The global city : On the streets of Renaissance Lisbon, Anne-Marie Jordan Gschwend & K. J. P. Lowe (Sous la direction de)
Anne-Marie Jordan Gschwend &(sous la direction de), The global city : On the streets of Renaissance Lisbon, Londres, Paul Holberton Publishing, 2016, 240 pages, 55 €.
Recently identified by the editors as the Rua Nova dos Mercadores, the principal commercial and financial street in Renaissance Lisbon, two sixteenth-century paintings, acquired by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1866, form the starting point for this portrait of a global city in the early modern period. Focusing on unpublished objects, and incorporating newly discovered documents and inventories that allow novel interpretations of the Rua Nova and the goods for sale on it, these essays offer a compelling and original study of a metropolis whose reach once spanned four continents. The Rua Nova views, painted by an anonymous Flemish artist, portray an everyday scene on a recognisable street, with a diverse global population. This thoroughfare was the meeting point of all kinds of people, from rich to poor, slave to knight, indigenous Portuguese to Jews and diasporic black Africans. The volume highlights the unique status of Lisbon as an entrepôt for curiosities, luxury goods and wild animals. As the Portuguese trading empire of the fifteenth and sixteenth century expanded sea-routes and networks from West Africa to India and the Far East, non-European cargoes were brought back to Renaissance Lisbon. Many rarities were earmarked for the Portuguese court, but simultaneously exclusive items were readily available for sale on the Rua Nova, the Lisbon equivalent of Bond Street or Fifth Avenue. Specialized shops offered West African and Ceylonese ivories, raffia and Asian textiles, rock crystals, Ming porcelain, Chinese and Ryukyuan lacquerware, jewellery, precious stones, naturalia and exotic animal byproducts. Lisbon was also a hub of distribution for overseas goods to other courts and cities in Europe. The cross-cultural and artistic influences between Lisbon and Portuguese Africa and Asia at this date will be re-assessed here.