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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

Christopher Holdsworth

(b nr Dijon, 1090; d Clairvaux, Aug 20, 1153; can 1174; fd 20 Aug).

French saint, Cistercian abbot, and writer. He was born into a noble family and spent most of his life at Clairvaux Abbey in southern Champagne. He became its first abbot in 1115, having entered Cîteaux, its mother house, in 1113. The Cistercians became the most successful monastic reform movement of the age. When Bernard died there were about 170 monasteries attached to Clairvaux, nearly half the Order’s total, their spread across Europe reflecting Bernard’s power to attract recruits and patrons. A superb orator and writer, he was involved in attacking heresy, ending a papal schism, and encouraging the Second Crusade.

The only place where Bernard wrote directly (but not extensively) on art and buildings was in his Apologia, addressed to his friend William of Saint-Thierry (c. 1075–1148), a Benedictine, whom he tried to reassure that Cistercian criticisms of other Benedictines were soundly based. Neither the traditional date of ...

Article

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...

Article

Annemarie Weyl Carr

(b Berlin, Aug 11, 1909; d London, Nov 10, 1996).

German scholar of Byzantine, East Christian and European illuminated manuscripts. He took his degree in 1933 at the University of Hamburg in the heady community of the Warburg Library (later Institute) under the tutelage of Erwin Panofsky and Fritz Saxl. Immigrating with the Warburg staff and library to London in 1934, he served from 1940 to 1949 as the Institute’s Librarian and from 1944 to 1965 as Lecturer, Reader and then Professor of Byzantine art at the University of London. In 1965 he came to the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, becoming in 1970 the first Ailsa Mellon Bruce Professor. He retired in 1975 to London, where he died in 1996.

Buchthal is best known for his Miniature Painting in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1957), which laid the foundation for the now well-established art-historical field of Crusader studies. It exemplifies both his originality and the methods that made his scholarship so durable. Fundamental among these were his holistic approach to manuscripts, giving as much attention to ornament, liturgical usage, text traditions, palaeography and apparatus as to miniatures, and his relentlessly keen visual analysis. Aided by a powerful memory, he worked from original monuments, developing exceptional acuity in dissecting the formal components of their images. Mobilized in his dissertation, published in ...

Article

[CESCM]

French organization founded in Poitiers in 1953. The Centre d’études supérieures de civilisation médiévale (CECSM) is affiliated with the Université de Poitiers, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), and the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. The founders, among them historian Edmond-René Labande and art historian René Crozet, began CESCM as a month-long interdisciplinary study of medieval civilization, inviting foreign students to participate. CESCM has since developed into a permanent organization but maintains the international and interdisciplinary focus of its founders.

CESCM continues to hold its formative summer session, known as ‘Les Semaines d’études médiévales’, and invites advanced graduate students of all nationalities. The summer session spans two weeks and includes sessions on a variety of topics, each conducted by a member or affiliate of CESCM. CESCM supports collaborative research groups and regularly holds colloquia attended by the international scholarly community.

Since 1958 CECSM has published ...

Article

Catherine Harding

(b Lomello, Dec 24, 1296; d Avignon, c. 1354).

Italian parish priest, manuscript illuminator and scholar. His drawings explored the connections between vision, reason and spirituality. In particular, he was drawn to the idea of training the ‘inner eye’ of reason, and he hoped that his images would provide tools for spiritual discernment. He worked as a schoolmaster and priest until 1329, when he fled Pavia for political reasons and entered the papal court in Avignon. One year later, he was employed as a scribe in the office of the papal penitentiary.

He produced two illuminated works, both of which are untitled (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, Pal. lat. 1993 and Vat. lat. 6435). The former, known simply as the Palatinus manuscript, encompasses 52 large individual parchment sheets drawn in pen and ink with images on both sides; they feature schematic compositions that combine portolan charts, zodiacs, calendars and human figures, to form complex composite images. The second work, the Vaticanus manuscript, is done in pen and ink on paper and is more of an author’s daybook, collecting thoughts, meditations and images on a variety of topics. His work was not known until the publication of the Palatinus manuscript by R. G. Salomon in ...

Article

(b Rome, Feb 22, 1822; d Castelgandolfo, Sept 20, 1894).

Italian archaeologist. Educated at the Collegio Romano and the university of Rome, he was the founder of the scientific archaeology of early Christianity. Using his extensive knowledge of ancient topography, literary sources, and the researches of the humanists (especially those of Antonio Bosio), he illuminated contemporary understanding of Early Christian life and art in Rome. His earliest excavations were carried out between 1847 and 1850 at the ancient Christian Catacomb of Praetextatus. His researches revealed the extent of the underground galleries at the site as well as the richness of the material remains. He was a formidable epigrapher and in 1861 published the first volume of Inscriptiones christianae urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores, in which he collected, discussed and often depicted the earliest Christian inscriptions from the city of Rome. In 1863 De Rossi founded the Bullettino di archeologia cristiana, which aimed to publish and discuss all aspects of Christian art, archaeology, and history. The following year he produced the first volume of his magisterial ...

