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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

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

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

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Hebrew Bible (Jerusalem, National.. Library of Israel., MS. Heb 4°790, and a single page in Toledo, El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum), copied c. 1260, perhaps in Toledo by Menachem ben Abraham ibn Malikh for Isaac bar Abraham Hadad, both members of known and documented Toledan families. At some later stage further decorations were added, apparently in Burgos. The Damascus Keter is an outstanding exemplar out of approximately 120 decorated Bibles from Iberia and belongs to a group of three very similar codices from the middle of the 13th century, produced in Toledo. It thus represents a rich tradition of Jewish art flourishing between the 13th and the 15th centuries. These Bibles were used either by scholars for private study, or for biblical readings during synagogue services.

Typical of numerous Bibles from the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula, the decoration consists of numerous carpet pages executed in Micrography and enriched by painted embellishments. This is a technique typically used in Hebrew decorated books and harks back to Middle Eastern manuscripts of the 10th century. Apart from the carpet pages, the Damascus ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Chaumont, Haute-Marne, Jan 21, 1881; d Paris, July 31, 1965).

French archaeologist and art historian, active in Iran. Godard qualified as an architect at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and in 1910 became involved with the urban planning of Baghdad. At this time, he began to develop an interest in the archaeology and art of the Middle East. He visited Egypt and Syria and, in 1923, went to Afghanistan to research Buddhist remains. In 1928 he settled in Iran, where he lived until 1960, except for the years 1953–6. During his years in Iran he directed the College of Fine Arts, Tehran, and the Department of Antiquities, founded the Archaeological (Iran Bastan) Museum and drew up plans for the museums of Mashhad and Abadan. He also initiated the documentation and restoration of many ancient monuments and archaeological remains and gained access to sites previously forbidden to non-Muslims. He published many of the principal monuments of Iran in such learned journals as ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(Emil)

(b Celle, July 23, 1879; d Basle, Jan 21, 1948).

German architect, archaeologist, historian and philologist. He was educated at the universities of Munich and Berlin and at the Technische Hochschule, Charlottenburg, where he trained as an architect. In 1903 he visited the Middle East by participating as field architect in the excavation of Assur by the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft. The expedition was led by Friedrich Delitzsch, Herzfeld’s instructor in Assyrian and Arabic, and it enabled him to learn the techniques of excavation and to develop his interest in early Islamic culture. After returning to Germany, he made a journey through Luristan to visit Pasargadae and Persepolis, and following the acceptance of his doctoral thesis on Pasargadae by the University of Berlin in 1907, he travelled with Friedrich Sarre, his lifelong colleague and friend whom he had met in 1905, from Istanbul via Aleppo and Baghdad to the Gulf to find an Islamic site suitable for excavation. The choice fell upon ...

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

Herbert Kessler

(b Jerusalem, Dec 14, 1926; d Jerusalem, June 29, 2008).

Israeli art historian of Jewish art. Educated first at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he moved to London and earned an MA in art history at the Courtauld Institute (1959) and a PhD at the Warburg Institute (1962). Returning to Jerusalem, Narkiss rose steadily through the ranks from 1963 when he began teaching at the Hebrew University and, in 1984, was appointed Nicolas Landau Professor of Art History. He also held fellowships and visiting positions at: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies in Washington, DC (1969–70); the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1979–80); the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (1983), Brown University in Providence, RI (1984–5); the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris (1987–8); the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC (Samuel H. Kress Professor ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Phoenix, RI, Feb 7, 1881; d Warren, CT, Sept 3, 1969).

American art historian and archaeologist. He was educated at Brown and Cornell universities and taught at the University of California and Amherst College. In 1920 he married Phyllis Ackerman, who shared his scholarly interests in Persian art. By 1923 he was director of the San Francisco Museum. In 1925 he began research in Iran and from that year acted as art adviser to the Iranian government. From 1930 he was director of the American Institute for Iranian Art and Archaeology (subsequently renamed Iranian, then Asia, Institute and transferred to Pahlavi University of Shiraz). He lectured widely and organized various exhibitions and congresses of Persian art in the USA, Great Britain, and Russia. His greatest achievement was editing the multi-volume Survey of Persian Art. In 1939 he was chairman of the Committee for Chinese War Orphans and from 1940 to 1948 chairman of the Committee for National Morale. From 1960 he was president of the International Association of Iranian Art and Archaeology. In ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

( Kyrle )

(b London, Oct 13, 1897; d Sharon, CT, April 18, 1986).

American archaeologist, curator and collector . Trained as an artist at the Slade School, University College, London, in 1920 he joined the graphic section of the Egyptian Expedition to Thebes, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. During the 1920s and 1930s Wilkinson painted facsimiles of Egyptian tomb paintings in the museum collection, and he joined museum excavations in the Kharga Oasis (Egypt) and Qasr-i Abu Nasr and Nishapur (Iran). Transferred to the curatorial staff of the museum in 1947, he became curator in 1956 of the new Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, which merged with the Department of Islamic Art in 1957. Through his energetic collaboration on major excavations at Hasanlu, Nimrud and Nippur, Wilkinson greatly expanded the Ancient Near Eastern collections at the Metropolitan Museum. After his retirement from the museum in 1963, he taught Islamic art at Columbia University and was Hagop Kevorkian Curator of Middle Eastern Art and Archaeology at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (...