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Article

French, 16th century, male.

Active in Metz in 1596.

Sculptor, founder, metal worker.

School of Lorraine.

Working with four founders, Hutinet, Dubois, Sonois and Voitié, François Abel cast the bell of the cathedral of Metz in eastern France.

Article

Italian, 16th century, male.

Born 1538; died 22 May 1591, in Vienna.

Sculptor, medallist.

Prague School.

Antonio Abondio appears to have been the great 16th-century master in his field. He worked first in Munich at the court of Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, then in Prague, where he was employed at the court of Emperor Rudolph II. In ...

Article

French, 15th century, male.

Goldsmith. Religious subjects.

Adrien de Tours was paid a sum of 431 pounds and 10 sols in 1492 for the production of a shrine to St Eutrope.

Article

Syrian, 13th century, male.

Metal worker.

Ahmad ibn Umar al Dhaki is thought to have come from Mosul, and had a famous workshop and numerous apprentices. Three leather objects, one in Cleveland Museum, one at the Louvre and one in a private collection in Switzerland, are signed by him and dated between ...

Article

Matthew Woodworth

(b Walsingham, Norfolk; d Ely, Cambs, 1363).

English cleric, architect, and goldsmith. Already an accomplished goldsmith when first recorded as monk of Ely Cathedral in 1314, Walsingham was appointed sub-prior of Ely in 1316, sacrist in 1321, and served as prior from 1341 until his death. As sacrist, Alan of Walsingham was responsible for the building fabric, particularly finances and general repair. He also supervised new construction projects, organized and paid the labour force, and arranged for delivery of materials. During his tenure, Walsingham oversaw the building of a new sacristy (1322–5), the spacious Lady Chapel (1321–49), Prior Crauden’s Chapel (1322–8), guest quarters (1330), and Bishop Hotham’s partly remodelled choir (1338–50). Walsingham’s most ambitious project at Ely was the soaring Octagon and central lantern (1322–49), built to replace the original Romanesque crossing tower after it collapsed in 1322. Surviving Sacrist Rolls hold Alan himself responsible for the Octagon’s design, specifying that he measured out the locations of its eight supports, secured their foundations, and carried the walls up to their full height. Scholarship is divided as to Walsingham’s precise role in the Octagon’s final appearance, but, whether as architect or industrious layman, he brought to completion one of the most innovative and spatially complex structures of the 14th century....

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

Italian, 15th – 16th century, male.

Active in Perugia.

Born 1479 or 1480; died after 1553.

Painter. Religious subjects.

Domenico di Paride was the son of the goldsmith Paride Alfani. He studied with Perugino and was a fellow student of Raphael and Rosso Fiorentino. His son Orazio was his greatest disciple, and for many years a number of his works were attributed to his son....

Article

David A. Hinton

Anglo-Saxon jewel made of gold, rock crystal, and enamel (Oxford, Ashmolean), made in the reign of King Alfred (reg 871–99) and found in Somerset in 1693. The crystal is a teardrop-shaped polished, flat slab, with bevelled sides, set in a gold frame. Below the crystal, there is a cloisonné enamel figure of a seated male figure, apparently holding two flowering plants. Behind the enamel is a gold plate, engraved with a different plant. The frame is soldered to a sheet-gold beast’s head, its jaws holding a short tube with a rivet through the end. Soldered to the head and the sloping-sided frame are plain, beaded, and twisted gold wires, and gold granules. Cut into the frame are openwork Old English letters reading AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWRYCAN (‘Alfred ordered me to be made’).

Although no royal title is in the inscription, the Jewel is usually assumed to have been made for Alfred the Great, King of Wessex (...

Article

Dutch, 16th century, male.

Active in Amsterdam during the first half of the 16th century.

Engraver, goldsmith.

Article

Emma Packer

(b ?London, c. 1470; d ?London, 1532).

English goldsmith. He was the son of a London goldsmith and was the most successful goldsmith working at the Tudor court; his work bridged the transition between the Gothic and the Renaissance styles. He was an official at the Mint from 1504 to almost the end of his life, his appointment possibly facilitated by his marriage to Elizabeth, granddaughter of Sir Hugh Bryce (d 1496), Court Goldsmith to Henry VIII. In 1524 Amadas became the first working goldsmith to become Master of the Jewel House to Henry VIII, an office he retained until 1532, supplying spangles, wire and ribbons to the court. In the 1520s his orders included a large amount of plate for gifts to foreign ambassadors; he also supplied a number of New Year’s gifts for the court. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was one of Amadas’ most important clients, and Amadas supplied him with a number of lavish objects. Other clients included ...