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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.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

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 tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...

Article

Annemarie Weyl Carr

(b Berlin, Aug 11, 1909; d London, Nov 10, 1996).

German scholar of Byzantine, East Christian and European illuminated manuscripts. He took his degree in 1933 at the University of Hamburg in the heady community of the Warburg Library (later Institute) under the tutelage of Erwin Panofsky and Fritz Saxl. Immigrating with the Warburg staff and library to London in 1934, he served from 1940 to 1949 as the Institute’s Librarian and from 1944 to 1965 as Lecturer, Reader and then Professor of Byzantine art at the University of London. In 1965 he came to the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, becoming in 1970 the first Ailsa Mellon Bruce Professor. He retired in 1975 to London, where he died in 1996.

Buchthal is best known for his Miniature Painting in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1957), which laid the foundation for the now well-established art-historical field of Crusader studies. It exemplifies both his originality and the methods that made his scholarship so durable. Fundamental among these were his holistic approach to manuscripts, giving as much attention to ornament, liturgical usage, text traditions, palaeography and apparatus as to miniatures, and his relentlessly keen visual analysis. Aided by a powerful memory, he worked from original monuments, developing exceptional acuity in dissecting the formal components of their images. Mobilized in his dissertation, published in ...

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 ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

L. Glynne Davies

(b Amsterdam, Feb 24, 1897; d London, July 16, 1954).

Dutch archaeologist and cultural historian. After studying at the University of Amsterdam and under Flinders Petrie at University College, London, he directed the Egypt Exploration Society’s excavations at Akhenaten’s city of Amarna, (Tell) el- and elsewhere (1925–9). He was Field Director of the Iraq Expedition of the Oriental Institute of Chicago from 1929 to 1937 and conducted excavations at the Assyrian site of Khorsabad and in the Diyala region; the latter made an important contribution to knowledge of the art of the Sumerians, particularly of their architecture and of the Early Dynastic period (c. 2900–2500 bc). He held professorships at Chicago, Amsterdam and London and was Director of the Warburg Institute from 1949 to 1954. In 1954 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and he was also Corresponding Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

Frankfort was a scholar of immense range, insight and artistic sensibility, with an abiding concern for the interrelations of the cultures of the ancient Aegean, Egypt and Mesopotamia, and he was instrumental in defining a structure for the integrated study of early Near Eastern civilizations. It was characteristic of his approach to see artefacts as works of art that could lead to a deeper understanding of ancient cultures, rather than merely as sources of historical data: his ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Chaumont, Haute-Marne, Jan 21, 1881; d Paris, July 31, 1965).

French archaeologist and art historian, active in Iran. Godard qualified as an architect at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and in 1910 became involved with the urban planning of Baghdad. At this time, he began to develop an interest in the archaeology and art of the Middle East. He visited Egypt and Syria and, in 1923, went to Afghanistan to research Buddhist remains. In 1928 he settled in Iran, where he lived until 1960, except for the years 1953–6. During his years in Iran he directed the College of Fine Arts, Tehran, and the Department of Antiquities, founded the Archaeological (Iran Bastan) Museum and drew up plans for the museums of Mashhad and Abadan. He also initiated the documentation and restoration of many ancient monuments and archaeological remains and gained access to sites previously forbidden to non-Muslims. He published many of the principal monuments of Iran in such learned journals as ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(Emil)

(b Celle, July 23, 1879; d Basle, Jan 21, 1948).

German architect, archaeologist, historian and philologist. He was educated at the universities of Munich and Berlin and at the Technische Hochschule, Charlottenburg, where he trained as an architect. In 1903 he visited the Middle East by participating as field architect in the excavation of Assur by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft. The expedition was led by Friedrich Delitzsch, Herzfeld’s instructor in Assyrian and Arabic, and it enabled him to learn the techniques of excavation and to develop his interest in early Islamic culture. After returning to Germany, he made a journey through Luristan to visit Pasargadae and Persepolis, and following the acceptance of his doctoral thesis on Pasargadae by the University of Berlin in 1907, he travelled with Friedrich Sarre, his lifelong colleague and friend whom he had met in 1905, from Istanbul via Aleppo and Baghdad to the Gulf to find an Islamic site suitable for excavation. The choice fell upon ...

Article

(b Brooklyn, NY, March 10, 1897; d New Haven, CT, Nov 14, 1966).

American theologian, historian, and archaeologist. From 1920 to 1941 he taught theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary and at Yale University, but afterwards he began to shift his attention to archaeology and Middle Eastern studies. He became an authority on the Middle East, teaching for the latter part of his career at the University of Chicago, where he was Professor of Oriental Archaeology. His reputation was firmly established in 1938 with his publication of the results of excavations at Gerasa in Jordan, which was followed by other writings on Hellenistic, Roman, and Early Christian archaeology and Middle Eastern art. In 1946–7 he was Henri Focillon Scholar at the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, Washington, DC, where he was in charge of research and did much to build up the Center’s scholarly programme. In 1955 he directed a symposium there entitled Palestine in the Byzantine Period. His best-known work is the authoritative volume on the synagogue at Dura Europos (...

Article

Charles T. Little

(b Berlin, March 5, 1924; d London, May 19, 2003).

German curator and art historian of medieval art, active also in England. Born in Berlin, Lasko arrived in London in 1937 as a refugee from Nazi Germany. His first teacher was Professor Nikolaus Pevsner at Birkbeck College at the University of London. After continuing his studies at the Courtauld Institute, Lasko was appointed in 1950 as an Assistant Keeper at the British Museum in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities, a post he held until 1965. This position launched his interest in metalwork and ivories, which ultimately matured into his volume for the Pelican History of Art devoted to Ars Sacra: 800–1200. This volume was enriched by his involvement in a number of the Council of Europe exhibitions: Romanesque in Barcelona, European Art around 1400 in Vienna, Byzantine Art in Athens and Charlemagne in Aachen.

In 1965, Lasko became the founding Dean of Fine Arts and Music at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. As a brilliant administrator, he secured the gift of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts designed by Norman Forster. With his long time friend, George Zarnecki, he established the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland. Possessing a ...