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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

Charles Buchanan

Type of large-format Bible, usually found in pandect (single-volume) form, produced in central Italy and Tuscany from around 1060 to the middle of the 12th century. They came out of the efforts of a reformist papacy intent on wresting control over ecclesiastical investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor. The Giant Bibles were produced in reformed canonries and monasteries and then exported to the same, not only in Italy but throughout Europe....

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

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium ...

Article

Chinese, 11th century, male.

Activec.1070-1080.

Art theorist.

Guo Ruoxu was the author of the most important work on the history of art of the Northern Song period, the Tu Hua Jian Wen zhi (1074), which saw itself as the continuation of the monumental treatise by Zhang Yanyuan, the ...

Article

Alison Stones

Legends and myths in medieval art are often symbolic rather than narrative, appearing as isolated representations on monuments and portable objects and following the tradition of Greek vase painting where individual subjects are depicted and rely on prior knowledge of the stories for recognition and understanding. World histories celebrated great heroes of the past, starting with Creation and biblical history, then the ancient and medieval world with the exploits of the Trojan heroes, Alexander the Great, King Arthur and the campaigns of Charlemagne and his nephew Roland. Northern gods such as Thor were depicted in cult statues (...

Article

Olimpia Theodoli

Italian illuminator and chronicler. Born into the noble family of de’ Marsi, he joined the abbey of Montecassino (see Montecassino, §2, (i)) at the age of 14 and gained the trust and protection of the abbot Desiderius (later Pope Victor III). Montecassino excelled under Desiderius, who promoted artistic, religious and political splendour. Leo is one of the earliest recorded illuminators in Italy as well as one of the most accomplished. Among his works is the ...

Article

Chinese, 11th century, male.

Born 1007, in Luling (Jiangxi); died 1072.

Art theorist.

Ouyang Xiu was a famous statesman, known as a man of letters and an aesthetician. As with many men of letters, his writings turn to art criticism when dealing with the many inscriptions he selected for the ...

Article

Weihe Chen

Chinese art historian and connoisseur. He was a grandnephew of Empress Guo, wife of the Emperor Zhenzong (reg 998–1023), and the son-in-law of King Xiang, brother to Emperor Renzong (reg 1023–63). He was a minor court official at Bianliang (now Kaifeng), capital of the Northern Song dynasty, but was demoted after accompanying a diplomatic mission to Liao from which a member deserted. His father and grandfather were both ardent art lovers and had a large collection of paintings, but after it was dispersed Guo struggled to regain more than ten of the most famous pictures....

Article

Chinese, 11th century, male.

Born 1031; died 1095.

Art lover, art critic.

After a brilliant career as an official, diplomat and soldier, Shen Gua wrote a monumental work of scholarship, the Address of the Stream of Dreams ( Mengqi Bitan), a veritable Summa of human knowledge encompassing fields as varied as history, politics, music, astrology and astronomy, arts and letters, mathematics, technology and archaeology. This work of genius is not merely a compilation of the works of others but the fruit of original creative thought by an observer, inventor and philosopher. Book 17 is devoted to painting and calligraphy and contains a famous passage in which Sheng Gua comes to the defence of pictorial creation as an autonomous art free from all vulgar concerns of likeness or verisimilitude. ‘The wonderful parts (or the mystery) of calligraphy and painting must be realised by the soul; they can hardly be discovered in mere forms,’ says Sirén. ‘Those who look at paintings are always able to point out faults of form, of likeness, of design and colouring, but I have seldom found people who have penetrated into the mysterious reason and depth of creative activity.... This is because his (the artist Wang Wei’s) creative activity and his reason resided in the spiritual part of his nature and because he grasped to the highest degree the idea (inspiration of Heaven). But this is hard to explain to common people.’...

Article

Su Shi  

Roderick Whitfield

Chinese painter, calligrapher, poet, essayist and scholar–official. In the West he is best known as Su Dongpo (Su Tung-p’o.

As protégé of Ouyang Xiu, in 1057 Su Shi took the national civil service examination to become a jinshi and passed with flying colours, attaining instant celebrity. His brilliant essays combined morality with pragmatism in the analysis of contemporary problems. His outspokenness brought him into disagreement with both conservatives and reformers, the latter headed by Wang Anshi (...

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

Su Shi  

Chinese, 11th century, male.

Born 1036, in Meishan (Sichuan); died 1101.

Calligrapher, poet, painter.

Be it literature, politics, poetry, calligraphy or painting, the name of Su Shi was linked with every area of cultural activity of his day. This prestigious figure was one of the most human and appealing in Chinese humanism. A scholar, he was also a politician who shared the struggles of his contemporaries; a high official, but also a refined aesthete who cultivated all the arts, conversed with scholars, monks and courtesans and enjoyed music, all types of literature, calligraphy and painting, of which he was a master....

Article

Shen Fu

Chinese calligrapher, poet and scholar-official. He is regarded as the avant-garde figure of the Four Great Calligraphers of the Northern Song (960–1127), who emphasized individual expression in their work; the others are Cai Xiang, Su Shi and Mi Fu (see Mi family, §1...

Article

Guo Xi  

Mary S. Lawton

Chinese painter and theorist. He is considered one of the most important of the late 11th-century masters. Guo Ruoxu (fl 11th century), a minor official at the court of Bianliang (modern Kaifeng), in the Tuhua jianwen zhi (‘Experiences in painting’; 1075) described Guo as supreme among the landscape painters of his generation. Other contemporary critics acclaimed his creativity, the spontaneity of his composition and the dexterity and versatility of his brushwork. Guo’s ideas on the principles of landscape painting, as recorded by his son ...

Article

Julia K. Murray

Chinese calligrapher, scholar–official and poet. From an undistinguished provincial family, he rose to prominence as an official after passing the national civil-service examination to become a jinshi in 1030. He attained his highest posts at the courts of the emperors Renzong (reg 1023–63) and Yingzong (...

Article

Amy McNair

Chinese official, literary master, historian and epigraphist. A brilliant writer of poetry and prose, he came from a provincial background but parlayed his talent for literature into an outstanding career as a government official. He was a leader in the struggle of the early Northern Song (...