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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....


Patrizia Ferretti

[Vante di Gabriello di Vante Attavanti]

(b Castelfiorentino, 1452; d Florence, 1520–25).

Italian illuminator. He has been praised by art historians since his own times, although many of his autograph works were incorrectly assigned to his workshop. New attributions, supported by archival material, have made it possible to reconstruct his oeuvre and life more accurately. He worked for celebrated patrons and collaborated with the most important illuminators and painters of Florence: Francesco di Antonio del Chierico, the Master of the Hamilton Xenophon, the brothers Gherardo and Monte di Giovanni di Miniato del Foro and Domenico Ghirlandaio, and documents indicate contacts also with Leonardo da Vinci. Attavanti probably trained with del Chierico in 1471–2, while working on the Antiphonary for Florence Cathedral (Florence, Bib. Medicea–Laurenziana, MS. Edili 148). Among the work of late 15th-century illuminators, that of Attavanti is distinguished by his citations from the Antique, his ideas derived from Netherlandish and Florentine panel painting and his illustration of philosophical themes. Recurrent motifs include frontispieces with entablatures on columns, copies of sarcophagi as altar frontals, cameos, allegorical figures within medals and richly dressed figures isolated in framed medallions or symmetrically grouped....


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 ...


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 ...


Sheila Edmunds

[Baemler, Johann; Bemler, Hans]

(fl 1453–1504).

German illuminator and printer . He is listed in the Augsburg tax rolls from 1453 as a scribe and from 1477 as a printer. Bämler belonged to the guild of painters, glassmakers, woodcut-makers and goldbeaters, eventually achieving the rank of Zwollfer (director). Examples of his youthful work are two signed miniatures dated 1457 (New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib., MS. M.45) and a signed historiated initial on a detached Antiphonal leaf (Philadelphia, PA, Free Lib., Lewis M 67:3). Between 1466 and 1468 he rubricated and decorated with calligraphic and painted ornament four books printed in Strasbourg: a Latin Bible (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bib., Bibel-S.2°155), a copy of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologica (Munich, Bayer Staatsbib., 2° Inc. s.a.1146a) and two copies of St Augustine’s City of God (Chantilly, Mus. Condé, XXII.D.11, and Manchester, John Rylands U. Lib., no. 3218, Inc. 3A8).

Bämler’s knowledge of printing was probably acquired in Augsburg, in the shop of ...


(fl second half of the 15th century).

Italian master builder and architect. During 1465 and 1466 his name appears in the wages book of the Ospedale Maggiore of Lodi, for which he produced doors, oculi and windows in terracotta. In 1479 he was appointed engineer of the city of Milan, and in 1489 he is mentioned as ducal engineer. He worked on the fortifications at Biasca in 1481, and in the same year Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan (reg 1476–94), recommended Battaggio and Giovanni Antonio Amadeo to succeed Guinoforte Solari as architect to the Fabbrica del Duomo. Amadeo was appointed, but Battaggio did not manage to enter the conservative Milanese workshop either then or two years later, when Ludovico Sforza proposed him in preference to Hans Niesenberger. In 1484 Conte Manfredo Landi III (d 1491) commissioned Battaggio and Agostino Fonduli to finish and decorate the façade of his palazzo in Piacenza (now the Palazzo dei Tribunali). This work included the window-frames, the string course bearing heads of Roman emperors and scenes of the marine thiasos and the ...


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 ...


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 ...



(fl c. 1471/4–1513).

Italian illuminator and engraver. In 1894 he was tentatively associated with his principal work, the Hours of Bona Sforza (London, BL, Add. MSS 34294, 45722 and 62997), and became known as the Master of the Sforza Book of Hours or the Pseudo-Antonio da Monza; in 1956 he was conclusively identified by his signature psbr io petr biragvs ft on the frontispiece of a copy (Warsaw, N. Lib., Inc. F. 1347) of Giovanni Simonetta’s life of Francesco Sforza, the Sforziada, published first in Latin and then in Italian translation at Milan in 1490.

Three choir-books from Brescia Cathedral dated c. 1471–4 (Brescia, Pin. Civ. Tosio-Martinengo, nos 22, 23 and 25) are the earliest known works signed by Birago. It has been suggested that he was active in Venice during the 1480s. Miniatures attributed to him appear in a Breviary of the Venetian Barozzo family, printed on parchment by Nicolas Jenson at Venice in ...


Patrizia Ferretti

[Boccardino the elder]

(b Florence, 1460; d Florence, March 1, 1529).

Italian illuminator. His activity is documented through Florentine records of payment by the Badia, the Opera del Duomo and the church of S Lorenzo. From payments dated 1477, 1479 and 1480, it appears that Boccardi was enrolled in the Compagnia della Purificazione e di S Zanobi. In 1480 he was an apprentice in the bottega of the bookseller Bastiano, but he may have begun working as early as 1475 in the bottega of Francesco di Antonio del Chierico.

