Early Modern “Popular Luxury”

Just published in the Journal of Early Modern History, Volume 24 (2020): Issue 4-5 (September 2020), pp 407-429:

Popular Luxury in Southeastern Europe in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Case-study of Italian Ceramics and Ottoman Greek Clients


In late-eighteenth-century Ottoman Epirus (today northwestern Greece), novel and pleasurable objects expressed on a material level the rise of new mentalities. We discuss specifically the ceramic trefoil jugs with Greek verses manufactured in Pesaro, Italy, by the firm of Casali and Callegari and its successors. These wine jugs follow a pre-existing formal typology and bear painted decoration; their particularity is that they are also inscribed with verses written in Greek, as they were produced following commissions by merchants from Epirus. This region boasted centers of commerce, wealth and education of an emerging middle class; the economic power of this rising Greek bourgeoisie was combined with deepening ties with Europe, intellectual growth, and the strengthening of a distinct identity. We argue that these jugs are examples of popular luxury and the commissioning individuals were knowledgeable and proactive consumers exhibiting a growing confidence and indeed a new awareness with political connotations.