Thursday, January 2, 2014: 1:00 PM
Columbia Hall 7 (Washington Hilton)
Genevieve Carlton, University of Louisville
Marietta’s Maps: Female Map Ownership in Renaissance Venice

            Marietta Pisani’s home contained seven maps amongst her collection of over fifty images. Elisabette Condulmer displayed a map of the world next to images of the Madonna. Cornelia Bellon paired  her map of Italy with religious images. These clues, contained in the household inventories of Renaissance Venice, hint at the tastes and interests of female map owners. Yet although we can reconstruct the interior of these women’s homes using the inventories made at their deaths, we know very little about their reasons for buying maps, or even if they themselves selected these works for display in their homes. In the already murky field of Renaissance map consumption, female map ownership remains almost completely hidden.

            In the Renaissance, maps were not conceived of as solely masculine objects. Italy produced more maps in the sixteenth century than any other region, and Venice was the center of map publishing. The wave of new printed maps found a ready market among Venice’s wealthy and even middling classes, as maps came to signify one’s education and connection to the broader cosmopolitan world. This paper will address female map ownership in Renaissance Venice by looking both at women who owned maps as well as the interest in maps more broadly among Italian consumers.

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