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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

(b Verona, 1433; d Rome, July 1, 1515).

Italian engineer, architect, epigraphist, and scholar. He was much sought after for his technical skills, particularly his expertise in hydraulics and military engineering, while his wide-ranging interests in archaeology, theology, urban planning, and philology earned him the regard of his contemporaries; Vasari described him as ‘un uomo rarissimo ed universale’. He was almost certainly a Franciscan friar, but it is not known where he acquired his architectural training. Given his lifelong and profound study of Classical architecture and inscriptions, Vasari’s assertion that he spent time in Rome as a youth is plausible. One of his earliest endeavours was to compile a collection of Latin inscriptions. The first version (1478–c. 1489), which included drawings and was dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici, became an important and much-copied reference work; it was also a major source for the Corpus inscriptionum latinarum, the principal 19th-century compilation. A fine copy survives (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. Vat. lat. 10228), transcribed by Giocondo’s friend and sometime collaborator, the eminent Paduan calligrapher, ...

Article

Peter Stein

(b Modena, Jan 17, 1624; d Milan, March 6, 1683).

Italian architect, mathematician, astronomer, theorist, writer and priest. Together with Francesco Borromini, he is the most renowned exponent of the anti-classical, anti-Vitruvian trend that dominated Italian architecture after Michelangelo but increasingly lost ground from the late 17th century. His subtly designed buildings, crowned with daring and complex domes, were ignored in Italy outside Piedmont, but illustrations published in 1686 and again in Guarini’s treatise Architettura civile (1737) proved a fruitful source of inspiration in the development of south German and Austrian late Baroque and Rococo architecture.

Guarini came from a deeply religious family; he and his four brothers all joined the Theatine Order. At the age of 15 he became a novice and was sent to Rome (1639–48), where he was able to study High Baroque architecture, in particular the work of Borromini, Gianlorenzo Bernini and Pietro da Cortona. The details of Guarini’s architectural training are not known, but in the excellently equipped libraries of his Order he presumably studied such well-known treatises as those of Serlio and Jacopo Vignola. In ...

Article

(b 1667; d Sønderborg, April 27, 1732).

German architect and administrator, active in Denmark. He was officially attached to the Danish court from 1687 and was sent by King Christian V (reg 1670–99) on a study trip to Italy and France in 1698 to perfect his knowledge of architecture, with the promise of being appointed Director of Works on his return. He was appointed to the position in 1705 and thereby became director of all building activity in Denmark. In 1706 he was appointed Marshal of the Court. During von Platen’s period in office a series of outstanding public buildings was erected in Copenhagen to designs by architects who worked under von Platen, including Johan Conrad Ernst (1666–1750), Ernst Brandenburger (d 1713) and Christoph Marselis (fl 1704–25). It is not possible to determine precisely von Platen’s involvement in these buildings, which are all expressions of the interest of King Frederick IV (...

Article

Richard Bösel

(b Trento, Nov 30, 1642; d Vienna, Aug 31, 1709).

Italian painter, architect and stage designer. He was a brilliant quadratura painter, whose most celebrated works, such as the decoration of the church of S Ignazio in Rome, unite painting, architecture and sculpture in effects of overwhelming illusionism and are among the high-points of Baroque church art. He was a Jesuit lay brother and produced his most significant work for the Society of Jesus. This affiliation was fundamental to his conception of art and to his heightened awareness of the artist’s role as instrumental in proclaiming the faith and stimulating religious fervour. The methods he used were those of Counter-Reformation rhetoric, as represented in Ignatius Loyola’s Spirited Exercises (1548). His architectural works are eclectic, and his unconventional combination of varied sources led to bold experiments with both space and structure. His ideas were spread by his highly successful two-volume treatise, Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum (1693–1700).

He received his first artistic training in Trento, with a painter who appears to have worked in the studio of Palma Giovane. He then studied with an unidentifiable pupil of, among others, Andrea Sacchi, who would have been the first to instruct Pozzo in the art of the Roman High Baroque, and he followed this painter to Como and Milan. In Milan Pozzo joined the Society of Jesus on ...