NB. the exhibition has been extended through 28 January 2021.
Questions of historical worth are the focus of this exhibition. What did a tapestry cost in the 16th century? What was the price of goldsmiths’ work or stained glass? How did variables like raw materials, work hours, levels of expertise and artistry, geography, and rarity affect value? In inventoried collections, did the cost of production align with perceived market valuation? And who assigned these values? Through 62 masterpieces of 16th-century northern European art from The Met collection, along with one important loan, the exhibition explores relative value systems in the Renaissance era.
The display is organized in seven sections—raw materials, natural world, virtuosity, technological advances, utility, recreation, and fame—and within each section, examples of tapestry, stained and vessel glass, sculpture, paintings, precious metalwork, and enamels are juxtaposed with pricing data from 16th-century documents. The original owners of these works assessed the value of their belongings in various, sometimes unexpected, ways. By exploring different 16th-century yardsticks of gauging worth, by probing extrinsic versus intrinsic value, and by presenting works of different media and function side by side, the exhibition captures a sense of the splendor and excitement of this era.
For more information and a list of objects included in the exhibition, see this page on the Met’s website.