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....
British, 20th century, male.
Born 13 November 1914, in Fulham, London; died 12 June 2000, in Aberdeen.
Painter, lithographer, wood engraver, poet. Still-lifes, landscapes, portraits.
Leonard Appelbee studied under Clive Gardiner at Goldsmiths College from 1931 to 1934, and under Barnett Freedman at the Royal College of Art ...
(b Isleworth, Middx, May 17, 1863; d Godden Green, Kent, May 23, 1942).
English designer, writer, architect and social reformer . He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge. As a young man he was deeply influenced by the teachings of John Ruskin and William Morris, and particularly by their vision of creative workmanship in the Middle Ages; such a vision made work in modern times seem like mechanical drudgery. Ashbee played many parts and might be thought a dilettante; but his purpose was always to give a practical expression to what he had learnt from Ruskin and Morris. An intense and rather isolated figure, he found security in a life dedicated to making the world a better place.
In 1888, while he was training to be an architect in the office of G. F. Bodley and Thomas Garner (1839–1906), Ashbee set up the Guild and School of Handicraft in the East End of London. The School lasted only until 1895, but the Guild, a craft workshop that combined the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement with a romantic, apolitical socialism, was to be the focus of Ashbee’s work for the next 20 years. There were five guildsmen at first, making furniture and base metalwork. In ...
Swiss, 19th – 20th century, male.
Active in Germany.
Born 31 December 1849, in St Gall; died 1921, in Planegg.
Architect, painter, decorative designer, theorist. Designs (furniture/fabrics/metal objects/ceramics).
From 1868 to 1871 Hans Eduard von Berlepsch-Valendas was a student of architecture with Gottfried Sempers in Zurich. After graduating he abandoned architecture while he was living in Frankfurt, to go and train as a painter in Munich (...
(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).
Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....
Erich G. Ranfft
(b Perleberg-Brandenburg, June 29, 1871; d Berlin, Jan 2, 1938).
German medallist, sculptor and writer. He trained in medal arts and sculpture at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Frankfurt am Main (1891–7) and in Paris (1897–9) at the Académie Julian. He dedicated himself to making medals and assimilated the naturalistic and Impressionist styles current in French art, as in his baptismal medal Let the Child Come to Me (1898–9; Frankfurt am Main, Mus. Ksthandwk). In 1899 Bosselt began to gain considerable public recognition in Germany for his medals, which after 1901 became more stylized and decorative. By 1905 he had produced a large body of work, including medals and several plaques of, mainly commissioned, portraits and exhibition notices. In addition, he promoted the revival of medal arts in Germany through his published writings. He was also widely known as a gifted Jugendstil craftsman as a result of his stay from 1899 to 1903 at the Künstler-Kolonie in Darmstadt, where he developed a close friendship with fellow worker Peter Behrens. Bosselt’s output in Darmstadt consisted of jewellery and domestic items of decorative metalwork, which feature sculpted bronze figurines (e.g. table lamp, ...
(b Florence, Nov 3, 1500; d Florence, Feb 13, 1571).
Italian goldsmith, medallist, sculptor and writer. He was one of the foremost Italian Mannerist artists of the 16th century, working in Rome for successive popes, in France for Francis I and in Florence for Cosimo I de’ Medici. Among his most famous works are the elaborate gold figural salt made for Francis I (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.; see fig. below) and the bronze statue of Perseus (Florence, Loggia Lanzi). His Vita is among the most compelling autobiographies written by an artist and is generally considered to be an important work of Italian literature.
Cellini came from a middle-class Florentine family. His grandfather Andrea was a mason and his father Giovanni Cellini (1451–1528), who married Elisabetta Granacci in 1480, was a well-educated and expert carpenter who built the scaffolding put up to allow Leonardo da Vinci to paint the Battle of Anghiari (destr.) and who was a member of the committee responsible for choosing the site for Michelangelo’s statue of ...
(fl 1670; d Jan 30, 1707).
Polish goldsmith, engraver and writer. He produced engraved frontispieces for J. Liberius’s book The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Sea Star (1670) and his own work St Elegius’s Life … (1687). He is noted in the guild records from 1689. Few of his silver pieces have been identified, as he did not use name marks. The impressive monstrance in St Mary’s church in Kraków is attributed to him. Works that are certainly by him include the ‘robes’ on the painting of the Holy Virgin in the Dominican church in Kraków and the small plate from the tabernacle in St Anne’s, Kraków. Ceypler’s most important work is an octagonal reliquary for the head of St Jan Kanty (1695; Kraków, St Anne), signed in Latin. It was designed by King John III’s court painter, Jerzy Eleuter Szymonowicz-Siemiginowski (c. 1660–1711), and was executed by Ceypler with the help of his pupil, ...
French, 19th – 20th century, male.
Born 1867, in Annecy; died after 1926.
Painter, watercolourist, engraver, medallist, illustrator, art writer. Portraits, scenes with figures.
André Charles Coppier exhibited in Paris at the Salon des Artistes Français and at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, of which he was a member. He was awarded silver at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in ...
