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Article

Astrology in medieval art  

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

Gioffredo, Mario Gaetano  

Alice Dugdale

(b Naples, May 14, 1718; d Naples, March 8, 1785).

Italian architect and theorist. He began his training in 1732 with the architect Martino Buoncore, whose style he later dismissed as ‘Gothic’. However, Buoncore had a good architectural library, in which Gioffredo studied the writings of Palladio, Vitruvius and Vincenzo Scamozzi. During the same period he studied with the painter Francesco Solimena, believing an understanding of the human body to be an essential part of architecture.

Gioffredo qualified as an architect in 1741, after being examined by Giovanni Antonio Medrano (b 1703), one of the kingdom’s engineers. Unfortunately his technical education was somewhat neglected, and he earned for himself the sobriquet ‘l’imprudente architetto napoletano’ after Luigi Vanvitelli was called in to work on his Villa Campolieto (1762), Resina, and the Palazzo Casacalenda (c. 1766), Naples, both of which were in danger of collapse.

Gioffredo’s architectural knowledge was largely acquired from books and from the direct study of ancient buildings. In the preface to his ...

Article

Grössinger, Christa  

Betsy L. Chunko

(Maria)

(b Höhr-Grenzhausen, Westerwald, May 8, 1942; d Manchester, March 14, 2008).

German scholar of late medieval and early Renaissance art of northern Europe, active in the UK. Born in Germany, she relocated with her family to Northern Ireland at the age of 12. In 1963, she earned a BA in German from Queen’s University, Belfast. From 1964 to 1972, she worked towards her PhD at the University of Vienna under Otto Pächt and Otto Demus. During this time she spent a year researching at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London on an Austria Council Scholarship. In 1972, she submitted her thesis, which traced the stylistic development of 13th- and 14th-century misericords. Also in 1972, she began a lectureship in the Art History department of Manchester University, which she would maintain for the rest of her career. From 1998, she served as Senior Lecturer at Manchester and in 2004, she was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Grössinger wrote four monographs and numerous periodical articles over her career. Most of her scholarship concerned medieval church furniture; she was an expert on English misericords—the subject of her best-known work, ...

Article

Koehler, Wilhelm Reinhold Walter  

Dagmar Preising

(b Reval, 1884; d Munich, Nov 3, 1959).

German art historian. After graduating from Strasbourg and Bonn, he studied in Vienna from 1904 to 1907, under Franz Wickhoff and Max Dvořák. His first academic treatise was on the Italian Renaissance. In 1908 he was commissioned by the Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft to do research into Carolingian miniatures. This became his life’s work and, although he died before completing the study, it remains of fundamental importance to international art history. By 1914 he had finished collecting extensive material for the first volume, Die Schule von Tours, but World War I and its aftermath prevented publication until 1930–33. During the war he worked in Belgium on Carolingian works of art; this research was published in Belgische Kunstdenkmäler, edited by Paul Clemen (Munich, 1923). In 1918 Koehler was appointed director of the Kunstsammlungen at Weimar, and from 1923 he also worked at the University of Jena, first as lecturer then, from ...

Article

Lechler [Lacher], Lorenz  

Lon R. Shelby

(b c. 1460; d after 1516).

German architect, sculptor, and military engineer.

On 23 June 1489 the Milan City Council rejected a recommendation from Simon Brunus, German, that ‘Master Laurentius, engineer’ should come to Milan for the task of completing the tiburium (?ciborium, baldacchino) for the cathedral. It has generally been thought that this letter referred to Lorenz Lechler, for on 25 August 1489 the City Council of Esslingen (near Stuttgart) also recommended Lechler to the Milanese for the completion of their cathedral. Lechler had constructed the sacrament house and choir-screen for St Dionysius, Esslingen, and he was commended to the Milanese for his ‘ingenuity, industry, and art’.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Lechler may have been involved with the construction of the sacrament house and choir-screen at Speyer Cathedral in the late 1490s. In 1509 he was called back to Speyer to supervise the completion of the Mount of Olives located just outside and south of the cathedral nave, which had been begun by ...

Article

Mappa mundi  

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

Meiss, Millard  

Edith W. Kirsch

(b Cincinnati, March 25, 1904; d Princeton, June 12, 1975).

