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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

S. J. Vernoit

(b New York, Feb 7, 1875; d Monaco, Jan 19, 1968).

British mining consultant and collector of American birth. He was educated at the Columbia School of Mines and at Princeton University; by the age of 28 he was the consulting engineer and assistant general manager of the Guggenheim Exploration Company. In 1913, two years after the death of his first wife, he settled in London and became established as a mining consultant. He married Edith Dunn and bought Baroda House in Kensington Palace Gardens. With one of his associates, Herbert Hoover, later President of the USA (1929–33), he reorganized the Kyshtin mine in the Urals. The Selection Trust Ltd, which he established in 1914 to develop and finance profitable mines throughout the world, made great headway after World War I, and he remained its chairman until 1960. He was naturalized as a British citizen in 1933. In his youth he began collecting a range of items, including Western manuscripts and Chinese snuff bottles, but his main passion was collecting Islamic manuscripts and paintings, early Bibles and rare books, Impressionist paintings, French and Russian gold snuffboxes, 18th-century watches, clocks, and stamps. His interest in the Islamic arts of the book, particularly manuscripts of the Koran, was stimulated by frequent visits to Cairo, where he wintered between the wars. Although he had no knowledge of Arabic, Persian, or Turkish, he was keen to give scholars access to his collection and loaned manuscripts to many exhibitions. In ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Kilmarnock, Aug 18, 1835; d Edinburgh, July 3, 1900).

Scottish soldier, archaeologist, diplomat and collector of Iranian art. He was educated at Glasgow University, and in 1855 he obtained a commission in the Royal Engineers. The following year he joined the expedition of Charles Newton to Halikarnassos, which resulted in the discovery of the Mausoleum and the acquisition of its sculptures for the British Museum. In 1860 with E. A. Porcher, Murdoch Smith formed at his own expense an expedition to Cyrene in Libya. From this expedition he returned with Greek sculptures and inscriptions (London, BM). In 1863 he was selected for service on the Iranian section of a proposed telegraph line from Britain to India, and in 1865 he became its director in Tehran, holding that post for the next 20 years. He initiated his collecting activities for the South Kensington (later Victoria and Albert) Museum in 1873 when he offered his services as an agent. From 1873 to 1885...