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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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Molly Dorkin

Place where works of art are displayed. In a commercial gallery, works of art are displayed for the purposes of sale (for information on non-commercial art galleries see Display of art and Museum, §I). Historically, artworks were commissioned by patrons directly from an artist and produced in his workshop. In the Netherlands, the economic boom following the conclusion of the Eighty Years’ War with Spain (1648) led to rising demand for art. Patrons began buying from dealers, some of whom produced illustrated catalogues. Antwerp became the centre of the art world. Galleries for the display and viewing of art appeared in paintings by Teniers family, §2 and Bruegel family, §3, although these were private not commercial spaces, or imaginary constructions.

The Paris Salon, which had been organized by the Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture since 1667, was opened to the public for the first time in ...


Oscar P. Fitzgerald

Technique for imitating Asian Lacquer. Once Dutch and Portuguese traders imported lacquer ware from the Far East after 1700, Europeans became fascinated by this technique. Originating in ancient China, it spread to Japan where it is still practiced in the 21st century. The process involved the application of up to a hundred coats of lacquer produced from the sap of the Rhus vernicifera tree, native to China, Malaya, and Japan. Despite attempts to discover the secret, Europeans could not duplicate the process. Since the sap quickly congeals it did not travel well and was toxic like poison ivy.

In 1688 A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing by John Stalker and George Parker explained how to imitate the process by applying shellac dissolved in alcohol over a gessoed surface (see Stalker and Parker). Black was the most common color but red, white, blue, green, yellow, olive brown, and imitation tortoise shell (black streaked with vermillion) were also known. After designs were drawn on the surface, a mixture of red clay or sawdust, whiting, and gum arabic was daubed into the outlines and the raised images were sculpted with engraving tools and then colored with metal dust. A variation called ...


Name given to the 76 specially commissioned devotional paintings given, one each May, from 1630 to 1708 by the goldsmiths’ corporation of Paris to the cathedral of Notre-Dame (none was commissioned in 1683 or 1684). The paintings were approximately 3.50×2.75 m in size and usually drew their subjects from the Acts of the Apostles. The commissions were awarded to established artists or, occasionally, to younger painters, indicating their rising reputation. Until the ‘Mays’ were dispersed during the French Revolution they were hung on the arcades of the choir and nave of the cathedral. A number are untraced, but eight have been returned to the side chapels of Notre-Dame, including works by Jacques Blanchard (Descent of the Holy Ghost, 1634); Sébastien Bourdon (Crucifixion of St Peter, 1634) and Charles Le Brun (Stoning of St Stephen, 1651). Another eleven, including Bon Boullogne’s Jesus Healing the Sick...