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Abacus  

Article

Gordon Campbell

[Gr.: ‘high stone’]

Ancient Greek statue with a wooden body and the head and limbs made of stone (usually marble, sometimes limestone). This technique seems to have come into use in Greece at the end of the 6th century bc or the beginning of the 5th, and was predominantly, but not exclusively, employed for cult statues. The wooden bodies of acrolithic statues were covered in sheets of precious metal or draped with textiles regularly renewed in cult ceremonies. In ancient Greece the term acrolith (usually agalma akrolithos or xoanon akrolithos) was used relatively rarely, and is first attested in temple inventories of the 2nd century bc; Vitruvius uses it in Latin as a synonym for colossal statues. It was then reintroduced as a technical term by 18th-century antiquarians.

While the wooden bodies of ancient acroliths are not preserved, their stone extremities have occasionally survived and can be identified through specific characteristics of their technical manufacture (acrolithic heads, for example, have flat undersides, whereas heads fashioned for insertion into stone bodies were made with convex tenons). In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the extent of stone elements can increase, so that for example the head and naked parts of the chest are made of one marble segment. The appearance of acroliths could be similar to chryselephantine (gold-ivory) statues, to which they may have offered a more cost-effective alternative, although it seems that other considerations, such as their role within the cult ritual, may have been of greater significance. Examples of surviving stone fragments from acroliths are a colossal head in the Ludovisi collection in Rome and an ...

Article

Adyton  

[Gr. ‘not to be entered’; Lat. adytum]

Most sacred inner part of a temple, accessible only to the priests (see Greece, ancient, fig. g).

S. K. Thalman: The Adyton in the Greek Temples of South Italy and Sicily (diss., U. California, Berkeley, 1976) M. B. Hollinshead: ‘"Adyton", "Opisthodomos", and the Inner Room of the Greek Temple’, Hesperia: Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 68/2 (April–June 1999), pp. 189–218...

Article

Stephen Heywood

The extension of the aisles around the sanctuary of a major aisled church to form a passage or walkway. The ambulatory is found throughout western Europe, especially in France, and was particularly popular between the 11th and 13th centuries. It is often provided with radiating chapels that project from its exterior face. Its function was to provide separate access to the radiating chapels and perhaps originally to facilitate the circulation of pilgrims past relics. The ambulatory with radiating chapels was an important innovation of the Romanesque period and is a particularly potent illustration of the style’s preoccupation with the articulation of structure (see Romanesque, §II).

The origins of the ambulatory are found in Carolingian outer crypts (see Crypt). A good example from England is the simple, barrel-vaulted corridor that runs around the apse at All Saints’, Brixworth (Northants), probably built during the 9th century (for illustration ...

Article

Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi and Edward J. Nygren

Although animals have been represented in the art of almost all cultures from prehistoric times, the depiction of animal subjects in painting and the graphic arts became a particularly well-established tradition in Western art following the Renaissance, as European explorers discovered new species, as the demand for illustrated books increased and as the traditional Christian interpretation of the relation between humanity and the rest of creation began to be reappraised. Moreover, while hunting, falconry and similar pursuits continued to provide artists with subjects, animals came to have a more complex relation to society, as curiosities, status symbols or in a domesticated role. Animals continued to occupy an ambiguous role in 19th- and 20th-century Western art, as the subjects of human science, as opportunities to demonstrate technique, and as the instinctive, unrestrained vehicles for a range of Romantic and post-Romantic symbolic possibilities. It is this Western tradition that is discussed in this article; discussion of the depiction of animal subjects in the art of other cultures may be found in the respective regional and cultural surveys....

Article

Philip Ward-Jackson

Term applied particularly to mid-19th-century French sculpture with animal subject-matter. The beginnings of this genre as a significant phenomenon may be located in 1831, when three sculptors, Antoine-Louis Barye, C. Fratin (1801–64) and A. Guionnet (fl 1831–53), all exhibited animal pieces at the Paris Salon. The popularity of such sculpture, and its commercial exploitability through the production of serial bronzes and plasters, induced some sculptors, such as Barye et Cie, to cast and market their own animal statuettes. Antecedents are numerous, but a comparable degree of concentration on animal subjects in sculpture is found only at the end of the 18th century, in the work of the English painter and sculptor George Garrard. Garrard’s animal pieces reflect contemporary concern with ‘improved’ stock-breeding, as well as the involvement with natural history of the encyclopedists. A much publicized debate in 1830 on comparative anatomy, between Etienne Geoffroy de Saint Hilaire and his pupil Georges Cuvier, stimulated widespread interest in zoology, as did the growth of the Paris Jardin des Plantes, where several generations of sculptors studied animals from life. They could observe dissections at the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, where Barye occupied the post of Professor of Zoological Drawing from ...

Article

Anta  

Article

Lowermost portion of an entablature, principally used in Classical architecture, comprising a horizontal beam that spans the columns or piers in the manner of a lintel (see Greece, ancient, fig.b and Orders, architectural, fig.vi). The term was subsequently applied to the moulding around a door or window.

Article

Thorsten Opper

In 1954 a large number of fragments of ancient plaster casts came to light in the Roman city of Baiae on the gulf of Naples. Of a total of 430 fragments, 293 were in a condition that allowed further analysis. This revealed that they originally belonged to a group of 24–35 full-length statues that formed a representative collection of plaster copies of Greek bronze originals (gods, heroes, mythological figures) mainly of the 5th and 4th centuries bc. Twelve of these statues could be identified through comparison with Roman marble copies (e.g. Tyrant Slayers, Ephesian Amazons, Athena Velletri, Westmacott Ephebe, Hera Borghese, Eirene and Ploutos). For others likely identifications have been suggested, but cannot be proven (e.g. Doryphoros). The Baiae plaster statues were technically highly accomplished (hollow-cast figures with internal armatures, probably the first casts produced from high-quality moulds), and are likely to have been imported, perhaps from a place such as Athens, where at least three of the originals were located....

Article

H. B. J. Maginnis

A small painted panel, initially created as a cover for official documents of the civic government of Siena between the 13th and 17th centuries. The Italian word derives from the chief financial office of Siena, the Biccherna, a name that first appears at the beginning of the 13th century; it was supposedly inspired by the imperial treasury of the Blachernae Palace in Constantinople. The term has also been extended to designate painted covers and small panels connected with other Sienese civic offices and institutions, such as the tax office (Gabella), the hospital of S Maria della Scala, the Opera del Duomo and various lay confraternities. Most biccherne, however, are from the office of the Biccherna itself.

The officials of the Biccherna comprised a camarlingo, charged with expenditure on behalf of the Comune, and four provveditori, responsible for revenues and for approving disbursements. All officials were appointed for six-month terms, at the end of which the working accounts were transferred to parchment registers to be presented to the Consiglio Generale of Siena for inspection. Initially these were prepared as two distinct volumes: the ...

Article

Ralph Hyde

Prints, drawings or paintings that incorporate high-level perspective: the viewer has the sensation of looking at the ground from the clouds. Views taken from just above roof-level and map-views—pictorial maps that have a consistent scale—fall outside this category. Bird’s-eye views have also been called ‘aeronautical views’, ‘balloon views’ and ‘aero-views’. The advantage of the high angle is that more detail can be displayed, as the foreground does not obscure the background. This has made the bird’s-eye view the ideal medium for representing battlefields, a purpose for which it was first used in the Classical period (see Rome, ancient, §IV, 1, (iv), (b)). It has also been found useful for depicting proposed urban developments, such as estates, docks and railways, and for landscape garden plans. It has been widely used for depicting palaces and country houses and, in the 19th century, for individual factories, the choice of the bird’s-eye medium being motivated by landlords’ and capitalists’ pride of ownership. Civic pride has contributed to the even more widespread use of the method for depicting towns and cities....

Article

Gordon Campbell

Local name of a blue fluorite (formerly known as fluor-spar) mined near Castleton, Derbys, since the mid-18th century. The name Blue John derives from the French Bleu Jaune (‘blue yellow’). It is a form of fluorite and was discovered as miners were exploring the cave systems of Castleton for lead. Banded Blue John fluorite has long been carved into ornaments in both England and France; its modern industrial uses include toothpaste. ...

Article

Peter Cherry

Term used up to c. 1650 in Spain with reference to genre paintings; in modern Spanish it means still-life (see Still-life, §3). Sebastián de Covarrubias Horozco’s dictionary, Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española (1611), explains that a bodegón was a rough public eating-place where offal was consumed. Some Spanish genre paintings (see Genre) appear to be set in actual bodegones, the most notable being the Tavern Scene (untraced; see Jordan, p. 115) painted in Madrid by Juan van der Hamen y León, probably in 1627. However, by association, the work lent itself to a wide range of genre paintings depicting figures of humble origin, often with food and drink. As early as the 1590s Flemish and Italian kitchen and market scenes were referred to as bodegones in Spanish inventories. Such paintings were imitated by Spanish artists: three ‘bodegones de Italia’ were painted in ...

Article

Bole  

Rupert Featherstone

Fine red clay tinted with iron oxides to a red or yellow colour. When mixed with size, it is used as a base for gilding, since it takes a fine polish when burnished. It was widely employed on panel paintings up to the mid-15th century and is still used for picture ...

