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Creating sacred space: the religious visual culture of the Renaissance Venetian casa



Religion and its visible manifestations were fundamental and consistent aspects of the Renaissance household, yet the subject remains largely overlooked in the scholarship on the domestic environment. Based on a variety of contemporary sources for evidence, this article introduces readers to the religious visual culture of the Venetian casa through an examination of its three main components: the sacred objects acquired for the domestic sphere, the ritual settings fashioned through their display and use, and the purposes that this visible piety served for the familial audience. Holy domestic articles – which consisted of a wide variety of goods, including painting, sculpture, and decorative arts – fostered devotion within the interior setting, while serving important roles as protective devices, as aids for religious development, and as outward expressions of the family's devoutness and honorable reputation. Additionally, while located within a ‘private’ setting, religious objects from domestic spaces connected individuals and families to Venice's wider community of Christian devotion and were intimately tied to the Republic's mercantile way of life.