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Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Florence, before March 12, 1446; d Lucca, 1496).

Italian painter and illuminator. He was a Camaldolite monk; his appointment, from 1470, as Abbot of Agnano, Arezzo, and Val di Castro, Fabriano, was disputed, since he never resided at either abbey. His work is known from a signed triptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (1460–67) in SS Martino e Bartolomeo at Tifi, Arezzo (in situ). It shows the influence of the most fashionable Florentine artists of the time, such as Neri di Bicci, and such artists from the Marches as Giovanni Boccati and Gerolamo di Giovanni da Camerino. The most noteworthy aspect of the altarpiece, however, is its chromatic quality. This undoubtedly derives from the work of Piero della Francesca and has made it possible to identify Amedei as the collaborator to whom Piero entrusted the small predella scenes and pilaster figures of the polyptych of the Misericordia (Sansepolcro, Pin.), a work that can be dated by the final payments made in ...

Article

William Hood

[Fra Giovanni da Fiesole; Guido di Piero da Mugello]

(b nr Vicchio, c. 1395–1400; d Rome, Feb 18, 1455).

Italian painter, illuminator and Dominican friar. He rose from obscure beginnings as a journeyman illuminator to the renown of an artist whose last major commissions were monumental fresco cycles in St Peter’s and the Vatican Palace, Rome. He reached maturity in the early 1430s, a watershed in the history of Florentine art. None of the masters who had broken new ground with naturalistic painting in the 1420s was still in Florence by the end of that decade. The way was open for a new generation of painters, and Fra Angelico was the dominant figure among several who became prominent at that time, including Paolo Uccello, Fra Filippo Lippi and Andrea del Castagno. By the early 1430s Fra Angelico was operating the largest and most prestigious workshop in Florence. His paintings offered alternatives to the traditional polyptych altarpiece type and projected the new naturalism of panel painting on to a monumental scale. In fresco projects of the 1440s and 1450s, both for S Marco in Florence and for S Peter’s and the Vatican Palace in Rome, Fra Angelico softened the typically astringent and declamatory style of Tuscan mural decoration with the colouristic and luminescent nuances that characterize his panel paintings. His legacy passed directly to the second half of the 15th century through the work of his close follower Benozzo Gozzoli and indirectly through the production of Domenico Veneziano and Piero della Francesca. Fra Angelico was undoubtedly the leading master in Rome at mid-century, and had the survival rate of 15th-century Roman painting been greater, his significance for such later artists as Melozzo da Forlì and Antoniazzo Romano might be clearer than it is....

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

Ludovico Borgo and Margot Borgo

[Porta, Baccio della]

(b Florence, March 28, 1472; d Florence, Oct 31, 1517).

Italian painter and draughtsman. Vasari and later historians agree that Fra Bartolommeo was an essential force in the formation and growth of the High Renaissance. He was the first painter in Florence to understand Leonardo da Vinci’s painterly and compositional procedures. Later he created a synthesis between Leonardo’s tonal painting and Venetian luminosity of colour. Equally important were his inventions for depicting divinity as a supernatural force, and his type of sacra conversazione in which the saints are made to witness and react to a biblical event occurring before their eyes, rather than standing in devout contemplation, as was conventional before. His drawings, too, are exceptional both for their abundance and for their level of inventiveness. Many artists came under his influence: Albertinelli, Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Titian, Correggio, Beccafumi, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino.

Fra Bartolommeo was the son of Paolo, a muleteer and carter. After 1478 he lived in a modest family house outside the Porta S Pier Gattolini in Florence and consequently was dubbed Baccio (a Tuscan diminutive for Bartolommeo) della Porta. In ...

Article

Annick Benavides

[Bitti, Aloisio Bernardino Giovanni Demócrito]

(b Camerino, the Marches, 1548; d Lima, 1610).

Italian painter and sculptor active in Peru. One of seven children born to Pablo and Cornelia Bitti, Bernardo Bitti commenced formal training in the arts at the age of 14 in Camerino and completed his training in Rome. He was inducted into the Society of Jesus as a Coadjutor Brother on 2 May 1568 at the age of 20. The General of the Society of Jesus, Everardo Mecurián, assigned Bitti to the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1573 at the request of the Jesuit Provincial in Peru, Diego Bracamante, who believed religious imagery would facilitate the Catholic indoctrination of indigenous Andeans at missions. After spending 14 months in Seville, Bitti arrived in Lima on 31 May 1575 and worked there for 8 years. He subsequently embarked on a peripatetic career decorating the interiors of Jesuit sites in Cuzco, Juli, La Paz, Sucre, Potosí, Arequipa, and Ayacucho.