Article

Rupert Featherstone

Tool with a hard, smooth, tip, mounted in a wooden handle, used for smoothing or polishing. In water gilding, a burnisher of polished agate is used to smooth the underlying gesso and bole after the gold is applied, giving a highly reflective surface. Burnishers used to burnish ancient pots are depicted in Egyptian wall paintings from the 14th century ...

Article

Jeffrey West

[Ger. Byzantinische Blüthenblatt]

Term used to describe a wide range of ‘floral’ motifs prominent in Western art from the 11th century to the end of the 12th. The German term was first used to describe generically similar motifs that appear in 10th-century Byzantine art, for example in the Hippiatrika Codex (Berlin, Preuss. Staatsbib. Kultbes., cod. Phillipps 1538, fol. 39v). The early 12th-century reference by Theophilus to ‘folia graeca’ may refer to Byzantine ‘leaf-flowers’ although the term is not documented in other sources. The variation of the constituent leaves is common to both Eastern and Western ornaments. Unlike the rosette, the leaves typically rise from the junction of the flower and stem. Their origins may lie in the Classical palmette, although Sasanian ornaments provide the immediate models for the Byzantine flowers. Whereas in Byzantine art the flowers are conservative in form and detail, Western blossoms are characteristically individualized. In the decorated headpieces of Byzantine manuscripts (see above), the flowers occupy the centres and interstitial spaces of series of delicately painted roundels. In both Middle Byzantine metalwork and Western art the flowers are used as the decorative terminals of running scrollwork....

Article

Ursula Härting

Small painting of the type hung in a Kunstkammer—an art collection formed by a connoisseur in northern Europe at the end of the 16th and especially in the 17th century. It can, in addition, refer to painted depictions of these collections.

Encyclopedic collections (Kunstkammern) were popular at the beginning of the 17th century in the southern Netherlands and particularly in Antwerp (see Belgium, Kingdom of, §XIII), although similar types of Kunstkammern also existed in the northern Netherlands, as can be seen from the inventory of Rembrandt’s collection. At the same time, the place accorded to pictures in such private collections in Antwerp increased in importance; paintings clearly formed the bulk of the inventory of the collection of Arnold Lunden, the Antwerp banker and brother-in-law of Peter Paul Rubens, which was drawn up in 176 sections between 1639 and 1649. Besides pictures by all the chief Flemish masters of his time, it included masterpieces of the Antwerp school and works by Italian artists of the 16th and 17th centuries. Antwerp burghers were fully aware of the aristocratic pretensions of such connoisseurship. Besides originals, they collected copies of famous or characteristic works by well-known artists. There was a predominance of painters in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke and the dominance of pupils over masters is probably explained by this demand for copies. During the 17th century there was a great increase in the export of small cabinet paintings from ...

Article

Camaieu  

[Fr. en camaieu: ‘like a cameo’]

Painting with a single colour (monochrome) in two or three tones only; the technique is often employed to give the spectator, the illusion that the image is carved (see also Grisaille).

M. Krieger: Grisaille als Metapher: Zum Entstehen der Peinture en Camaieu im frühen 14. Jahrhundert (Vienna, 1995)...

Article

Cella  

Article

Phillip Lindley

Manager of the royal building works in later medieval England (see also Office of Works). In the 12th century royal building operations were usually initiated by a writ from the king to the sheriff of the county in which work was to be carried out, the sheriff bringing the writs to the Exchequer at Michaelmas as authority for his expenditure. Viewers also attended in order to verify the expenditure. During the 13th century, as financial control was progressively removed from the hands of the sheriff, individuals who supervised specific works as ‘keepers of the works’ (custodes operacionum) became increasingly common. By Henry III’s minority (1216–27), the keepers of major building operations generally submitted their accounts in writing. Under the reform of the Exchequer in 1236–7 a regulation required all works accounts to be audited by means of written accounts, and by the end of Henry’s reign rolls of particular expenses were being presented by sheriffs as well as keepers of works. Each passed account was usually enrolled, in a very condensed form, on the Pipe Roll. Although there is still evidence of major building operations for which no enrolled accounts were ever produced, the rendering of accounts in writing became increasingly common practice, and it was this reliance on the written record that necessitated the employment of paid officials as clerks of the works. In general, this move can be seen as part of the transition from an oral to a written culture. By the 14th century the management of the king’s works was entirely in the hands of professional clerks of the works, and the old title of ‘keepers of the works’ fell into disuse. The organization of the works increasingly tended towards specialization and centralization, with a separation of the administrative and technical sides....