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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 ...


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....


Phyllis Pray Bober

(b Bologna, 1474–5; d Bologna, Nov 19, 1552).

Italian painter, sculptor, illuminator, printmaker and draughtsman . He was born into a family of painters, and his youthful facility reportedly astonished his contemporaries. His work developed in the Emilian–Ferrarese tradition of Ercole de’ Roberti, Lorenzo Costa the elder and, above all, Francesco Francia. Until the re-evaluation by Longhi, critical assessment of Amico’s oeuvre was over-reliant on literary sources, especially Vasari’s unsympathetic account of an eccentric, half-insane master working so rapidly with both hands (the ‘chiaro’ in one, the ‘scuro’ in the other) that he was able to finish decorating an entire house façade in one day.

Longhi presented Amico as a creative master whose expressive intensity and sensitive use of colour rescued Bolognese painting of the early 16th century from sterile echoes of Raphael. Today Aspertini is viewed as an influential precursor of Mannerism, and his highly individual study of antiquity has been brought to the fore by the publication of his sketchbooks. Amico was not a mere imitator of ancient artists, but their imaginative rival, whether in his grotesques derived from the decorations of Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome (e.g. the Parma sketchbook and the borders of his ...


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....


Isabel Mateo Gómez

(b ?Toledo; d 1595).

Spanish painter, miniaturist, sculptor, architect and writer. He belongs to the Toledan school of the second half of the 16th century. The son of the painter Lorenzo de Ávila, he developed a Mannerist style that is smooth and delicate and derives from his father’s and from that of Juan Correa de Vivar and of Francisco Comontes (d 1565). He worked as painter to Toledo Cathedral from 1565 to 1581 and was painter (Pintor del Rey) to Philip II from 1583. He acted frequently as a valuer for the work of other artists.

Between 1563 and 1564, in collaboration with Luis de Velasco, Hernando de Ávila painted the retable of the church of Miraflores (Madrid Province) with the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin (untraced); these are probably among his earliest works. He was commissioned to paint the retables of St John the Baptist and the ...


Flemish School, 17th century, male.

Active in Mechelen.

Born probably 1602.

Painter, illuminator.

Augustin van Avont travelled in Germany before finally settling in Brussels.


Russian, 17th century, male.

Draughtsman, illustrator.

Avramov was employed in the state printing works in Moscow from 1668 to 1676. In 1649, he collaborated with Gregor Blagushin on the illustrations for two books for the Tsar on the life of the miracle-worker St Savva.


Ailsa Turner


(b Florence, Oct ?14, 1425; d Florence, Aug 29, 1499).

Italian painter. Belonging to the generation of Florentine painters that followed Domenico Veneziano and Fra Filippo Lippi, he worked all his life in Florence and kept a notebook of commissions. He experimented with painting techniques, sometimes with unfortunate results. His sense of pattern and decoration was particularly suited to the design of mosaic, intarsia and stained glass.

Baldovinetti was the eldest son of a wealthy merchant and rejected the prospect of a career in commerce to become an artist. In 1448 he enrolled in the Compagnia di S Luca and the following year began to keep a notebook of commissions and transactions. His earliest attributable works, c. 1449, form part of the decoration of the doors of the silver cupboard (Florence, Mus. S Marco) formerly in the chapel of the Annunciation in SS Annunziata, Florence, for which Baldovinetti painted the Marriage at Cana, the Baptism and the Transfiguration; their traditional iconography was possibly determined by ...


British, 17th century, male.

Born 1626, in Lincolnshire; died 1702, 11 August 1704 according to some sources.

Painter, watercolourist, engraver, draughtsman, illustrator. Portraits, hunting scenes, animals, birds, landscapes with figures.

Francis Barlow initially painted portraits, like his master, William Shepherd. He soon went on, however, to devote his attentions to painting horses, dogs and birds from life and has been described as the first English sporting painter for works like ...


French, 17th century, male.

Born 1589, in Badonviller (Meuse); died 6 June 1639, in Badonviller.

Draughtsman, engraver. Ex-libris plates.

Barthol was a citizen of Geneva on 27 December 1631. He drew and engraved the ex-libris of the library of Geneva academy.


Fiorella Sricchia Santoro

(di Giacomo di Pace)

(b Cortine in Valdibiana Montaperti, 1484; d Siena, between Jan and May 1551).

Italian painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker and illuminator. He was one of the protagonists, perhaps even the most precocious, of Tuscan Mannerism, which he practised with a strong sense of his Sienese artistic background but at the same time with an awareness of contemporary developments in Florence and Rome. He responded to the new demand for feeling and fantasy while retaining the formal language of the early 16th century. None of Beccafumi’s works is signed or dated, but his highly personal maniera has facilitated almost unanimous agreement regarding the definition of his corpus and the principal areas of influence on it. However, some questions concerning the circumstances of his early career and the choices available to him remain unanswered. The more extreme forms of Beccafumi’s reckless experimentation underwent a critical reappraisal only in the later 20th century.

The primary sources of information concerning Beccafumi are Vasari’s biography (1568) and archival findings, mostly 19th century, relating to the artist. Vasari, although a direct acquaintance of Beccafumi in his last years and in a position to gather information from mutual friends, was, predictably, unreliable in regard to his early career. According to Vasari, Mecherino, the son of a poor farmer named Giacomo di Pace, became the protégé of ...


Dutch, 17th century, male.

Born c. 1610; died 1653, at Hampton Court, near London.

Painter, copyist. Figures, historical portraits.

