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Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time....

Article

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ...

Article

Adam S. Cohen

Oldest extant complete Vulgate Bible (505×340 mm; Florence, Bib. Medicea–Laurenziana, MS. Amiatinus 1), produced in Monkwearmouth–Jarrow, Northumbria, around ad 700 at the behest of Abbot Ceolfrid. The Codex Amiatinus is notable for its immense dimensions and size; its 1030 folios likely required over 1500 calves to produce enough parchment. More remarkably, there were three such pandects (single-volume Bibles), one each for the monasteries at Monkwearmouth and Jarrow (only fragments survive), while the Codex Amiatinus was destined for the papacy in Rome (Ceolfrid died on the journey in 716). The script imitates Italian uncial and was based on an exemplar of the 6th century. Bede reports that Benedict Biscop, founder of the double monastery, and Ceolfrid travelled to Italy and returned with books; one was almost certainly Cassiodorus’s Codex Grandior, a 6th-century pandect from Vivarium, now lost. The relationship of the illustrations in the Codex Amiatinus to the Codex Grandior has long been debated. Some of the contents and certainly the style of illustration in the Codex Amiatinus, above all the portrait of ...

Article

A. Wallert

Medieval treatise containing a collection of chemical recipes, with descriptions on the preparation and application of pigments and dyes. It is a parchment codex written by different hands in the late 8th or early 9th century. The manuscript (Lucca, Bib. Capitolare, Cod. 490) is sometimes called the ‘Lucca manuscript’ but is better known as ...

Article

One of the few surviving, early medieval, Latin technical treatises. Its attribution, localization, and dating rest largely on internal evidence variously interpreted and inconclusive. The treatise now comprises three books: it is generally agreed that Books I and II, written in verse by one hand at some time between the 7th and 12th centuries, constitute the original text; Book III, written in prose, was added piecemeal during the 12th and 13th centuries. The treatise is commonly attributed to ...

Article

Chiara Stefani

Italian saint, pope, and writer. Born into a noble family, he received a broad cultural education that was later enriched by biblical and patristic studies. His activities as pope also indicate that he had a good grounding in law. After serving as Prefect of Rome (573), he retired from the world, devoting his wealth to the relief of poverty and the foundation of monasteries, one of which, St Andrew’s in Rome, he entered as a monk; but ...

Article

May Vieillard-Troïekouroff

Gallo-Roman saint, bishop, and writer. He was appointed Bishop of Tours in ad 573. He came from a distinguished family that played a pre-eminent role in Gaul. His writings, the History of the Franks and books of miracles of the saints, provide reliable evidence of 6th-century buildings and monuments, documenting, for example, the existence of 408 sanctuaries. A sanctuary would be built over the tomb of a saint at the same time that a bishop, in an attempt to institute a cult in that saint’s honour, commissioned a life of the saint. As Gregory often had to decide questions concerning the construction or decoration of churches he must have looked closely at the buildings he visited. His accounts of Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral, St Martin, Tours, and Old St Peter’s, Rome, with their measurements and details of the number of columns and windows, recall the dry listings of the ...

Article

Roger Goepper

Chinese calligrapher, theorist and scholar–official. The only reliable source about his life is a memorial text by his friend, the poet Chen Zi’ang (ad 656–95), which reports that Sun lived in poor circumstances and died young. It is known that he served in minor positions at the court of the Tang empress Wu (...

Article

Xie He  

Keith Pratt

Chinese painter and writer . A portrait painter at the court of the Southern Qi dynasty in Nanjing, he is renowned as the author of the earliest extant Chinese text on the theory of painting and one of the most influential. His work Gu huapin lu...

Article

Constanze M. Schummer

(b Pavia, c. ad 920; d c. 970–73). Frankish historian, diplomat and Bishop of Cremona. His two unusually informative accounts of missions to Constantinople are of great art-historical interest. The Antapodosis (Book of Revenge) enthusiastically describes the union of art, culture and ceremonial he observed on a visit to the court of Constantine VII in 949, introducing Western readers to Byzantine self-representation. The ...