American art historian. He was educated at the universities of Princeton (BA) and New York (MA, PhD), lecturing at the latter from 1931 to 1933. He subsequently became Lecturer and finally Professor of Fine Arts and Archaeology at Columbia University (1934–53); Professor as well as Curator of Paintings at the Fogg Museum, Harvard University (1954–8); Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, from 1958 to 1975. He was editor of the Art Bulletin from 1940 to 1942, an honorary trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Medieval Academy of America, receiving the Haskins Medal in 1953; he was also a corresponding member of a number of foreign societies, including the British Academy, the Société des Antiquaires de France and the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence. A student of ...

Article

Molinier, Emile  

Bertrand Jestaz

(b Nantes, April 26, 1857; d Paris, May 5, 1906).

French art historian, museum curator and dealer. Under the influence of his brother Auguste Molinier (1851–1904), a great medievalist scholar, he trained at the Ecole des Chartes (1875–8) in Paris and then worked for a year in the Cabinet des Estampes at the Bibliothèque Nationale, before joining the Département des Objets d’art at the Louvre in 1879. He became a curator noted for his erudition, energy and perspicacity. On leaving the Ecole des Chartes, he at first edited medieval texts but soon turned to the history of the decorative arts and, without abandoning his study of the Middle Ages, developed a passion for the Italian Renaissance, publishing such works as Les Plaquettes (Paris, 1886), a pioneer study of the art form, which has remained indispensable. At the same time he compiled many catalogues of works of art, in the Louvre and other collections, including the ...

Article

Panofsky, Erwin  

Michael Podro

(b Hannover, March 30, 1892; d Princeton, NJ, March 14, 1968).

German art historian, active in the USA. He wrote primarily on late medieval and Renaissance art in northern Europe and Italy, mostly, but by no means exclusively, on painting.

Panofsky’s doctoral dissertation (1915) was on the relation of Dürer’s theory of art to that in Renaissance Italy; in 1923 he and Fritz Saxl published a study of Dürer’s engraving Melencolia I. In 1926 he became the first professor of art history at the new university of Hamburg, where he was closely involved with Ernst Cassirer (1874–1945), the professor of philosophy, and with Saxl and Aby Warburg at the Bibliothek Warburg. Panofsky’s name is often narrowly associated with the search for the subject-matter of paintings through reference to traditional imagery and literature. However, his writing always involved a much more ambitious and coherent mode of critical interpretation: he sought consistently to place individual works of art in relation to what he took to be an underlying aspect of the human situation, the reciprocity between ‘objectivity’—our receptive relation to the external world—and ‘subjectivity’—the constructive activity of our thought....

Article

Sagredo, Diego de  

Fernando Marías

(b Burgos, c.1490; d Toledo, before June 5, 1528).

Spanish writer. He studied at Alcalá de Henares (1512–15) and in 1517 became priest and chaplain there to Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros and possibly to Queen Joanna. Sagredo travelled in Italy between 1518 and 1521, before joining Toledo Cathedral in 1522. From 1524 he received a semi-prebend from the cathedral, and in 1527 he became the cathedral librarian, working as a designer of temporary structures and feast day organizer. Under the protection of Archbishop Alonso de Fonseca y Acevedo, to whom he dedicated his treatise and for whom he acted as Inspector of Works at the archiepiscopal palace of Alcalá de Henares, Sagredo obtained royal permission in 1524 to publish his Medidas del Romano (Toledo, 1526). Five further editions in Castilian followed by 1564, and the text was translated into French and printed seven times between c. 1537 and 1608. Already in the first French edition a series of paragraphs and illustrations was added on intercolumnar dimensions, arcades, and pedestals (with woodcuts showing the ‘entire’ orders): these were then used in the subsequent Spanish editions....

Article

Schmuttermayer, Hanns  

Lon R. Shelby

[Hans]

(fl 1487; d after 1518).

German goldsmith. Because Schmuttermayer wrote a booklet on pinnacles (Fialenbüchlein), published in Nuremberg in the late 1480s, most scholars have assumed he was a master mason. But although in his prologue he mentioned ‘other great and famous masters, such as the Junkers of Prague’, by which he meant the Parler family of master masons, he did not state his own profession.

In the late 1480s Schmuttermayer’s name began to appear regularly in the court records of Nuremberg, and the first references to him intimated that he was a goldsmith. In 1487 he was sued by a woman who claimed that he had a silver cane that belonged to her. In the same year Hermann Laisner certified that he owed money to Albrecht Dürer and Hanns Schmuttermayer. This was probably Albrecht Dürer the elder, who was a goldsmith and father of the famous artist. In 1489 a financial agreement was recorded between Hanns Schmuttermayer, ...