Article

A. C. de la Mare

(b Paris, Oct 23, 1889; d Dec 1950)

French historian. He entered the Dominican Order in 1910 and studied at Paris, Rome and Fribourg. Extreme deafness resulting from service in World War I forced him to leave the Order in 1925 and he became a priest in the diocese of Versailles. He was the editor of Bulletin Thomiste 1924–8, and his early studies were on the works of Thomas Aquinas. In the manuscripts of Aquinas he frequently found marginal notes, which he realized related to provisions on the production of texts found in medieval university statutes (see Manuscript, §I). These covered the official examination and approval of exemplars of texts needed for study, which were to be hired out for copying by the university stationers. These official exemplars were divided into small gatherings of peciae (‘pieces’; generally of four leaves), which could be hired out one at a time to professional scribes or students, thus facilitating the multiplication of the texts, since several people could be copying different parts of an exemplar at the same time. Destrez realized that the notes that he had found were made by scribes indicating in their copies the beginning or end of the ...

Article

Olimpia Theodoli

(b Naples, Jan 23, 1812; d Rome, May 6, 1885).

Italian writer and Jesuit priest. Virtually self-taught, he had a vast and profound knowledge of Classical and Oriental languages, biblical history, and theology, which informed his writings on Classical, Christian, and Jewish archaeology. He applied his method of research, based on the study of sources and facts, mainly to Christian iconography and to the topography of catacombs. He made several discoveries, which he shared with other archaeologists and philologists, as his correspondence demonstrates, but he was occasionally critical of some German scholars, especially Theodore Mommsen, at a time when German academics were pre-eminent in this field. His publications number nearly 120, making him one of the most prolific scholars of his time. One of his earlier works was as editor of the Hagioglypta by Joannes Macarius after he had discovered a copy in Paris. After 1858 he began work on his major project, a comprehensive history of Christian art in the first eight centuries; it contained 500 plates illustrating over 2000 works. At the same time, Pope ...

Article

Elisheva Revel-Neher

(b Budapest, 1927; d Paris, 2008).

Art historian and scholar of Jewish and Christian art, active in France. Known as the ‘grande dame’ of Jewish art, Sed-Rajna came to Paris in 1948. She became Director of the Hebraic Section of the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and then taught at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and at the Institut d’Etudes Juives of the Université Libre in Brussels. In 1976 she founded with Bezalel Narkiss the Jerusalem Index of Jewish Art and became President of the European Association for Jewish Studies. She published six pioneering books and numerous articles, scrutinizing the role played by the artistic heritage of the Jewish people.

In all her works the visual expression of the Jewish tradition was envisioned in the larger framework of the history of arts. Her immense knowledge of both texts and images led her to publish in ...

Article

(b Spetsai, Sept 20, 1888; d Athens, Jan 25, 1963).

Greek archaeologist and art historian. Although he originally studied theology, Soteriou devoted his life to Early Christian and Byzantine archaeology, which he studied at the universities of Leipzig, Berlin and Vienna from 1909. He was appointed Inspector General of Byzantine Antiquities at Athens in 1915 and Director of the Byzantine Museum at Athens in 1923. Under his leadership the museum grew into an international centre of Byzantine architectural and archaeological studies.

From 1928 to 1951 he was Professor of Christian archaeology and palaeography at the National Capodistrian University of Athens. He was elected to membership of the Athens Academy in 1926 and held its presidency in 1941; he was also a member of many learned societies both in Greece and abroad. In 1957 he was presented with the prestigious Grand Prix G. Schlumberger for Byzantine studies by the Académie Française.

Soteriou brought to light many previously little- or unknown monuments, as in his excavations (...

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

Gregor M. Lechner

(b Eiglau, Silesia, Aug 21, 1857; d Rome, Feb 13, 1944).

German archaeologist and priest. He studied philosophy and theology at the Jesuit academy in Innsbruck, where he was ordained in 1883. Through the mediation of Cardinal Friedrich Egon von Fürstenberg (1853–92) of Olmütz he made a study trip to Rome in 1884 and became curate at the seminary at the Campo Santo. There he began the independent research into Early Christian art that was to be his life’s work. In 1892 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the theological faculty of Münster University, Westphalia; he was appointed Protonotary Apostolic in 1903 and Dean of Münster University in 1924. From 1926 he taught at the Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana and published frequently in the Römische Quartalschrift edited by A. de Waal. His many other writings include several standard works on Early Christian wall paintings and mosaics in Rome and on Early Christian sarcophagi. Of a more autobiographical nature was his ...