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Term applied to a drawn or painted representation of the human figure, most commonly made as part of the instruction in an academy or art school. Although the practice of making drawings from nude models had developed during the Renaissance and was commended by such theorists as Alberti, it was only with the foundation of academies of painting in the 17th century that such drawing became formalized as part of a rigorous programme of training. Indeed, by the mid-18th century, the word ‘académie’ was defined in Diderot’s ...

Article

Kenneth B. Roberts

Depictions of the structure of the human body as shown by dissection. The study of anatomy (Gk.: ‘cutting apart’) has informed and stimulated European artists since the Renaissance and has also led to many remarkable feats of illustration.

Anatomy was being practised at Alexandria c....

Article

Cartoon  

Shirley Millidge

Drawing, sometimes coloured, made specifically as a pattern for a painting, textile or stained-glass panel. It is produced on the same scale as the final work and is usually fairly detailed. The transfer of the image works best if the drawing in the cartoon is of a linear nature and if the composition has crisp, clear outlines....

Article

Claire Pace

Controversy that developed in Italy in the 16th century over the relative merits of design or drawing (It. disegno) and colour (colore). It was fundamentally a debate over whether the value of a painting lay in the idea originating in the artist’s mind (the ...

Article

Elizabeth Allen

Independent specialist in the painting of draperies, usually employed by a portrait painter with a large portrait practice; to be distinguished from assistants who were members of a workshop or studio. In the traditional Renaissance workshop an established master undertook the comprehensive training of apprentices and equipped them with all the skills necessary for an independent artist. The emergence of specialist drapery painters was a consequence of the breakdown of the apprenticeship system. An increasing dependence on technical manuals suggests that this occurred in Holland after ...

Article

Fresco  

Gianluigi Colalucci

Wall painting technique in which pigments are dissolved in water only and then applied to fresh, wet lime plaster (the intonaco). As the wall dries, the calcium hydroxide of the plaster combines with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to form calcium carbonate. During this process the pigments become an integral part of the wall, forming a fine, transparent, vitreous layer on its surface. Fresco is particularly vulnerable to damp and for this reason is suitable only for dry climates. This article discusses the technique as systematized in ...

Article

Rupert Featherstone

Term for the addition of white or a pale tone on top of a darker tone or background colour to complete the depiction of form in a painting or drawing. During the Renaissance an application of lead white in an aqueous medium was used, for instance, to heighten drawings in metalpoint on tinted paper; this lead white often oxidizes, negating the original function of the heightening, but the process is reversible through conservation....

Article

Martin Postle

Person subjecting his or her body to an artist’s observation. A tradition of working from living models, begun in Classical times, was revived in Europe in the Renaissance and was an important feature of academic practice until the 20th century.

The model, in the academic sense, was from its inception until the 19th century synonymous with the male figure. The earliest recorded reference to artists’ models comes from ...

Article

Obelisk  

Erik Iversen

Square or rectangular shaft, usually monolithic, with tapering sides and a pyramidal apex, first developed in Egypt in the 3rd millennium bc but also popular in Europe in Roman times, the Renaissance and the 19th century.

The Egyptian name for the obelisk was tekhen, from a verb meaning ‘pierce’, while its apex, clearly considered as a distinct part, was known as ...

Article

Catherine Hassall

Method of painting using pigments dispersed in oil. It is not known how oil painting was first developed, but in Western Europe there are indications of its use from at least the 12th century ad, and it was widely used from the Renaissance. This article discusses the characteristics and development of oil painting in Western Europe (for its use elsewhere see under relevant country surveys)....

Article

Claire Farago

Term used to refer specifically to the rivalry of the arts of painting and sculpture. In 1817 in Manzi’s edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattato della pittura the word appeared as the title to Leonardo’s witty defence of painting against the arts of poetry, music and sculpture, although it had not had this association before. Polemical comparisons of the arts are widely documented in 16th-century sources, yet a comprehensive work on the subject has never been attempted....

Article

Term for the main floor in a Renaissance or Baroque palazzo, on which the prestige apartments are located. It is generally one storey above ground-level and is distinguished externally by taller fenestration and greater decorative detail.

Article

Portico  

Richard Riddell

Term used in Western architecture for a covered area before the entrance to a building, of grander proportions than a simple porch and usually forming the central element in the façade. Porticoed buildings from the Renaissance onwards typically allude to the forms of Classical architecture, and the portico itself, open to the elements on one or three sides, has the appearance of a temple entrance, often with a triangular ...

Article

Carmen Bambach Cappel

Transfer process in which powder or dust is rubbed through a pricked design, creating a dotted underdrawing on the surface beneath. Though primarily known as an Italian Renaissance technique for translating designs from a Cartoon to the moist plaster in Fresco painting, pouncing had a wide application in the work of artists, craftsmen and amateurs. Draughtsmen, easel painters, illuminators, embroiderers, lacemakers, ceramicists, printmakers and writing-masters used pouncing to duplicate their designs. The drawing to be reproduced was placed over the working surface (paper, cloth, wall or panel), and the outlines of the design were pricked with a pointed implement such as a needle or stylus and rubbed with pounce (powder or dust of black chalk, charcoal or pumice if the support was light; of white chalk, gesso or light pumice powder if the support was dark) contained in a pouncing bag (a small cloth pouch with its end tied). The advantages of pouncing compensated for the laboriousness of the task: precise correspondence between drawing and final work was assured; a painter could delegate the task to an assistant; and once a drawing was pricked it could be reused to repeat designs or, by pouncing the verso, to create symmetrical patterns and complementary figures. ...

Article

Art form developed in Renaissance Italy. It refers to a drawing created as a finished work of art, rather than as a stage in the preparation or development of a work in another medium. The term was invented by Johannes Wilde to describe certain specific works by ...

Article

Term applied to stonework that resembles large, deeply chamfered blocks, often with a deliberately rough surface effect. It was employed especially on Italian Renaissance palazzi (see Masonry, §II; for illustration see Palazzo).

Article

Nigel Gauk-Roger

Term applied to a type of religious painting, depicting the Virgin and Child flanked on either side by saints, which developed during the 15th and 16th centuries and is associated primarily with the Italian Renaissance. The specific characteristics of the genre are that the figures, who are of comparable physical dimensions, seem to co-exist within the same space and light, are aware of each other and share a common emotion. This relationship is conveyed, with greater or lesser emphasis, by gesture and expression. The compositions are usually frontal and centralized, and are distinguished by an aura of stillness and meditation....

Article

Barbara Kahle

Garden hall or room situated on the ground floor of a palace or mansion, beneath the principal room of the corps de logis, serving as a connecting link between the vestibule and the garden. It is a creation of the German Baroque, influenced mainly by Italian forms and dependent on features of garden design common since antiquity (e.g. grottoes, nymphs and theatres). German precursors of the ...

Article

Ellen Callmann

Term applied to Tuscan 15th- and early 16th-century painted wall panels. Originally the term denoted panels that were set into the wall panelling at head or shoulder height above the backrest of a piece of furniture. It was later extended to include panel paintings set into the wall and was an integral part of the wainscoting. With few exceptions, ...

Article

Janis Callen Bell

Term of modern origin deriving from tenebroso (It. and Sp.: ‘dark’), used to describe a style of 17th-century painting characterized by much dark shadow and few light areas. The concept developed from the study of Chiaroscuro, in which Renaissance writers, paraphrasing optical texts, distinguished shadow (...