Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

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The Topography of Money: The Architecture and Urbanism of Banks in Renaissance Italy
by Jacobi, Lauren Anne, Ph.D., New York University, 2012, 469; 3524161
Abstract (Summary)

This work is the first comprehensive study of the location and architectural language of buildings used for banking in Italy during the Renaissance. This overlooked topic concentrates unprecedented attention on the broad cultural importance these buildings, with an eye turned towards technological changes in banking. The dissertation traces and interprets shifts in edifices that were used for banking and minting, while underscoring their topological context. This analysis yields a clearer picture of how these buildings both shaped and were informed by contemporary attitudes towards money—a highly polemical issue because it was intertwined deeply with the Christian sin of usury. In examining how the early modern city altered diachronically, my dissertation tracks the gradual reification of money and offers a better understanding capitalism's contentious early history.

The dissertation's chapters are organized through typological case studies that press questions about the history of monetary distribution and flow, and the culturally driven demarcation of space. Chapter one focuses on the Monti di Pietà, an institution established in 1462 to lend money against pawned property at low interest rates. The Monti di Pietà were frequently housed around a town's most prominent piazza, marking a deliberate association between commune, charity, and monetary circulation. As Monti di Pietà increasingly materialized and then became deposit banks, a distinctive visual vocabulary emerged to signal buildings that were used for monetary lending and deposit. Chapter two is a systematic study of the visual designation and articulation of local and international banks in Florence, while Chapter three addresses those bank types in Rome. Both stress an analysis of differing patterns of bank clustering and dispersion in each city. These chapters present a reconsideration of the Italian residential palazzo as domestic space, seeing it additionally as a site where business transactions occurred. The final section of the dissertation interprets the general spatial location of the points where capital was collected and distributed through banks in Rome, a topic that is interrelated to the daily and ritual life of the Florentine-dominated Canale di Ponte, where the banks congregated, thereby considering the issue of the national, non-native identity of space in Rome.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Trachtenberg, Marvin
Commitee: Nagel, Alexander, Rice, Louise
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Art history, Architecture, Banking
Keywords: Art history, Banking history, Banks, Florence, Italy, Local banking, Monte di Pieta, Renaissance, Rome
Publication Number: 3524161
ISBN: 9781267584137
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