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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....



Italian, 15th – 16th century, male.

Born c. 1460; died 1528, in Bózzolo.

Goldsmith, sculptor, medallist, copyist. Statues, statuettes.

Antico was from Mantua and went to Rome in 1495 and 1497. His first commission was in 1479, for a pair of medals commemorating the wedding of Gianfranceso Gonzaga to Antonia del Banzo. His first visit to Rome, in ...


Danielle B. Joyner

From the time John Cassian established the first female foundation in Marseille in ad 410, monastic women lived in varying states of enclosure and were surrounded by diverse images and objects that contributed to their devotion, education and livelihood. The first rule for women, written in 512 by St Caesarius of Arles, emphasized their strict separation from men and the world, as did the ...


Cristina De Benedictis

Italian painter and illuminator. He was the son of the goldsmith Filippuccio (fl 1273–93). In 1948 Longhi attributed a fresco of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with SS James and John the Evangelist in the church of S Jacopo, San Gimignano, and others in the tower of the Palazzo del Popolo there to Memmo, who is documented as having lived and worked in the town from ...


Italian, 16th century, male.

Active in Sebenico (now Sibenik, Croatia).

Born c. 1530; died c. 14 May 1596.

Illuminator, goldsmith.

In 1578 Fortezza also worked on the restoration of paintings.


Goldsmith, sculptor, and painter, probably of German origin. None of his works is known to have survived, but he is mentioned twice in mid-15th-century texts: in the second book of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Commentarii and in the manuscript of the Anonimo Magliabecchiano. Both texts relate that Gusmin died during the reign of Pope Martin (i.e. Martin V, ...


Neil Stratford

Metalworker and illuminator, active in England. The Gesta sacristarum of Bury St Edmunds Abbey, written in the late 13th century, mentions magister Hugo three times. He ‘sculpted’ (insculptas) two metal doors (valvas) for the church façade, surpassing even himself in this wonderful work; Hervey the sacrist, for his brother Prior Talbot (...


Flemish School, 15th century, male.

Born possibly in Limbricht, near Maeseyck.


Burgundy School.

These three brothers, nephews of the painter Jean Malouel, are thought to have served their apprenticeship in the workshop of a goldsmith in Paris. Details of the dates of their births are unknown, but it is thought that all died some time in ...


Italian, 12th century, male.

Active in Puglia.

Sculptor, illuminator, goldsmith.


Italian, 16th century, male.

Born 1523, in Parma; died 18 August 1567, in Ferrara.

Engraver (burin), medallist, illustrator.

Vico is documented in Rome at a very young age, where he was taught by Tommaso Barlacchi. He also studied the style of Giulio Bonatsone, Caroglio, Agostino, Veneziano, Marcantoni Raimondi and the other masters of Italian engraving. He was summoned by Cosimo de' Medici to Florence, where he engraved several works by Michelangelo and the portraits of Charles V and Henry II. He was also active in Venice....


French, 16th century, male.

Born in Neufchâteau (Vosges).

Engraver, goldsmith.

Active between 1503 and 1533, Jacquemin Woeiriot made engravings to illustrate Books of Hours and scientific works as well as engravings of religious subjects. He was the father of Claude Woeiriot.