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Cover for Marking Time

Marking Time

Objects, People, and Their Lives, 1500-1800

Edward Town (Editor), Angela McShane (Editor)


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An engaging, encyclopedic account of the material world of early modern Britain as told through a unique collection of dated objects

The period from 1500 to 1800 in England was one of extraordinary social transformations, many having to do with the way time itself was understood, measured, and recorded. Through a focused exploration of an extensive private collection of fine and decorative artworks, this beautifully designed volume explores that theme and the variety of ways that individual notions of time and mortality shifted. The feature uniting these more than 450 varied objects is that each one bears a specific date, which marks a significant moment—for reasons personal or professional, religious or secular, private or public. From paintings to porringers, teapots to tape measures, the objects—and the stories they tell—offer a vivid sense of the lived experience of time, while providing a sweeping survey of the material world of early modern Britain.

Praise For Marking Time: Objects, People, and Their Lives, 1500-1800

“A deft and engaging exemplar for future scholars . . . For all its somber modesty, an audacious, resolutely anti-elitist book.”—Ellenor Alcorn, Magazine Antiques

"Marking Time is an important addition to the histories of time, temporality, and the social, cultural, political, and economic history of early modern Britain. . . . The attention to detail shown throughout the book, both in the research and the presentation, makes this volume a beautiful temporal object in its own right and an impressive resource that should be widely read across a wide range of disciplines."—Alexandra M. Macdonald, H-Net

“. . . an ambitious exploration of a subject that has rarely—perhaps never—been addressed by design historians.”—Ellenor Alcorn, Magazine Antiques

YC British Art, 9780300254105, 512pp.

Publication Date: November 24, 2020

About the Author

Edward Town is head of collections information and access and assistant curator of early modern art at the Yale Center for British Art. Angela McShane is head of research development, theWellcome Collection, London.