Anna Szinyei Merse
(b Nagyenyed [now Aiud, Romania], Feb 6, 1895; d Budapest, Feb 22, 1944).
Hungarian painter, printmaker and writer. After a difficult childhood and military service during World War I, he learnt silversmithing and drawing in Dés (now Dej, Romania). From 1921 he worked in a factory in Budapest. He studied drawing in the evenings at the School of Applied Arts, then at the Free School of Artur Podolni-Volkmann (1891–1943), Budapest. Between 1924 and 1927 he worked in Milan, where he visited the museums and learnt etching, later exhibiting in Florence. As a socialist he considered art to be part of the ideological struggle. His first committed work, Fourth Order, is a series of linocuts produced soon after his return home and showing the impact of Frans Masereel. In 1928 Dési Huber held a small exhibition, and he subsequently joined the left-wing artists’ group, KÚT (Képzőművészek Új Társasága: New Society of Fine Artists), which was active from 1924 to 1949. He perfected his techniques and studied art theory, but he never gave up his money-earning activity as a factory hand....
Francesco Paolo Fiore and Pietro C. Marani
(Pollaiolo) [Francesco di Giorgio]
(b Siena, bapt Sept 23, 1439; d Siena, bur Nov 29, 1501).
Italian architect, engineer, painter, illuminator, sculptor, medallist, theorist and writer. He was the most outstanding artistic personality from Siena in the second half of the 15th century. His activities as a diplomat led to his employment at the courts of Naples, Milan and Urbino, as well as in Siena, and while most of his paintings and miniatures date from before 1475, by the 1480s and 1490s he was among the leading architects in Italy. He was particularly renowned for his work as a military architect, notably for his involvement in the development of the Bastion, which formed the basis of post-medieval fortifications (see Military architecture & fortification, §III, 2(ii) and 4(ii)). His subsequent palace and church architecture was influential in spreading the Urbino style, which he renewed with reference to the architecture of Leon Battista Alberti but giving emphasis to the purism of smooth surfaces. His theoretical works, which include the first important Western writings on military engineering, were not published until modern times but were keenly studied in manuscript, by Leonardo da Vinci among others; they foreshadowed a number of developments that came to fruition in the 16th century (...
(b Glasgow, July 4, 1834; d Mulhouse, Alsace, Nov 24, 1904).
Scottish designer, Botanist and writer. He trained at the Government School of Design, Somerset House, London, between 1847 and 1854, during which time he was strongly influenced by the design reform efforts of Henry Cole, Richard Redgrave and Owen Jones. In 1854 he began to lecture at the school on botany and in 1856 supplied a plate illustrating the ‘geometrical arrangement of flowers’ for Jones’s Grammar of Ornament. In 1857 he presented a series of lectures at the Royal Institution entitled ‘On the Relationship of Science to Ornamental Art’, which he followed up in a series of 11 articles in the Art Journal (1857–8) on the similar subject of ‘Botany as Adapted to the Arts and Art-Manufacture’. His first three books were on botanical subjects, and in 1860 he was awarded a doctorate by the University of Jena for his research in this area.
Following the International Exhibition of ...
D. A. Bullough
German patron, writer, and possibly metalworker. He married Emma, sister of Bernharius, Bishop of Worms, and they possibly had a son, Hussin. He received his early education at Fulda Abbey, where he wrote documents between 788 and 791, although he was not ordained or professed as a monk. He then moved to the court at Aachen, which had recently been established, to continue his studies under Alcuin (c. 735–804) and others. His most notable product was the Life of his patron Charlemagne, written in the late 820s. It was after Charlemagne had died that his son Louis the Pious elevated Einhard to the post of private secretary. It was in this post and under Louis’s patronage that he wrote the Vita Karoli Magni, which is still one of the principal sources for much of our knowledge of Charlemagne. Contemporaries recorded his small stature and lively conduct, and his nickname Be(se)leel, after Bezaleel, the worker in precious metals in Exodus 31:2–5....
German, 20th century, male.
Active in England.
Born 2 December 1877, in Dortmund; died 10 January 1960, in London.
Sculptor, medallist, painter, draughtsman, writer. Portraits. Busts, medallions, monuments.
Benno Elkan was the son of a tailor who had been given Jewish religious instruction. He initially began training for a career in business, but gave it up to study painting in Munich. He studied with Walter Thor and Johann Caspar Herterich, the director of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, and later with Nicolas Gysis. Later, he worked with Friedrich Fehr at the Karlsruhe academy in ...
(b Paris, Sept 29, 1816; d Valmondois, Val-d’Oise, Aug 25, 1892).
French goldsmith, sculptor and museum curator. He studied in Paris, first at the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin and from 1831 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he was a pupil of David d’Angers and James Pradier. He worked principally as a goldsmith until 1848 but then devoted himself to the study of medieval sculpture. Throughout his career he collaborated on the restoration of many important Gothic buildings in France, notably with Emile Boeswillwald on Laon Cathedral, with Victor-Marie-Charles Ruprich-Robert on Bayeux Cathedral and with Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc on the Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame in Paris. At the Sainte-Chapelle he was responsible for the 12 stone statues of the Apostles at the base of the spire (in situ); from 1848 to 1864 he ran the sculpture studio at Notre-Dame, where among many other works in an elegant neo-Gothic style he executed 12 copper statues of the Apostles for the base of the spire (...
