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Article

Jane Geddes

Deluxe manuscript (Aberdeen, U. Lib., MS. 24) made in England around 1200. It is remarkable for its lavish illustrations, amply covered in gold leaf; for the wealth of its codicological data and for its close relationship to the Ashmole Bestiary. The book was left unfinished, so sketches and the detailed instructions for its colouring and assembly remain visible. The last few pages were completed in the 14th century. The book begins with a Creation cycle of full-page miniatures culminating in ...

Article

Alchemy  

Laurinda Dixon

Ancient science from which modern chemistry evolved. Based on the concept of transmutation—the changing of substances at the elemental level—it was both a mechanical art and an exalted philosophy. Practitioners attempted to combine substances containing the four elements (fire, water, earth, and air) in perfect balance, ultimately perfecting them into a fifth, the quintessence (also known as the philosopher’s stone) via the chemical process of distillation. The ultimate result was a substance, the ‘philosopher’s stone’, or ‘elixir of life’, believed capable of perfecting, or healing, all material things. Chemists imitated the Christian life cycle in their operations, allegorically marrying their ingredients, multiplying them, and destroying them so that they could then be cleansed and ‘resurrected’. They viewed their work as a means of attaining salvation and as a solemn Christian duty. As such, spiritual alchemy was sanctioned, legitimized, and patronized by the Church. Its mundane laboratory procedures were also supported by secular rulers for material gain. Metallurgists employed chemical apparatus in their attempts to transmute base metals into gold, whereas physicians and apothecaries sought ultimately to distill a cure-all elixir of life. The manifold possibilities inherent in such an outcome caused Papal and secular authorities to limit and control the practice of alchemy by requiring licences and punishing those who worked without authorization....

Article

Writer, active in Paris. Between 1382 and 1410 he travelled to Italy on a number of occasions, where he collected recipes for the manufacture of pigments and other techniques from the artists that he met. He also borrowed manuals or handbooks on the washing, purifying and grinding of colours to assist him in his research. In ...

Article

Joan Isobel Friedman

Italian writer. He is universally recognized as the greatest poet of the Middle Ages. His masterpiece, the Divine Comedy (begun 1307 or 1314), contains many passages in which Dante expressed his appreciation of painting and sculpture, and the themes in the poem have challenged artists from the 14th century to the present day....

Article

Béla Zsolt Szakács

Luxuriously illustrated hagiographical picture book from the 14th century. The codex is fragmented; the biggest part is preserved in the Vatican (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, Vat. Lat. 8541, 106 fols),while single pages are kept in St Petersburg (Hermitage, 16930–16934), Berkeley (U. CA, Bancroft Lib., f2MSA2M21300–37), New York (Met., ...

Article

Artistic manifestations of Arthurian legends antedate surviving textual traditions and sometimes bear witness to stories that have not survived in written form. Thus the Tristan sculptures (c. 1102–17) carved on a column from the north transept of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela...

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

Italian, 14th century, male.

Active in Florence and Treviso during the first half of the 14th century.

Born 1264, in Barberino di Val d'Elsa; died 1348, in Florence.

Poet, draughtsman.

Sutton, Kay: ‘The lost 'Officiolum' of Francesco da Barberino rediscovered’ in The Burlington Magazine, n° 1224, vol. CXLVII, periodical, March 2005....

Article

Joan Isobel Friedman

Italian writer. He was the natural child of an unknown mother and Boccaccino di Chellino, a merchant banker. At the age of 14 Boccaccio was sent to Naples and apprenticed to a Florentine counting house; subsequently he attended the University of Naples, where he studied canon law and met many of the city’s leading scholars and humanists, including Paolo da Perugia, Andalo del Negro, and Cino da Pistoia. Boccaccio’s desire to pursue a literary career eventually supplanted all other interests. One of the most influential writers of the 14th century, he is now known primarily for his works in Italian, in particular the ...

Article

Lucy Freeman Sandler

Group of twelve manuscripts, primarily Psalter and Book of Hours, nearly all illustrated by in-house artists for members of the Bohun family in the second half of the 14th century. The owner–patrons were the successive earls of Essex, Hereford and Northampton: Humphrey de Bohun VI (...

Article

Masatomo Kawai

Japanese Zen monk, scholar, calligrapher, poet and painter. He began his training as a monk at Nanzenji in Kyoto, under Shun’oku Myōha, the nephew and disciple of Musō Sōseki, one of the leading Zen prelates of the Muromachi period (1333–1568). His other teachers included the Zen recluse Shakushitsu Genkō and Gidō Shūshin, under whom he studied literature. A trusted adviser of the fourth Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimochi, Gyokuen was appointed to the prestigious abbacies of Kenninji (...

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

Alison Beringer

Typological work conceived and produced by the German Cistercian Ulrich von Lilienfeld and completed between 1351 and 1358. It contains material for sermons organized de Tempore and de Sanctis and the Commune sanctorum followed by a shorter final section consisting of sermon material on the Ten Commandments and a pictorial cycle covering various religious topics (e.g. vices and virtues) that Munscheck has recently termed a ...

Article

Janet Southorn

Italian writer. He studied logic, medicine, natural science, and law at the University of Bologna. After retiring from public life Crescenzio wrote the Liber ruralium commodorum (c. 1304–9), better known as the Trattato della agricoltura, the first agricultural treatise composed in Europe since the 5th century ...

Article

Catherine Harding

Italian parish priest, manuscript illuminator and scholar. His drawings explored the connections between vision, reason and spirituality. In particular, he was drawn to the idea of training the ‘inner eye’ of reason, and he hoped that his images would provide tools for spiritual discernment. He worked as a schoolmaster and priest until ...

Article

Sandra L. Hindman

Italian writer and publisher, active in France.

At the age of four Christine went with her father, Tommaso di Benvenuto da Pizzano (whose name reflects the origin of his family in the small town of Pizzano in the foothills of Bologna), to Paris, where he served as physician and astrologer to Charles V. In ...

Article

Wang Fu  

Vyvyan Brunst and James Cahill

Chinese painter, calligrapher and poet. Following early promise as a painter and poet, Wang Fu passed the provincial examinations—the second stage in the civil service examination ladder—to receive his juren degree in 1376. He went to Nanjing soon after to take up a government post, but in ...

Article

Fushimi  

Cecil H. Uyehara

Ninety-second emperor of Japan, calligrapher and poet. The second son of Emperor GoFukakusa (reg 1246–60), he abdicated in favour of his son GoFushimi (reg 1298–1301) in 1298 and later retired to a monastery. He was one of the most talented calligraphers among Japanese emperors and indeed one of the outstanding calligraphers of the Kamakura period (...

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Richly illuminated manuscript of the Passover liturgy together with a series of liturgical poems to be read during the Passover week (London, BL, Add. MS. 27210), possibly made in Barcelona, c. 1320. This text was to be recited during the seder ceremony at the eve of the Passover holiday. Like most medieval Haggadot (...

Article

Qingli Wan and Chu-Tsing Li

Chinese painter. He was designated one of the Four Masters of the Yuan, together with Ni Zan, Wu Zhen and Wang Meng. Born into a family named Lu, he was orphaned when very young. The impoverished Lu family had him adopted when he was seven or eight by a Mr Huang of Yongjia, Zhejiang Province, who was living in Changshu at the time. Since Huang was about 90 years old and without male offspring, the names Huang Gongwang and Zijiu were chosen, which together mean ‘Mr Huang has desired a son for a long time’....