Boccardi worked on Classical and humanist subjects as well as religious books. In 1485 he illuminated for a Book of Hours (Munich, Bayer. Staatsbib. Clm. 23639) a page that is particularly close to the work of Gherardo di Giovanni del Foro in the Netherlandish treatment of landscape and figures. Eight miniatures for the Psalter of S Egidio, dated 1486, are lost. In a Book of Hours illuminated by several artists (Attavante Attavanti, ...


(b Capranica, c. 1500; d Rome, 1575).

Italian illuminator. He almost certainly studied under Giulio Clovio in Rome and later worked at the papal court, probably from 1523 to 1572; his name is entered in the Archivio di Stato Romano for the year 1568–9. A detached leaf from a choir-book, now in a book of cuttings, some of which are signed (London, BL, Add. MS. 21412, fols 36–43), bears the date 1564 and an inscription stating that Bonfratelli was miniator (miniaturist) to the Apostolic Chamber under Pope Pius IV. Its fine miniature of the Adoration of the Shepherds shows some influence of Raphael, while the borders, decorated with a frieze of festoons and architectural motifs, have small figures in the style of Michelangelo. Other works attributed to Bonfratelli include a small miniature of St Luke (Philadelphia, PA, Free Lib., Lewis MS. M. 27:7) and a single leaf (New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib., MS. M. 270) composed of fragments including the ...


(fl 1488; d Padua, Feb 1530).

Italian illuminator, printmaker and writer. He is first mentioned in Padua as an illuminator in 1488. He has been identified as the Benedetto Padovano who signed the Digestum novum (benedi[cti] patav[ini]) and the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX (be[nedicti] pa[tavini]), published by Jenson in Venice in 1477 and 1479 respectively (Gotha, Landesbib., Mon. Typ. 1477; Mon. Typ. 1479). Both incunabula were commissioned by the German book dealer Peter Ugelheimer, for whom Girolamo da Cremona also worked, probably shortly after 1483; the apparent dependence of Bordon’s style on Girolamo, particularly in his early works, may suggest that the Gotha incunabula were decorated after that date, during the years in which Bordon is documented in Padua. In the same period he probably also illuminated two folios (Munich, Staatl. Graph. Samml., 40198 and 40140), a Book of Hours (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. 1970) and a Cistercian Breviary (Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Canon. Lit. 343)....


Christoph Luitpold Frommel

[Francesco del Cereo di Borgo San Sepolcro]

(b Borgo San Sepolcro, Tuscany; d Rome, 1468).

Italian architect, illuminator and papal functionary. He is first mentioned in 1450 as a member of the financial staff of the Apostolic Chamber and of the secret treasury of Nicholas V, and he rose quickly through the levels of the financial bureaucracy at the papal court. He is known to have illustrated manuscripts of Latin translations of Archimedes, Euclid, Ptolemy and Muhammad al-Qazwini [Kazwini], some of which were decorated at his behest in 1457–8. Mixing in humanist circles at the court, Francesco may have been taught architecture and engineering by Leon Battista Alberti.

Alberti may also have recommended Francesco to Pius II, who commissioned him to design the benediction loggia in front of St Peter’s and the reshaping of the Piazza S Pietro. Francesco planned to replace the temporary wooden pulpit in front of the old atrium, from which the earlier popes had blessed the crowd, by a two-storey marble loggia of eleven bays. Its elevation recalled the exterior of Roman theatres. Instead of half columns, however, antique marble shafts articulated the arcades. It was the first faithful imitation of Roman Imperial architecture and the first forum building ...


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 ...


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 ...


Jan Johnson

(b Carpi, fl c. 1502–32).

Italian woodcutter. He trained as a type-founder and painter and c. 1509 moved to Venice, where he was employed for five or more years making woodcut book illustrations. Despite the menial nature of his work, which involved copying 15th-century designs, he broke with custom by signing his blocks. By 1515 he had secured an important commission from the Venetian publisher Bernardino Benalius to cut blocks for the Sacrifice of Abraham, (Passavant, VI, 223) a large black-and-white print on four joined sheets (Berlin, Altes Mus., 15.15). The composition is a pastiche of elements taken from Dürer and Titian and was designed perhaps by Ugo himself. Benalius sought a copyright for the print, and, probably under this influence, the following year Ugo sought the protection of the Venetian Senate for a colour-printing process he was now using, the chiaroscuro woodcut (see Woodcut, chiaroscuro, §1). He claimed to have invented the technique, although it was not this that was patented, as is often thought; rather he copyrighted all his chiaroscuro designs, past and future, doubtless due to the plagiarism of earlier works such as the ...