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Aleotti, Giovanni Battista  

Alessandra Frabetti


(b Argenta, nr Ferrara, 1546; d Ferrara, Dec 9, 1636).

Italian architect, engineer and designer. He was the son of Vincenzo Aleotti (not Francesco Aleotti, as is sometimes erroneously stated), from whom Giovanni Battista claimed he ‘learnt the art … as much as from all the other teachers I had’ (letter, 1583; see Coffin, p. 121). In 1575 he succeeded Galasso Alghisi as architect to Alfonso II d’Este (ii), Duke of Ferrara and Modena, who nicknamed him l’Argenta after the town of his birth. When, on the death of the Duke, the Este duchy devolved to the Papal States (1598), Aleotti was confirmed as official architect, with a stipend of 20 scudi per month. His activity extended to various parts of the Po plain, embracing different architectural genres and including some important urban projects.

Among Aleotti’s religious buildings were several churches in Ferrara, including S Barbara (1586–8), S Maria della Rotonda at Castel Tedaldo (1597...


Blondeel, Lanceloot  

Paul Huvenne


(b ?Poperinghe, 1488; d Bruges, bur March 4, 1581).

South Netherlandish painter, draughtsman, designer, architect, civil engineer, cartographer and engraver. He is said to have trained as a bricklayer, and the trowel he used to add as his housemark next to his monogram lab testifies to this and to his pretensions as an architectural designer. In 1519 he was registered as a master painter in the Bruges Guild of St Luke, where he chose as his speciality painting on canvas. The following year he collaborated with the little-known painter Willem Cornu in designing and executing 12 scenes for the Triumphal Entry of Emperor Charles V into Bruges. From then onwards Blondeel received regular commissions, mainly as a designer and organizer. Records of legal actions show that he was sometimes late with commissions; he took seven years to execute a Last Judgement ordered in 1540 for the council chamber at Blankenberge, and in 1545 the Guild of St Luke summoned him for his failure to supply their guild banner on time. Blondeel was married to Kathelyne, sister of the wood-carver ...


Buontalenti, Bernardo  

Alice Dugdale

[Bernardo delle Girandole]

(b Florence, c. 1531; d Florence, June 6, 1608).

Italian architect, engineer, designer, painter and inventor. He was one of the great Renaissance polymaths and was not only admired but also liked by his contemporaries. A friend of princes, he spent most of his life at the Tuscan court, but his influence stretched throughout Europe.

After his parents were drowned, he was brought up at the court of Cosimo I de’ Medici. As an apprentice he trained first with Francesco Salviati, then with Agnolo Bronzino, Vasari, Giorgio and finally Don Giulio Clovio. His education must have been broadly based, as he was appointed tutor at the age of 15 to the future Francesco I de’ Medici, to whom he taught not only drawing, colouring and perspective but also architecture and engineering. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, in which they shared a passionate interest in the natural sciences.

Buontalenti’s earliest known work was a wooden crucifix (destr.) for the church of S Maria degli Angeli, Florence. On ...


Laureti [Lauretti], Tommaso  

Martin Kemp


(b Palermo, ?1530; d Rome, 1602).

Italian painter, designer and engineer. A pupil of Sebastiano del Piombo, he spent his formative years in Bologna in the circle of Ignazio Danti. He was working there between 1563, if not earlier, and 1582, though he was recorded as working in 1579 for Alfonso II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. He was closely involved in redesigning the Piazza Nettuno in Bologna, providing the designs and the hydraulic engineering for fountains, one of which—the Fountain of Neptune (1566)—was adorned with bronze sculptures by Giambologna, while the Fonte Vecchia (1565) was undertaken by Laureti in collaboration with Giacomo della Porta.

Laureti’s major religious paintings were executed for the church of S Giacomo Maggiore, including altarpieces of Christ with SS James and Augustine (1574) and the Virgin and Child with SS William of Gallone, Duke of Aquitaine, Agatha and Cecilia (1580–82), and decorations showing St Augustine’s Funeral Procession...


Leonardo da Vinci  

Martin Kemp

(b Anchiano, nr Vinci, April 15, 1452; d Amboise, nr Tours, May 2, 1519).

Italian painter, sculptor, architect, designer, theorist, engineer and scientist. He was the founding father of what is called the High Renaissance style and exercised an enormous influence on contemporary and later artists. His writings on art helped establish the ideals of representation and expression that were to dominate European academies for the next 400 years. The standards he set in figure draughtsmanship, handling of space, depiction of light and shade, representation of landscape, evocation of character and techniques of narrative radically transformed the range of art. A number of his inventions in architecture and in various fields of decoration entered the general currency of 16th-century design.

Although he brought relatively few works to completion, and even fewer have survived, Leonardo was responsible for some of the most influential images in the history of art. The ‘Mona Lisa’ (Paris, Louvre) may fairly be described as the world’s most famous painting. When the extent of his writings on many branches of science became increasingly apparent during the 19th century, he appeared to epitomize the idea of the universal genius and was hailed as one of the prophets of the modern era. More recent assessments of his intellectual achievements have recognized the medieval and Classical framework on which his theories were constructed but have done nothing to detract from the awesome range and intensity of his thought....


Sambin, Hugues  

Jacques Thirion

(b Gray, c. 1520; d Dijon, 1601).

French wood-carver, designer, architect and engineer. The son of the wood-carver Mammès Sambin, he is mentioned in 1544 in the woodworking accounts relating to the building of the château of Fontainebleau. His involvement in this project explains the strong Mannerist influence in all his work. He is recorded in Dijon in 1547, when he married the daughter of Jean Boudrillet, a maître-menuisier from Troyes. He worked from 15 May to 15 June 1548 with his father-in-law and two of his brothers, Guillaume Sambin and Claude Sambin, also wood-carvers, on decorations for the entry into Dijon of Henry II, King of France. In 1549 he became a maître-menuisier. In December 1551 he took part in the preparations for the entry into Dijon of the Duc d’Aumale, providing the designs for statues made by the sculptor Jean Damotte (d 1567). In that year he became master of the guild of ...