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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

(b Verona, 1433; d Rome, July 1, 1515).

Italian engineer, architect, epigraphist, and scholar. He was much sought after for his technical skills, particularly his expertise in hydraulics and military engineering, while his wide-ranging interests in archaeology, theology, urban planning, and philology earned him the regard of his contemporaries; Vasari described him as ‘un uomo rarissimo ed universale’. He was almost certainly a Franciscan friar, but it is not known where he acquired his architectural training. Given his lifelong and profound study of Classical architecture and inscriptions, Vasari’s assertion that he spent time in Rome as a youth is plausible. One of his earliest endeavours was to compile a collection of Latin inscriptions. The first version (1478–c. 1489), which included drawings and was dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici, became an important and much-copied reference work; it was also a major source for the Corpus inscriptionum latinarum, the principal 19th-century compilation. A fine copy survives (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. Vat. lat. 10228), transcribed by Giocondo’s friend and sometime collaborator, the eminent Paduan calligrapher, ...

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

Peter Boutourline Young

[ Luca di Borgo ; Fra Luca di Borgo ]

(b Borgo San Sepolcro, c. 1445; d ?Rome, c. 1514).

Italian monk, scientist and writer . At an early age he settled in Venice, where he studied mathematics with Domenico Bragadino. Sometime between 1470 and 1476 he joined the Franciscan Order. In 1471 he was in Rome, staying with Leon Battista Alberti, while between 1472 and 1474 he was in Urbino, where he came into contact with Piero della Francesca, who depicted Pacioli, and perhaps other eminent artists and architects, in the S Bernardino altarpiece (Milan, Brera). Throughout his life he taught mathematics, in various universities including Perugia (from 1477), Florence, Rome and Naples. As a Franciscan, in 1493 he was summoned to Assisi by his religious superiors and threatened with excommunication because of his attitude as a free-thinker. However, he left almost immediately for Urbino, where, according to Bernardino Baldi, he received a particularly warm welcome.

Between 1496 and 1499 Pacioli was in Milan, where he met artists and scholars, including ...

Article

Clare Robertson

(b Verona, Feb 23, 1530; d Palermo, 7–8 April 1568).

Italian antiquarian and artistic adviser. He became an Augustinian monk at the age of 11. He was sent by Girolamo Seripando, General of the Order, to study in Naples between 1547 and 1549 before moving to Rome, where his precocious gifts as a historical writer and epigrapher recommended him to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. The Cardinal gave him a monthly retainer for the rest of his life and provided assistance for his antiquarian studies. Panvinio was particularly interested in portraiture and collected images to accompany his biographies of the popes (Venice, 1563). His own portrait (Rome, Gal. Colonna) was for many years attributed to Titian, but it has been suggested that it was an early work by Tintoretto. Like Annibal Caro and Fulvio Orsini, Panvinio was on occasion required to produce iconographic programmes for Cardinal Farnese’s fresco cycles, though he did so with less confidence than his fellow advisers. The only scheme by Panvinio to have survived is for an allegorical title-page, with many rather conventional personifications. He devised the scheme for the Stanza della Solitudine at the Villa Farnese, Caprarola, with considerable assistance from ...

Article

Jaynie Anderson

(b Dresden, Jan 7, 1847; d Lugano, Aug 25, 1937).

German art historian, collector and dealer. The son of a Lutheran clergyman, he first studied theology at Leipzig but while travelling in Italy in 1869 became interested in early Christian archaeology, in which field he determined to continue. His first publications were on the sources of Byzantine art history and the mosaics of Ravenna. In 1876 he met Giovanni Morelli, whose disciple he became. Their lengthy correspondence constitutes an important source for the early history of connoisseurship. Richter published a short biography of Leonardo in 1880, then a series of articles in the Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst and finally his edition of the Literary Works of Leonardo (1883), the work that established his reputation as a scholar. This was the first scholarly edition of Leonardo’s writings, illustrated, moreover, with a selection of mostly authentic drawings at a time when books on Leonardo were normally illustrated by his pupils’ works....

Article

(b Ferrara, Sept 21, 1452; d Florence, May 23, 1498).

Italian friar, preacher and writer. His grandfather was the famous author and physician Michele Savonarola (c. 1385–1464) and his father, Niccolò Savonarola, a prominent doctor at the court of Ferrara. In 1475 Savonarola left Ferrara and entered the Dominican monastery of S Domenico, Bologna, where he studied theology until 1479. He returned to Ferrara in 1481 to preach at the convent of the Angeli and made visits to Florence between 1482 and 1487. In 1487 he was appointed Master of Studies in the studium generale of S Domenico, Bologna. In 1490 he was transferred, at the request of Lorenzo the Magnificent, to S Marco in Florence and was made a prior there in 1491. As early as 1472 he had composed a canzone entitled De ruina mundi, berating the corruption of the world, a theme to which he often returned. In August 1495 he wrote the Compendium revelationum...

Article

Annie Cloulas

(b Sigüenza, c. 1544; d El Escorial, 1606).

Spanish Hieronymite monk, writer and critic. In the third part of the Historia de la Orden de San Jerónimo (1605) he recorded his thoughts on the building and decoration of the Escorial (see Escorial §2), where he had taken his vows on 4 May 1590. Sigüenza had to devise an artistic vocabulary to describe the innovations he witnessed at the Escorial. His writings represent a very early awareness of a specifically Spanish Renaissance in which art is subject to a spiritual and moral order and is not an end in itself but created to the glory of God and to enlighten the faithful.

Sigüenza considered that through his great undertaking of the Escorial (1563–84) Philip II (see Habsburg, House of family §II, (2)) had re-established the arts in Spain after centuries of barbarity and had revived ideals that had been lost since Antiquity, namely proportion, symmetry, measure and reason, which, he said, made the royal creation comparable to the Temple of Solomon, although not in any formal way. While Sigüenza’s views on the architecture of the Escorial are related mainly to Antiquity, his account of the paintings it contained shows a consideration of contemporary art. He approved of the paintings of ...