Annie Scottez-De Wambrechies
(b Aix-en-Provence, Aug 17, 1739; d Aix-en-Provence, Dec 23, 1813).
French painter, draughtsman, sculptor, medallist and writer. He first trained under Claude Arnulphy at Aix, leaving for Rome c. 1761. He remained in Italy for ten years, studying the works of Raphael and other Old Masters (see fig.) as well as Polidoro da Caravaggio, whose monochrome frescoes Gibelin later imitated in France. In 1768 he won a prize at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Parma, with his Achilles Fighting the River Scamander (in situ; preparatory drawing in Stockholm, Nmus.). On his return to Paris in 1771 he was commissioned to execute a large number of monochrome frescoes as well as two paintings, The Blood-letting (1777; preparatory drawing at Poitiers, Mus. B.-A.) and Childbirth, for the new Ecole de Chirurgie, now the Faculté de Médecine (in situ). His works made over the next few years include the Genius of War and Mars for the pediments of the two south wings of the ...
(b Aix-en-Provence, June 21, 1752; d Bouleau, Seine-et-Marne, Feb 13, 1830).
French sculptor and writer. He worked for a goldsmith in Paris before devoting himself to sculpture, in which he was self-taught. Thanks to an allowance from an uncle who had adopted him, he was able to study sculpture in Italy in the early 1780s; there he struck up a friendship with Jacques-Louis David. On his return he was approved (agréé) by the Académie Royale in Paris in 1788, and was received (reçu) as a member in the following year. On coming into a fortune, he returned in 1790 to Italy, where he lived until 1793, chiefly in Florence, Rome and Naples. He brought back with him what was the richest collection in France of plaster casts after antique sculpture, which he exhibited to the public at his house in the Place Vendôme, Paris. When, in 1796, Napoleon plundered some of the best-known antique sculptures of Rome, Giraud protested about their removal....
(b Łany, nr Warsaw, Jan 14, 1904, d Warsaw, March 21, 1958).
Polish painter, illustrator, metalworker, designer and writer. From 1924 to 1929 he studied at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, where he was later an assistant professor (1927–30, 1933–5). From 1929 to 1930 he studied in France. He exhibited his works from 1928 until his death. At the beginning of his career he concentrated on painting, to which he later returned. He became a popular cartoon artist while working for the satirical weekly Szpilki from 1935 to 1939 and from 1946 to 1958. His illustrations to the works of N. V. Gogol and Fyodor Dostoyevsky were highly acclaimed. Grunwald mastered various techniques in metalworking, until 1939 concentrating on jewellery and promoting abstract forms; he also made lighting equipment, particularly lamps, sconces and chandeliers. During this period he introduced avant-garde features into traditional Polish metalwork. In the post-war period he accepted commissions for monumental works, for example gates, screens, mantelpiece designs and lighting units. In Warsaw he designed the decorative elements for the ...
M. J. C. Otten
(bapt Amsterdam, Sept 10, 1645; bur Haarlem, June 15, 1708).
Dutch etcher, draughtsman, painter, sculptor, medallist and writer. He is best known for his political caricatures of Louis XIV of France and for his prints glorifying William III, Stadholder of the Netherlands and King of England. De Hooghe is an important representative of the late Dutch Baroque. His style is characterized by strong contrasts of lights and darks and an expressive composition. In his prints he combined contemporary personalities with allegorical figures. His prints are numerous, but few of his drawings survive and his paintings are rarer still. De Hooghe’s first commission for an etching probably came from Constantijn Huygens the elder, secretary to William III; this was Zeestraet (1667; Hollstein, no. 287). In 1668 de Hooghe was in Paris, where he produced some book illustrations, but he returned to Amsterdam, where from 1670 to 1691 he illustrated the annual newsheet Hollandsche Mercurius. He regularly produced such political prints as ...
(Paul Louis) [Saint-Georges]
(b Namur, Dec 30, 1873; d Woluwé Saint-Lambert, Brussels, Feb 22, 1957).
Belgian sculptor, medallist and critic. After secondary education with the Jesuits at Namur and Brussels, he studied law at the Université Catholique in Leuven. He later enrolled at the Institut Saint-Luc in Brussels and then from 1899 to 1903 studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels under Julien Dillens. He also frequented the studio of Constantin Meunier. Both exercised a considerable influence on his work, and in addition he benefited from the advice of Thomas Vinçotte. From 1908 to 1910 he wrote art criticism for the Brussels newspaper Le Patriote under the pseudonym Saint-Georges. As a medallist he produced portraits, commemorative and religious medals. Among his best-known sculptures are Queen Astrid at the Collège Saint Jean-Berchmans in Brussels and the statue of Justus Lipsius (h. 2.90 m), which stands in the square of the same name in Leuven. Between 1922 and 1930 he created several patriotic monuments in Belgium, including those at Walcourt, Rochefort and Casteau....