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Artistic manifestations of Arthurian legends antedate surviving textual traditions and sometimes bear witness to stories that have not survived in written form. Thus the Tristan sculptures (c. 1102–17) carved on a column from the north transept of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela show that the story was in circulation at least a generation before the earliest surviving written text was composed. The one surviving manuscript of Béroul’s Tristan is unillustrated, while the fragments of Thomas’s version include a single historiated initial showing Tristan playing the harp (Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Fr. d. 16, fol. 10). Although Eilhart von Oberge’s Tristrant, composed in the late 12th century, is the earliest version of the Tristan story to survive complete, the only surviving illustrated copy dates from the 15th century (c. 1465–75; Heidelberg, UBib., Cpg 346), while the Munich manuscript of Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan was made in south Germany ...

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

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

Italian, 16th century, male.

Born c. 1509, in Colonnata, near Carrara; died 1573, in Padua.

Sculptor, poet.

Florentine School.

Danese Cattaneo was a pupil of Jacopo Sansovino in Rome, and later went to join his master in Venice, where he produced a series of works over the course of his career. The most notable of these were in the church of S Salvatore, and in the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo (the tomb of the Doge Leon Loredano). He also worked in Verona and Padua on a number of occasions....

Article

Flemish School, 16th century, male.

Born 14 August 1502, in Aelst, or 4 July 1507 according to other sources; died 1550, in Brussels.

Painter, sculptor, architect, draughtsman, writer. Designs for tapestries.

Brussels School.

A pupil of Barent van Orley in Brussels from 1517 to 1521, he went to Italy in about 1521 and became a Master of the Antwerp Guild in 1527. He had two sons, Pieter and Michel, and when widowed, two illegitimate sons, Pauweel and Antoon. He later married the miniaturist Maria Verhulst, by whom he had three children, Pauwel, Katelyne and Maria - this latter married Pieter Bruegel the Elder. He travelled to Constantinople in 1533 to make cartoons of tapestries for the Sultan, but since the representation of human beings and animals was forbidden by Islam the journey came to nothing. It has been suggested that he went to discover the secrets of making oriental carpets, but he returned with studies of type, costumes and a book, ...

Article

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...

Article

(b Stuttgart, Feb 2, 1789; d Hassfurt, Sept 28, 1865).

German architect, painter, sculptor, printmaker and writer. He belonged to a large family of artists descended from Franz Joseph (Ignatz Anton) Heideloff (1676–1772), who was a sculptor and possibly also a painter. He was trained by the architect Nikolaus Friedrich von Thouret, the sculptor Johann Heinrich von Dannecker and the painter Johann Baptist Seele. He also studied mural painting as assistant to his father, Victor (Wilhelm Peter) Heideloff (1757–1817). As a young man he became interested in Gothic and Romanesque architecture, and while he was in Mainz in 1814 he made the acquaintance of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (reg 1826–44), who employed him as his architect until 1821. In 1822, having settled in Nuremberg, he was appointed curator of the city’s historical monuments; he used this position to encourage widespread interest in early German art and to rescue many examples from destruction. He also taught at the local Polytechnische Schule from its foundation in ...

Article

Flemish School, 16th century, male.

Born 1532, in Bruges; died 1599, in Liège.

Painter, sculptor, poet.

Liège School.

Dominicus Lampsonius accompanied Cardinal Reginald Pole on visits to Italy and England. After the death of the cardinal, he returned to Liège in 1558, and worked on paintings with Lambert Lombard. He entered the guild in ...

Article

Lon R. Shelby

(b c. 1460; d after 1516).

German architect, sculptor, and military engineer.

On 23 June 1489 the Milan City Council rejected a recommendation from Simon Brunus, German, that ‘Master Laurentius, engineer’ should come to Milan for the task of completing the tiburium (?ciborium, baldacchino) for the cathedral. It has generally been thought that this letter referred to Lorenz Lechler, for on 25 August 1489 the City Council of Esslingen (near Stuttgart) also recommended Lechler to the Milanese for the completion of their cathedral. Lechler had constructed the sacrament house and choir-screen for St Dionysius, Esslingen, and he was commended to the Milanese for his ‘ingenuity, industry, and art’.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Lechler may have been involved with the construction of the sacrament house and choir-screen at Speyer Cathedral in the late 1490s. In 1509 he was called back to Speyer to supervise the completion of the Mount of Olives located just outside and south of the cathedral nave, which had been begun by ...

Article

Alison Stones

Legends and myths in medieval art are often symbolic rather than narrative, appearing as isolated representations on monuments and portable objects and following the tradition of Greek vase painting where individual subjects are depicted and rely on prior knowledge of the stories for recognition and understanding. World histories celebrated great heroes of the past, starting with Creation and biblical history, then the ancient and medieval world with the exploits of the Trojan heroes, Alexander the Great, King Arthur and the campaigns of Charlemagne and his nephew Roland. Northern gods such as Thor were depicted in cult statues (c. 1000; Reykjavík, N. Mus.) or through such ornamental hammers as those from north Jutland in the Copenhagen Nationalmuseum, and Freya, head of the Valkyries, was painted riding a cat on the walls of Schleswig Cathedral.

The Fall of Troy is most celebrated in the early 13th-century copy of Heinrich von Veldecke’s ...

Article

Italian, 16th century, male.

Born 6 March 1475, in Caprese, near Arezzo; died 18 February 1564, in Rome.

Painter, draughtsman, sculptor, architect, engineer, poet. Religious subjects, mythological subjects, nudes, portraits.

At the time of Michelangelo’s birth, his father, Ludovico, son of Leonardo Buonarroti Simoni, was resident magistrate for the Republic of Florence in the small, fortified town of Caprese, but soon after the family returned to Florence. Michelangelo lost his mother when he was six years old, and the family’s financial situation was poor, though previous generations of Buonarroti had been rich and powerful and among the ‘priori’, or governing councillors, of Florence. Michelangelo’s father would therefore have preferred a business career for his son, but Michelangelo was encouraged by his friend Francesco Granacci in his artistic ambitions. He prevailed over his father, and on 1 April 1488, at the age of 13, he joined the large workshop of the painters Domenico and Davide Ghirlandaio. His apprenticeship agreement bound him to them for three years....

Article

Walter Geis

(b Andernach, April 15, 1823; d Cologne, Sept 13, 1888).

German sculptor, writer, designer, collector, dealer and furniture-restorer. From 1846 to 1871 he made gothicizing sculptures for Cologne Cathedral: for example figures of evangelists, martyrs and angels and figured reliefs (limestone; south transept, portals and buttresses). He also produced sculpture in period styles for castles, public buildings and private houses, for example 36 limestone statues of German emperors (1882–7; Aachen, Rathaus). The balanced form of his blocklike standing figures shows the influence of classical sculpture, and their generally pensive expression may be traced to the influence of the Lukasbrüder (see Nazarenes). With the help of costumes, Mohr adapted sculpted figures to the style of architecture, but in general his work after 1860 is characterized by massiveness, broad surfaces and an expression of pathos.

Mohr’s later work suggests an admiration for Michelangelo and for the monumental sculpture of Mohr’s contemporaries Ernst Rietschel and Johannes Schilling. The sculptures Mohr made between ...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Albanian, 15th century, male.

Active at the end of the 15th century.

Poet, painter, sculptor.

Murad Toptani was the first artist to sculpt a bust of Skanderberg, an Albanian nationalist hero.

Article

Italian, 16th century, male.

Active in Pavia c. 1572.

Born in Como.

Sculptor, writer.