A Brief History of Money and Religion

Perhaps because the origin of money is closely associated with a Roman religious ritual for Juno's sister and wife, Juno Moneta, the first Roman coins were minted in her temple. Moneta is, of course, the origin of our word "money".[16]

These stained glass windows appear in the National Farmers' Bank in Otawanna, Minnesota, built near the turn of the century. "[Famed Chicago architect Louis H.] Sullivan had in mind a recourse as the only available bedrock of value in a secular age that was bereft of any belief apart from the treadmill of pursuing material wealth as an end in itself." Sullivan saw the bank as a good vehicle for this vision. To him, banks represented the intersection of nature and culture in a public institution. [17]

Late nineteeth century bank architecture clearly reflects the elevation of money to religious importance in America.

At this time, the first art museums were also built in neo-classical style as temples for culture.

In comparison, Churches in America were predominantly neo-Gothic. A taste for this style was left over from its popularity in the Romantic era.[18]

America's Gilded Age produces an interesting first in painting. In 1887, the trompe l'oeil painter, William Harnett "invents" money painting. Harnett was the first to paint currency itself as the subject matter of high art. According to Taylor, paper currency itself had aestheticized the commodity making the token of exchange a work of art, Harnett made the work of art, a work of art -- a representation of a sign (paper currency) of a sign (gold). [19]