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Claire Baines

(b Dec 12, 1479; d ?Bologna, c. April 1552).

Italian historian, topographer, writer and patron. He was a friar and first entered the Dominican Order at Forlì but was in Bologna from 1495 and was officially transferred to the monastery there in 1500. Alberti received an extensive grounding in humanist studies under the Bolognese rhetorician Giovanni Garzoni. After acting as companion to the head of the order, Tomaso de Vio Cajetan, Alberti was made Provinciale di Terra Santa in Rome in 1520. This included the role of travelling companion to Tomaso’s successor, Fra Silvestri da Ferrara (‘il Ferrariense’). His travels with Silvestri throughout Italy, including the islands, laid the foundations for his most important work, the Descrittione di tutta l’Italia (1550), modelled on the Italia illustrata of Flavio Biondo. It was reprinted many times: the Venice edition of 1561 was the first to include Alberti’s sections on the islands of Italy, which were not covered by Biondo; the Venice edition of ...

Article

[Luigi]

(b Venice, 1484; d Padua, May 8, 1566).

Italian architectural theorist, patron, humanist and architect. Inheriting his uncle’s estate in Padua, he combined the activities of a landowner with interests in literature, drama and architecture and became an important figure in the city’s humanist circle, which included Giovanni Maria Falconetto, Andrea Palladio, Giangiorgio Trissino and Barbaro family §(1). He encouraged Falconetto, previously a painter, into architecture, visiting Rome with him in 1522 and commissioning him to design his first works of architecture: two garden structures at his palazzo (now Palazzo Giustiniani) in the Via del Santo, Padua, a loggia for theatrical performances (1524) and the Odeon for musical performances (1530–33), both extant. The buildings derived from ancient Roman prototypes and followed their detailing closely; they formed a ‘forum’ in the courtyard. Although Cornaro may have helped in the design, it is more probable that his humanist interests influenced Falconetto. However, when Cornaro commissioned Falconetto to design the Villa dei Vescovi (now Villa Olcese, ...

Article

Jürgen Zimmer

(b Lugano, May 1, 1544; d Dresden, Sept 20, 1620).

Swiss sculptor, architect, painter, writer and collector, active in Germany. He was the son of Bernardinus Zamelinus Nosseni and Lucia Verda. His move to Dresden, via Florence, was organized by the intermediary Johann Albrecht von Sprintzenstein, and in 1575 he was appointed court sculptor, architect, painter and decorative artist on an annual salary of 400 taler. He was commissioned to exploit the sources of alabaster and marble in Saxony for the Electors Augustus and Christian I (reg 1586–91). In the following years Nosseni worked in the fields of sculpture and painting (including portraiture), made furniture and other stone and wooden objects for the royal art collection and designed buildings. He also devised triumphal processions, masked celebrations, allegorical plays and tournaments. The precious and semi-precious stones that he acquired were used for epitaphs, monuments, altars, sculptures and other works. It appears that he designed or conceived all these works but actually executed only a few of them. He created his own workshop, in which he employed Italian artists and craftsmen, whom he had engaged during a trip to Italy at the end of ...

Article

(bapt Bologna, June 28, 1529; d Bologna, June 3, 1592).

Italian painter, draughtsman, engraver and collector. His first biographer, Raffaele Borghini, records that he travelled to Rome with Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, returned briefly to Bologna, then made a second visit to Rome and stayed with Taddeo Zuccaro. Documentary evidence attests to his presence in Rome in June 1551. By 1560 Passarotti was established in Bologna, where he opened a workshop and joined the Compagnia delle Quattro Arti. His activity in these years as a prestigious portraitist of popes (e.g. portrait of Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni; c. 1572; Gotha, Mus. Nat.) and Roman cardinals, mentioned by Borghini, and his interest in anticaglie (miscellaneous antiquities), for example those sent to him from Rome on 9 September 1572, indicate his continued links with the capital.

The earliest documented Bolognese paintings by Passarotti show a pictorial language rooted in Emilian soil, clearly influenced by Correggio and Parmigianino, and his anatomical interest in powerful, acrobatic figures appears to be derived from the Bolognese works of Pellegrino Tibaldi. On the other hand, his minute, lively illustration of detail is reminiscent of the Flemish tradition. During his youthful visits to Rome, he may have encountered northern Romanists such as Marten de Vos, active there in the 1550s. In Bologna the painting school opened by Denys Calvaert in ...

Article

Monica Visioli

(b Cremona; d Cremona, May 19, 1512).

Italian nobleman, patron and ?architect . He belonged to a rich commercial family whose members had held prestigious positions in Cremona from the 13th century. In 1482, as executor of his uncle Andrea Raimondi’s will, he commissioned the master builder Guglielmo de Lera (d 1490), of a noted family of Cremonese builders, to construct the church and oratory of S Monica, Cremona, for the order of Augustinian nuns. In 1508 he commissioned Guglielmo’s brother, Bernardino de Lera ( fl c. 1477–1518), to renovate the choir and two adjacent chapels in the ancient church of S Francesco, Cremona, where he wished to be buried. The documents do not show who actually carried out the project, but some critics have attributed it to Eliseo himself, giving him the reputation of an architect. Two inscriptions (dated 1496) over the portal of Eliseo’s Palazzo Raimondi (completed 1490–99; façade begun 1495) in ...

Article

Malcolm Airs

(b Kingscliffe, Northants, c. 1565; d ?London, ?1655).

English surveyor and collector. Both his father and his grandfather were masons and he was brought into contact at an early age with the world of country house builders. A record that as a child in 1570 he laid the first stone in the rebuilding of Kirby Hall, Northants, suggests that his father, Thomas Thorpe, was Sir Humphrey Stafford’s principal mason for this important house. John’s younger brother, Thomas, also became a successful mason employed by the Office of Works and was the major contractor for the stonework at Blickling Hall, Norfolk (1619–23).

In 1582 John Thorpe entered the Royal Works, and for the next 19 years he served either as a clerk or as a storekeeper at various royal palaces in and around London. During this time he cultivated connections at court and developed his skills as a draughtsman. In 1601 he left the public service to set up on his own as a land- and building-surveyor. He enjoyed the patronage of numerous eminent clients. In addition to his private work he was engaged on various royal surveys from ...

Article

(b Vicenza, 1478; d Vicenza, 1550).

Italian writer, scholar, amateur architect, patron and teacher. He was an active and well-known man of letters who did much to promote the new learning and the principles of Renaissance architecture in the Veneto region, running an informal residential school mostly for the sons of the local aristocracy at his home near Vicenza, where his most famous pupil was Andrea Palladio. Trissino was a keen scholar of linguistics and rhetoric and was very familiar with both Greek and Latin texts. He attempted to revive the Greek epic and introduced Greek tragedy into Italy through his Sofonisba of 1514–15. Later he drew on Plautus and Pindar respectively for his comedy I Simillimi (1548) and his Canzoni. His interest in Greek forms of language culminated in his attempt to hellenize Italian spelling and pronunciation.

Trissino also produced books on grammar and an Ars Poetica and even tried to develop a common language in Italy. He also translated Horace and wrote pastoral and other poems in Latin. These include the heroic epic poem ...