Bitti created the main and lateral altarpieces of the Jesuit provisional church of S Pedro in Lima with the assistance of the Andalusian Jesuit artist Pedro de Vargas (...

Article

Dagoberto L. Markl

(fl 1517–35).

South Netherlandish painter, active in Portugal. He is the most obviously Flemish of the artists working in Portugal during the first half of the 16th century. His earliest-known work may have been painted before he went to Portugal: the Mystic Marriage of St Catherine (London, N.G.), clearly influenced by the triptych of the same subject by Hans Memling (1479; Bruges, Memlingmus.). This affinity with the Bruges school and with Memling is apparent in all of Frei Carlos’s work, which is close to that of other painters then working in Évora, such as Francisco Henriques. Their marked Netherlandish characteristics derive in part from the panels of the great altarpiece dedicated to the Life of the Virgin (c. 1500; Évora, Mus. Évora), painted for Évora Cathedral by Netherlandish artists, which recalls the art of Hugo van der Goes, Gerard David and Quinten Metsys. Between 1510 and 1512 Carlos collaborated with the ...

Article

Lucinda Hawkins

[Giorgio; Klovic, Juraj]

(b Grisone [Grizane], Croatia, 1498; d Rome, Jan 3, 1578).

Italian painter and illuminator of Croatian birth. The most important illuminator of the 16th century, he was a ‘Michelangelo of small works’, according to Vasari. Many of his documented works are dispersed or untraced, and some attributions are controversial, but his secure oeuvre gives a clear idea of his stylistic influences and development. Although much of his inspiration came from Raphael and Michelangelo, he developed his own visual language, brilliantly translating their monumental forms for work on the smallest scale.

Educated in his native Croatia, Clovio came to Italy at the age of 18 to study art. He began his training in Venice and spent several years there in the service of Cardinal Domenico Grimani and his nephew Marino Grimani. During this period he visited Rome, where he met Giulio Romano and studied with him. This stay in Rome, as well as his experience of the art collections of the Grimani, which included many works by northern artists, notably Dürer, strongly influenced his artistic development. Around ...

Article

Vitor Serrão

(b Lisbon, 1598; d Cotovia, May 11, 1644).

Portuguese painter and Jesuit priest. He was apprenticed in Madrid to Eugenio Cajés, in whose studio he became familiar with the tenebrist style characterized by sharply contrasting figures, strong gradations of chiaroscuro and naturalistically rendered background and drapery. He returned to Lisbon around 1625. In 1632 he became a Jesuit, and in 1644 he died in the Noviciado da Cotovia, renowned for his saintliness. The naturalism of his works quickly gained him fame, and he was nicknamed cabrinha (little goat) by his contemporaries because of his ‘oriental features’. An early work is the beautiful Visitation (c. 1630; Lisbon, S Mamede, Sacristy). Among his patrons and collectors were the Inquisitor General, Dom Francisco de Castro, and the Capelão-mor (royal chaplain) and future Bishop of Elvas, Dom Manuel da Cunha.

Like the work of André Reinoso, that of Domingos da Cunha clearly reflects the innovative spirit of the Portuguese painters trained at the school of Madrid. Félix da Costa Meesen noted that ‘he is a good colourist’ and a ‘great imitator of the natural’, although ‘narrative was not his strong point’. These qualities are seen in the series of scenes from the ...

Article

Eliot W. Rowlands

(b Terranuova, Val d’Arno, c. 1430; d after 1492).

Italian painter. He was brought up in the Carmelite convent in Prato and first worked as garzone for the Carmelite painter Fra Filippo Lippi. On 17 July 1447 he was paid for gilding a temporary predella for Lippi’s Coronation of the Virgin (Florence, Uffizi). At Prato he assisted Lippi on his fresco cycle in the choir of the parish church (now the cathedral) between 1452 and 1466. In July 1460 Diamante received payment on Lippi’s behalf for the latter’s completion of Pesellino’s Trinity with Saints (London, N.G.), and in the same month he is recorded as a Vallombrosan monk. At this time he probably executed the frescoes of St John Gualbertus and St Albert of Trapani beside the window of the choir of Prato Cathedral.

In 1463 Diamante was imprisoned in Florence for an undisclosed crime. His absence from Prato coincided with a halt on Lippi’s fresco project, and in ...

Article

Ivo Kořán

(b Prague, bapt Dec 4, 1717; d Prague, June 17, 1767).

Bohemian painter. He was the son of the painter Kristián Grund (c. 1686–1751) and brother to the painters František Karel Grund (1721–43), Petr Pavel Christian Grund (1722–84)—also a violin virtuoso—and the harpist Jan Eustach Grund. He learnt painting with his father, who released him from his apprenticeship in 1737. Subsequently he lived in Vienna and then perhaps in Germany; he probably knew his great models, Watteau, Nicolas Lancret and Francesco Guardi, only from engravings.