Article

Kate Wilson

Lineage of Chinese landscape painting defined in the late 16th century and early 17th by the critics and theorists Dong Qichang, Chen Jiru and Mo Shilong (c.1538–87). The Northern school is seen as opposed to the Southern school. Dong Qichang and his contemporaries sought to rejuvenate painting by studying correct ancient models and identified the two schools as the main painting traditions, positioning major artists of the past within one or the other. The terms Northern and Southern relate not to geographical areas but to a division in Chan (Jap. Zen) Buddhism. Thus artists of the Northern school are associated with the Northern division of Chan, which holds that enlightenment is gradual and achieved through diligent application. This is not to suggest that Northern school artists were necessarily followers of Chan Buddhism; rather, their approach to painting was, in the opinion of the theorists, analogous with the courtly, instructional teaching of Northern Chan. The analogy applies both to the artists’ manner of working and to their style of painting....

Article

Grover Zinn

Syrian monk and writer. Four treatises and eight letters, originally written in Greek, circulated in the medieval period under the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite, the 1st-century Athenian convert of Paul the Apostle. The Dionysian corpus covered mystical, theological, and liturgical topics, along with the place of material symbols of spiritual realities, all within a Neo-platonic framework. The Byzantine Emperor Michael II (...

Article

Ravello  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. Ravello has been documented as an urban centre since the 10th century and as a bishopric since 1087. The centre, near the Toro quarter, is high up between the two rivers that separate the city from ...

Article

Scala  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. According to the 10th-century Chronicon Salernitanum, where it is referred to as Cama, Scala is the oldest centre along the entire Amalfi coast and has its origins in Late Antiquity. However, documentary proof that the city existed is only available from the beginning of the 10th century. Throughout history it has been home to a commercial aristocracy with commercial and political power throughout the entire Kingdom of Sicily. The Sasso and d’Afflitto families stood out from others in this group. Monasteries have been recorded in the city from the 10th century and it was under the control of the Duchy of Amalfi for the entire medieval period....

Article

Kate Wilson

Lineage of Chinese landscape painting defined in the late 16th century and the early 17th by the critics and theorists Dong Qichang, Chen Jiru and Mo Shilong (c. 1538–87). The Southern school is seen as opposed to the Northern school. Dong Qichang and his contemporaries positioned major artists of the past within one or the other school. The artists of the Southern school are associated with the Southern Chan (Jap. Zen) Buddhist concept of the individual self as the key to sudden and intuitive enlightenment. This is not to suggest that Southern school artists were necessarily followers of Chan Buddhism, but that their approach to the creative process of painting and the styles they adopted were in keeping with the Southern Chan emphasis on direct personal experience. Dong Qichang advocated the Southern school as the ‘correct line of transmission’ in painting, and this view has acted as a filter for subsequent Chinese art history. In the Qing period (...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Robert E. Harrist jr

(b ad 600; reg 626–49; d 649). Chinese emperor, patron and art collector. He was the second emperor of the Tang dynasty (ad 618–907), not to be confused with Emperor Taizong (reg 976–97) of the Song period (960–1279). He staged a coup d’état to gain power, assassinating his elder brother, the rightful heir, and forcing his father, Emperor Gaozu (...

Article

Keith Pratt

Chinese art historian . He is known as the compiler of the Fa shu yaolu (‘Essential records of Chinese calligraphers’), a compendium of earlier writings on calligraphy, and the author of Lidai minghua ji (‘Record of famous painters of all periods’). The latter, based on Xie He...

Article

Chinese, 9th century, male.

Born c. 810; died c. 880.

Art critic, art historian, collector.

The scion of an illustrious line of officials, Zhang Yanyuan probably took his first steps as an art historian in his family’s own rich collections. He wrote a monumental work of art history, the ...