Jan van Belkamp spent most of his life in London, where he worked as a copyist at the royal collection.

Vienna, 17 March 1970: Portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria of England...


Italian, 15th century, male.

Active in Venice,c. 1443–1490.

Painter, manuscript illuminator.

Leonardo Bellini was the nephew of Jacopo Bellini and cousin of his sons Giovanni and Gentile, all three of whom were painters. A contract dated 1443 documents Leonardo as an apprentice to Jacopo, with whom he lived. Although a few panel paintings have been attributed to him, Leonardo was primarily active as an illuminator. He seems to have specialised in adding miniatures to ...


(fl 1388; d after 1450).

Italian painter and illuminator. Milanese writers from the humanist Uberto Decembrio (1350–1427) to Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo in the 16th century described Michelino as the greatest artist of his time. He was especially praised for his skill and prodigious talent in the naturalistic portrayal of animals and birds. Records of payments made in 1388 to a ‘Michelino pictore’ who painted scenes from the Life of St Augustine in the second cloister of the Augustinian convent of S Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, Pavia, are thought to be the earliest references to the artist. He was still resident in Pavia in 1404, when the Fabbrica (Cathedral Works) of Milan Cathedral decided to consult him as ‘the greatest in the arts of painting and design’. The frescoes in S Pietro in Ciel d’Oro and a panel by Michelino dated 1394 that was in S Mustiola, Pavia, in the 17th century have not survived, but two of the manuscripts with illumination firmly attributed to Michelino date from his time in Pavia: St Augustine’s ...


German, 17th century, male.

Active in Germany.

Draughtsman, engraver (burin), print publisher. Ornaments, decorative designs, frontispieces.

Paul Birckenhultz's engravings included ornamental plates, frontispieces and various works for silver- and goldsmiths. Mention should also be made of an engraving depicting The Four Elements.



French, 17th century, male.

Active in Annonay (Ardèche) in the middle of the 17th century.


The only known work by this artist is a painting entitled Still-life with Books, which was acquired by the Musée de Bourg in 1851. It was not shown or critiqued until the ...


Swiss, 16th – 17th century, male.

Born c. 1550, in Zaubern (Alsace); died 23 or 16 March 1624, in Basel.

Painter, draughtsman, copyist, art restorer. Portraits, genre scenes. Frescoes.

Basel School.

Hans Bock the Elder is thought to have begun his studies in Strasbourg, where he went to familiarise himself with the work of Flemish artists such as Jan van Orley, Arnold van Orley and Niklaus. He copied works of art in the Amerbach collection in Basel, and later worked as an assistant in the studio of Hans Hug Klauber, whom he was to succeed. For his admission to the Himmelzunft guild, he painted a composition showing a ...


Nicole Reynaud

(b 1457; d Tours, 1521).

French painter and illuminator. He worked in Tours towards the end of the 15th century and was an official painter to Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII, and Francis I. Despite the absence of Bourdichon’s name from contemporary historical writings, he enjoyed the highest reputation in his own day. This is clear not only from the rank of those who commissioned work from him and from the sumptuous quality of his surviving works but also from the sheer quantity of works he produced, which implies that he had assistants to help him keep up with demand. Having already worked for Louis XI for two years, Bourdichon succeeded Jean Fouquet as Peintre du Roi in 1481. He was in favour at court and well regarded by Charles VIII, who had a workshop set up for him in the castle at Plessis-lès-Tours and provided generous dowries for his daughters; the painter enjoyed a long official career and lived in considerable comfort as a landowner. Bourdichon received a regular wage as ‘painter and valet de chambre in ordinary’ and was mentioned in the royal accounts, mainly with reference to the numerous functional decorations and temporary creations for which he was responsible. His name also appears in connection with designs for coins, stained-glass windows, and silver or gold plate. He received a considerable number of commissions for paintings on wood, particularly of the Virgin in glory, and for various portraits. Only one of Bourdichon’s panel paintings is known to survive (see §1 below), but far more of his work as an illuminator is extant. As his success brought him both imitators and subcontractors, it seems appropriate to reduce his corpus to those manuscripts that are most similar to his only documented work, the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany. His activities as an illuminator are otherwise poorly documented; the only works mentioned are the ...


Dutch School, 17th century, male.

Born c. 1585; died 1642-1646, in Oslo, Norway.

Painter, illustrator, engraver (?). Portraits, landscapes, landscapes with figures.

Adam van Breen was married in The Hague in 1611, and became a member of the guild there in 1612. In 1617 he produced illustrations for the work ...


Anna Maria Ferrari


(b Oreno, nr Monza, c. 1480; d Milan, Jan 19, 1524).

Italian painter. In 1490, aged 10, he joined the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan. In his notebooks Leonardo described him as a ‘lying, obstinate, greedy thief’ but also considered him an able pupil. He was nicknamed Salaì (or Salaino, the name of a demon) because of his lively and irascible character. He remained with Leonardo for about 30 years. In 1499 he accompanied him to Mantua, Venice and Florence. By 1505 he had achieved some fame as a painter; Alvise Ciocha, an agent of Isabella d’Este, Marchesa of Mantua, described him as ‘very able for his years’ and invited him to advise Pietro Perugino who was working for her. He accompanied Leonardo to Rome in 1513 and three years later to France, with Francesco Melzi.

In 1519, following his master’s death, Salaì settled in Milan on property that Leonardo had bequeathed him. He died a violent death. An inventory of his possessions shows that he inherited many works by ...