Grund’s work consists of a rather confused range of small pictures, embodying almost all genres in which landscapes or dwellings include figures. He painted scenes from myths, the Bible, legends and battles; he depicted love scenes, the theatre, storms at sea, visits to ruins, studios etc. Although the human figures always endow his pictures with a light touch, often there is an implicitly deeper allegorical meaning. His paintings from the 1740s are marked by a heavy Late Baroque colour scheme, in the 1750s by fragile Rococo shades; later he accomplished a smooth transition to a classicist realism. The popularity of his works in aristocratic and bourgeois circles is underlined by reproductions by ...

Article

Netty van de Kamp

[Eberhard; Monsù Bernardo]

(b Helsingör, 1624; d Rome, 1687).

Danish painter, active in Italy. The son of a German painter working at the court of Christian IV of Denmark, he was apprenticed to the Copenhagen court painter Maarten van Steenwinckel (1595–1646) and as a master continued his training (1642–4) with Rembrandt in Amsterdam. He then opened his own studio and taught young artists until 1651, when he travelled to Italy. In Venice he obtained commissions for portraits, decorated palaces and was employed by churches and religious orders, executing works such as the Virgin with St Elia for the Carmelites in Venice and the Virgin and St Dominic for the refectory of the monastery of S Bartolomeo in Bergamo. In 1656 he arrived in Rome, where he remained until his death. During his sojourn in Italy he was converted to Catholicism.

As ‘Monsù Bernardo’ apparently never signed his works, their attribution has posed problems. Study of his work has been limited mainly to the genre pieces, though he also painted portraits and religious subjects. Some of his genre pieces have an allegorical or moralizing meaning: for example, the musical companies that he often painted can be interpreted as an allegory on the sense of hearing. His range of motifs is limited. They include women and girls with sewing on their laps, as in ...

Article

Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez

(b Pastrana, Guadalajara, 1581; d Madrid, 1641).

Spanish painter. He was born at the small court of the Prince of Eboli, Don Ruy Gómez de Silva. His father was Milanese and his mother of Portuguese origin. He went to Italy, probably before the end of the 16th century, and spent several years there. In Rome he was in contact with Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni and became familiar with the work of Caravaggio, which influenced him deeply. Given his father’s Milanese origin, he probably also had contact with artists in Brescia, Cremona and Milan.

By 1611 Maino had returned to Spain and was working in Toledo Cathedral. In January 1612 he was commissioned to paint the retable and the frescoes on the lower part of the choir and the presbytery (in situ) of the Dominican convent of S Pedro Mártir, Toledo, and before the work was complete, he took religious orders there on 27 July 1614...

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

Article

Italian, 15th century, male.

Born 21 December 1401, in San Giovanni Val d’Arno, near Florence; died 1428, in Rome.

Painter, fresco artist. Religious subjects, portraits. Murals.

Florentine School.

Masaccio is considered the founding artist of Renaissance painting, his works showing the application of Filippo Brunelleschi’s system of linear perspective, a fascination with both anatomical structure and the art of classical antiquity, and a new dramatic and emotional intensity....

Article

Charles M. Rosenberg

(fl 1463; d before 1503).

Italian illuminator and painter. In 1463 he wrote to the Duke of Milan’s agent in Cremona requesting consideration for a commission to paint an altarpiece for a memorial altar erected in S Agostino, Cremona; this would suggest that he was a painter as well as an illuminator. In 1503, in a payment made to his nephew Marchino for the illumination of a Gradual, Nebridio is referred to as deceased. Two signed illuminations survive: a cutting in Bologna with a representation of St Augustine (Bologna, Mus. Civ., Palagi, no. 130) and another showing the Resurrection (Cambridge, MA, Fogg, MS. 1916.28). On the Bolognese cutting, Nebridio identifies himself on a scroll as a ‘son of the saint’, that is, an Augustinian. His style displays a density of decoration characterized by courtliness and elegance and shows the survival of Late Gothic influences in Cremonese art. Levi d’Ancona detected a reflection of the style of Bonifacio Bembo and of the later work of Belbello da Pavia in Nebridio’s illuminations and suggested a Venetian connection between Nebridio and Belbello, an idea that was rejected by Bandera. A number of works have been attributed to Nebridio, including a Breviary dated ...

Article

Jonathan Nelson

[Pulisena]

(bapt Florence, Jan 29, 1524; d Florence, May 7, 1588).

