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Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

A. Wallert

[Lat.: ‘Little key of painting’]

Medieval compendium of recipes. It possibly originated in northern France or Germany. Like the Compositiones variae, it can be related to knowledge of ancient Egyptian origin and early Greek alchemist texts. Some of its recipes are literal translations of texts in the Leiden papyrus (3rd century ad; Leiden, Rijksmus. Oudhd., MS. X). The Mappae clavicula has descriptions of the nature and preparation of various minerals, herbs, woods, stones, and chemicals. It contains recipes for making glues, solder, and pigments and many recipes of a metallurgical nature. It also has instructions for dyeing both textiles and skins for parchment in purple, for writing in gold and silver and for making gold leaf.

The most complete copy of the Mappae clavicula is in a 12th-century manuscript (Corning, NY, Mus. Glass, Phillipps MS. 3715), which was published in transcript in 1847. An earlier copy is dated to the 10th century (Sélestat, Bib. Human., MS. 17), while the earliest fragments of the ...

Article

Sebastian Wormell

(b St Louis, Senegal, 1867; d Paris, May 8, 1953).

French art and architectural historian. His main interest was in Byzantine art of the medieval period, and he was one of the first Western European scholars to take a serious interest in the art of the Palaiologan period (1261–1453). Most of his original research was based on field work undertaken between 1890 and 1914 in Trebizond, Greece and Serbia. This resulted in the publication (1916) of two major works, one relating medieval paintings in Greece to liturgical sources and the other an attempt to develop a classification of regional schools and chronology in Byzantine architecture. Although some of the methodology is now outdated, these pioneering works are still of value, as are his study of the monastery of Dafni and his albums of illustrative material on the Byzantine monuments at Mystras and Mt Athos. Another major contribution to Byzantine studies was the large photographic library he assembled at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. His interests led him to the art and architecture of other regions influenced by Constantinople, especially in the Balkans and the Slavic countries. His study of medieval Serbian churches is still fundamental, and he edited an important collection of papers on the impact of Byzantine art on the Slavs. Millet’s work in this field was of particular interest to art historians in the countries of south-eastern Europe who were seeking the roots of their national artistic traditions....

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....