Gaia Bruno

Aristocratic material culture in eighteenth-century Naples: the example of the Carafa di Jelsi family

  • Abstract

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Keywords:

The history of material culture is a field of research in which, nowadays, economic, social and cultural aspects of material life are studied together. An analysis of the inventories included in two civil trials attempts to reconstruct the material culture of two members of the Carafa di Jelsi (a minor branch of an ancient Neapolitan aristocratic family), who died respectively in 1727 and 1763. Some elements stand out: the different lifestyles in their urban or country houses; the signs of their cultural activities; the dual function of their jewellery serving both as an economic asset and for the ostentation of power; the social and symbolic importance of the aristocratic table; the display need for ceremonial dress. On the one hand, these costly elements appear to have stimulated the urban handicrafts economy; on the other, however, they led most of the aristocratic families to fall into debt.

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