Italian painter. Nelli is the first woman artist in Florence for whom we have a body of surviving works, and one of the first European women we can identify with extant religious paintings on a large scale. The daughter of the Florentine patrician Piero di Luca Nelli, she took the name of Suor Plautilla when she became a nun in 1538. Vasari described her in 1568 as a nun and prioress of the convent of S Caterina di Siena in Florence (destr.), and mentioned more works by her than any other female artist; these include miniatures, large and small devotional paintings and several altarpieces. Renaissance and modern sources have created a disparate group of over fifty works attributed to Nelli, but only three paintings can be securely identified. Vasari referred to two works from her convent: the Lamentation with Saints (Florence, Mus. S. Marco), from the outer (public) church, and the ...

Article

Enrique Valdivièso

(b Seville, 1640; d ?1695–8).

Spanish painter. He was born into an aristocratic family and was educated for a military career. However, he turned to letters and painting at an early age, and in 1660 he was one of the artists who, with Murillo, founded the Academia de Pintura in Seville. In 1661 he joined the Jerusalem Order of the Knights of Malta and travelled to Malta, where he underwent religious and military training. There he met the Italian painter Mattia Preti, who was also a member of the Order; the two became friends and established a working relationship. From 1664 on Núñez de Villavicencio travelled to Italy and Spain in the service of the Order and on several occasions was able to return to Seville. He must also have passed through Madrid, as he is known to have been in contact with Charles II.

Núñez de Villavicencio’s style was formed initially in Seville, where he was strongly influenced by Murillo; while in Malta he absorbed much from Mattia Preti, and his few surviving works are strongly Italianate in style. In ...

Article

Ludovico Borgo and Margot Borgo

[Paolo di Bernardino d’Antonio]

(b Pistoia ?1490; d Pistoia, Aug 3, 1547).

Italian sculptor, painter and draughtsman. He was the son of Bernardino del Signoraccio (Bernardino d’Antonio; 1460–after 1532), a minor Pistoian painter, and is first recorded in 1513 as a monk of the Dominican convent of S Marco in Florence. In that year he made two clay statues of St Dominic and St Mary Magdalene (both untraced) that in 1516 were placed in S Maria Maddalena in Pian di Mugnone.

His first documented painting is a fresco of the Crucifixion (1516; Siena, Santo Spirito), done with the assistance of Fra Agostino, showing a type of composition invented by Fra Bartolommeo for miniaturized painting. The figure of Christ, however, is derived from Albertinelli’s Crucifixion (Florence, Certosa del Galluzzo (also known as di Val d’Ema)). During these years Fra Paolino must have worked as an assistant to Fra Bartolommeo, but his precise contributions remain difficult to isolate. He was obviously admired within S Marco, however, since, on Fra ...

Article

Richard Bösel

(b Trento, Nov 30, 1642; d Vienna, Aug 31, 1709).

Italian painter, architect and stage designer. He was a brilliant quadratura painter, whose most celebrated works, such as the decoration of the church of S Ignazio in Rome, unite painting, architecture and sculpture in effects of overwhelming illusionism and are among the high-points of Baroque church art. He was a Jesuit lay brother and produced his most significant work for the Society of Jesus. This affiliation was fundamental to his conception of art and to his heightened awareness of the artist’s role as instrumental in proclaiming the faith and stimulating religious fervour. The methods he used were those of Counter-Reformation rhetoric, as represented in Ignatius Loyola’s Spirited Exercises (1548). His architectural works are eclectic, and his unconventional combination of varied sources led to bold experiments with both space and structure. His ideas were spread by his highly successful two-volume treatise, Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum (1693–1700).

He received his first artistic training in Trento, with a painter who appears to have worked in the studio of Palma Giovane. He then studied with an unidentifiable pupil of, among others, Andrea Sacchi, who would have been the first to instruct Pozzo in the art of the Roman High Baroque, and he followed this painter to Como and Milan. In Milan Pozzo joined the Society of Jesus on ...

Article

John T. Spike

[il Cavalier Calabrese]

(b Taverna, Calabria, Feb 24, 1613; d Valletta, Malta, Jan 3, 1699).

Italian painter and draughtsman. Although he was trained and had his first success as a painter in Rome during the 1630s and 1640s, he is traditionally associated with the Neapolitan school. It was in Naples between 1653 and 1660 that he made his most lasting mark, contributing to the evolution of the exuberant late Baroque style and providing an important source of inspiration to later generations of painters, notably to Francesco Solimena. From 1661 he was based in Malta, where his most substantial undertaking was the decoration of St John’s, Valletta. Preti’s mature style is intensely dramatic and unites a Caravaggesque realism and expressive chiaroscuro with the grandeur and theatricality of Venetian High Renaissance painting.

At an early age, probably before 1630, Preti set out to join his brother Gregorio Preti [il Calabrese] (c. 1603–72), a painter who had arrived in Rome from Taverna c. 1628 and is documented at the Accademia di S Luca, Rome, between ...