Focusing on the ceremonial exchange of gifts on New Year’s Day (the “étrenne”) at the Valois courts, this essay examines gift giving in late medieval court society. Based on visual clues culled from a few surviving objects and book presentation scenes as well as on information from inventories and household accounts, the performative context of the “étrennes” and a typology of gifts are reconstructed. Central to the argument is the notion that objects and images brought a key ingredient to rituals of gift giving – a “surplus of visibility.”

http://www.jstor.org/pss/3177225

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