Three miles north of the Manhattan courtroom where Sam Bankman Freed was tried, a very different investigation into the nature of the money is underway. The setting is the Morgan Library & Museum, and the investigation in question is an exhibit about the rise of finance. The monetary economy of medieval Europe. The centralized system that FTX rebelled against, in a sense, began in his twelfth century as agricultural advances aided by the ecological “warm period” of the Middle Ages and the expansion of trade routes brought an economic revolution to the continent. It was born in the 13th century.
Banks were established in the city-states of Spain, Scandinavia, and Italy to facilitate increasingly complex and extensive financial transactions. Coin production is booming and this fact is evident in the first exhibit visitors see.Money, merchants, and morality in the Middle Ages”: A dull pile of low-value coins minted in large quantities to feed the economy.
“These coins had a high value because previously the Mint produced very few coins. In this situation, we cannot sustain growth at all levels of the economy,” said exhibition curator Diane. Wolfthal said. “From 1100 onwards, more coins, including coins of low value, began to be produced. They were essential for market penetration into the daily lives of ordinary people.”
As money flowed into every aspect of medieval life, ennobling some and leaving others in debt, it raised a series of complex ethical issues. Chief among them was the question of how to live a good Christian life while pursuing wealth. J. Pierpont’s former Morgan mansion is a fitting place to answer such questions.
The American banker was a devout Episcopalian, and the 16th-century tapestry that still hangs in his east room suggests that he may have struggled against the corruption inherent in wealth. . victory of greedDesigned by Dutch artist Pieter Kocke van Aelst, the piece shows the personification of the deadly sins riding past the corpse of a glutton from hell on horseback.
Elsewhere, Hieronymus Bosch also participates death and miser, on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. This work remains a work full of anguish, trickery, and — at least to modern eyes — sharp wit. Death slides a thin ankle over the threshold, tempting the dying man to ignore the angel that lingers on his shoulder. Will he choose the gold in the safe or will he rely on God? Bosch leaves the decision up to the viewer.
What is unique is that works from Morgan’s collection form the basis of the exhibition, which will run until March 10th. The frontispiece from the Bologna Money Lending Association depicts a goldsmith at work in a room filled with swirling precious metals. Hans Memling’s tender portrait of an Italian merchant holding a pink flower is a stark reminder that the Northern Renaissance was largely financed by the newly minted merchant class. It becomes.
Most notable, however, were the medieval manuscripts, which Morgan voraciously collected. Together they show how money entered every aspect of medieval life. This allows for financial planning, as shown in a 16th-century calendar commissioned by Royal Chamberlain Philibert de Clermont, which recommends that men start collecting funds for retirement from the age of 48.
It fueled vice and gambling in the city, and was expressed in an illustration of a German epic poem about sin, depicting three criminals huddled around a game of dice. It deepened social inequality and led to the church acting as an economic benefactor to the poor and giving alms, as depicted in Queen Claude of France’s Prayer Book.
Concerns about the corrupting power of money became more pressing during this period, but of course they were not entirely new. The Bible is full of lessons on the virtue of frugality preached by Jesus, St. Francis, and St. Anthony, all of whom are illustrated by Morgan.
It doesn’t remind us of a simpler time, but rather of a world gripped by the same questions and stereotypes as today. According to Wolffer, religious narratives used to justify the stigmatization of Jews, or the unworthy classification of the poor, or the extraordinary wealth of a few (think of people today) please) prosperity theology Or actually effective altruism).
“We hope visitors will see how complex discussions about money were in the Middle Ages and think about the role money played in their lives,” Wohlfall said. “We have a lot to learn from our medieval past.”
See more images from the exhibition below.
Other trending articles:
Restorer discovers ‘monstrous figure’ hidden in 18th century Joshua Reynolds painting
Top-notch dinner menu recovered from the Titanic becomes a hot topic at auction
Louvre asks for donations to prevent American museum from acquiring French masterpiece
Introducing the woman behind ‘Weird Medieval Guys’ as the internet unearths strange medieval art
Golden Rothko shines at Christie’s as passion for Abstract Expressionism continues
Agnes Martin is the quiet star of New York Sales. Here’s why $18.7 million is still a bargain
Mega-collector Joseph Lau dismisses rumors that his wife lost billions in bad investments
to follow artnet news On facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, eye-opening interviews and incisive critical views that move the conversation forward.