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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

Italian, 18th century, male.

Born c. 1675, in Rome; died c. 1730.

Engraver (burin), art dealer. Religious subjects, architectural views.

Worked initially under the tutelage of his father, Pietro Santo Bartoli. It is probable that this is the same artist as F. Bartoli who produced coloured drawings based on religious works in St Peter's in Rome on behalf of the English art collector John Talman. The volume containing these engraved illustrations has been in the British Museum in London since ...

Article

Jutland  

Harriet Sonne de Torrens

Mainland peninsula of modern-day Denmark and one of the three provinces (Jutland, Zealand and Skåne, southern Sweden) that constituted medieval Denmark. The conversion of the Danes to Christianity initiated a reorganization of the economic, social and legal structures of Denmark that would change the shape of Jutland dramatically between the 11th and 14th centuries. Under Knut the Great, King of Denmark and England (reg 1019–35), Jutland acquired a stable diocesan system (1060) that enabled a systematic collection of tithes and the growth of religious institutions between 1050 and 1250. During this period, agricultural practices changed as manor houses and landed estates were established, producing wealth for the ruling families. Under Valdemar I (reg 1157–82) and Knut VI (reg 1182–1202), Jutland witnessed a great building activity; on Jutland more than 700 stone churches were constructed, some replacing earlier wooden churches, each needing liturgical furnishings. Workshops, such as that of the renowned sculptor Horder and many others, were actively engaged in carving stone baptismal fonts (e.g. Malt, Skodborg, Ut, Stenild), capitals, reliefs (Vestervig, Aalborg) and tympana (Gjøl, Ørsted, Stjaer, Skibet), wooden cult figures, Jutland’s golden altars (Lisbjerg, Sahl, Stadil, Tamdrup) and wall paintings. Evidence of the earliest wall paintings in Jutland, ...

Article

French, 18th – 19th century, male.

Born 18 July 1758, in Courtrai; died 12 January 1835, in Paris.

Painter, picture dealer. Church interiors, architectural views.

Pierre Joseph Lafontaine was first a student of Kaplan Van Neste, a distinguished connoisseur, who had him accepted by the academy in Courtrai, and then he worked with Jean Douelle. He concentrated especially on the painting of church interiors. He went to Paris, where he seems to have had some success. Taunay, Demarne, Swebach and Drolling worked on some of his pictures. Bryan's ...

Article

Dutch, 17th century, male.

Born c. 1620, in Rotterdam; died 31 August 1676, in Rotterdam.

Painter, architect, collector. Religious subjects, portraits.

Lois married Eva van Mismebeck on 31 August 1649. He was captain of the civil guard from 1652 to 1653, and in 1664 was made an alderman....

Article

Pomposa  

Charles B. McClendon

Italian former Benedictine abbey near the mouth of the Po River and 45 km north of Ravenna in the province of Emilia Romagna. Although first documented in ad 874, a monastic settlement probably existed there at least two centuries earlier. Pomposa rose to prominence in the 10th and 11th centuries through the support of the Holy Roman emperors. Over the course of the 14th century, a notable series of wall paintings in three different buildings were sponsored despite the monastery’s waning fortunes. In 1663 the monastic community was suppressed by papal decree. The site was secularized in 1802 and became property of the Italian state after 1870.

The proportions of the wooden-roofed basilican church, along with the polygonal outline of its main apse, reflect influence from nearby Ravenna and Classe and suggest a date in the 8th or 9th century. An elaborate pavement of mosaic and cut stone (opus sectile...

Article

Ratgar  

David Parsons

[Radger]

(d 6 Dec ?sd 820).

Abbot and architect. He was Abbot of Fulda from 802 to 817. Ratgar is described in a near-contemporary source as ‘skilful architect’ and is regarded by some authorities as second only to Einhard as a master builder of the Carolingian revival. A pupil of Sturm, the first Abbot (744–79), he took charge of the rebuilding of the monastery church in the 790s under Abbot Baugulf (779–802). Following his unanimous election, the early years of Ratgar’s abbacy were peaceful, but his rule became autocratic and he punished harshly monks who were disobedient or who protested against his policies. His building projects were regarded by some of the community as superfluous. Of these the most significant was the westward extension of the Abbey Church at Fulda (see Fulda §1). This grandiose scheme sought to imitate Old St Peter’s and other churches in Rome and produced one of the largest churches in the Carolingian empire, more than doubling the size of the building reconstructed under Baugulf. The building works diverted the monks from their other duties and impoverished the community. Ratgar’s solution to the financial problem was to build proprietorial churches on the Abbey’s estates in order to claim their tithes. This further alienated the monks, who complained to Charlemagne in 812 and finally revolted in 817. They appealed to Louis the Pious who banished Ratgar. He died at a daughter house near Fulda....