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Peter Strieder

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Mathieu Hériard Dubreuil

[Gil Master]

(b ?Mallorca; fl 1408–47).

Spanish painter. First documented in Valencia in 1408, he was active as a painter in Barcelona in 1415, in Mallorca in 1420 (described as ‘painter of Majorca’), in Valencia between 1421 and 1432 and in Mallorca from 1433; he is last recorded in Mallorca in 1447. Of his documented commissions, only two fragmentary works can be identified: the wings of an altarpiece of St Michael (Lyon, Mus. B.-A.), painted in 1421 for the town of Jérica (Valencia), and two predella panels of the Death of the Virgin and St Thomas Receiving the Virgin’s Girdle from an altarpiece of the Virgin executed in 1442 in Mallorca (Alcudia, Mus. Parroq.). Other works have been attributed to Alcanyis on the basis of stylistic comparisons with these panels, and he has been identified as the Gil Master, an artist named after the fragmentary altarpiece—consisting of an Ascension and St Vincent (both New York, Hisp. Soc. America) and a ...

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Alcaraz  

Gordon Campbell

Spanish centre of carpet production in Murcia. Alcaraz was one of the two principal centres (together with Cuenca) of carpet production in 15th- and 16th-century Spain. The hand-knotted carpets are tied with a single-warp symmetrical knot (known as the Spanish knot) on an undyed woollen foundation. Several surviving 15th-century examples imitate Turkish carpets of the ‘Holbein’ variety, but the colouring is often different (Turkish red being replaced by blue and gold) and in the borders the Kufic inscriptions are replaced by geometrical or floral patterns. In the 16th century the red colouring became less vivid, possibly because of problems with the cochineal dye imported from Mexico. There was considerable variety of design, but in the 15th century the most common pattern consisted of wheels in rectangular compartments; in the 16th century the wheels softened into wreaths and the compartments assumed a variety of shapes or disappeared altogether.

A. Bartolomé Ariza...

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Alchemy  

Laurinda Dixon

Ancient science from which modern chemistry evolved. Based on the concept of transmutation—the changing of substances at the elemental level—it was both a mechanical art and an exalted philosophy. Practitioners attempted to combine substances containing the four elements (fire, water, earth, and air) in perfect balance, ultimately perfecting them into a fifth, the quintessence (also known as the philosopher’s stone) via the chemical process of distillation. The ultimate result was a substance, the ‘philosopher’s stone’, or ‘elixir of life’, believed capable of perfecting, or healing, all material things. Chemists imitated the Christian life cycle in their operations, allegorically marrying their ingredients, multiplying them, and destroying them so that they could then be cleansed and ‘resurrected’. They viewed their work as a means of attaining salvation and as a solemn Christian duty. As such, spiritual alchemy was sanctioned, legitimized, and patronized by the Church. Its mundane laboratory procedures were also supported by secular rulers for material gain. Metallurgists employed chemical apparatus in their attempts to transmute base metals into gold, whereas physicians and apothecaries sought ultimately to distill a cure-all elixir of life. The manifold possibilities inherent in such an outcome caused Papal and secular authorities to limit and control the practice of alchemy by requiring licences and punishing those who worked without authorization....

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[Jehan; Giovanni]

(fl 1382–1411).

Writer, active in Paris. Between 1382 and 1410 he travelled to Italy on a number of occasions, where he collected recipes for the manufacture of pigments and other techniques from the artists that he met. He also borrowed manuals or handbooks on the washing, purifying and grinding of colours to assist him in his research. In 1431 his collection of recipes was obtained by Jehan Le Bègue (1368–after 1431), a licentiate in the law and notary to the Master of the Mint in Paris. Le Bègue copied out the recipes in his own hand and incorporated them in two sections (De coloribus diversis modis tractatur and De diversis coloribus) into a collection of texts discussing the practice of painting, entitled Experimenta de coloribus (Paris, Bib. N., MS. 6741), first published in 1849 (trans. M. Merrifield). Le Bègue’s compilation begins with a glossary of terms, mostly taken from Alcherius and the ...

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Gordon Campbell

Style of late 15th- and early 16th- century North Italian bookbinding associated with Aldus Manutius but not restricted to the publications of the Aldine Press. The design of the bindings, which were usually in brown or red morocco, was relatively simple, consisting of geometrical strapwork or rectangular panels of gold fillets. The arabesques in the corners of the panels are called ‘Aldine fleurons’ or ‘Aldine knot leaves’....

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(b c. 1398; d c. 1468).

Sculptor, possibly of Netherlandish or German origin (Sp. alemán: ‘German’), active in Spain. He worked on the Puerta de los Leones on the south transept of Toledo Cathedral, which was begun in 1452 under the direction of the Master of the Works, Hanequin de Bruselas. The portal is important because it establishes Netherlandish influence in Toledo from the middle of the 15th century. Juan Alemán collaborated on the portal with Egas Cueman and Francisco de la Cuevas, but he was given the commission for the most important sculptures: the statues of four Apostles, the three Marys and Nicodemus (for the embrasures) and twenty-four angel groups (for the archivolts). His style shows strong German influence, seen in the accentuated, metallic drapery folds, which impart strong chiaroscuro effects and add to the nobility of the stylized figures. The tympanum of the inner portal, depicting the Tree of Jesse, must also be by Juan Alemán; it includes the original iconographic motif of the tree sprouting from Jesse’s cheek. He probably carved the ...

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José María Azcárate Ristori

(fl 1485; d before 1512).

Spanish wood-carver. He was the most important wood-carver in Toledo in the last decade of the 15th century. His family name was probably Duque, because he is named Rodrigo Duque in a document of Sigüenza Cathedral (Guadalajara). He is first recorded in 1485 in connection with the lower choir-stalls of Toledo Cathedral, which were completed in 1495. The ornamental detail is carefully executed and shows Lower Rhenish stylistic characteristics. The unusual iconography of the 52 stalls represents events in the reconquest of Granada from the Moors, according to accounts of contemporary chroniclers (notably Fernando del Pulgar). The narrative is brisk and lively and enriched by the inclusion of realistic incidents. Alemán was next commissioned to execute the central section of the base of the high altar retable in Toledo Cathedral, which bears fine ornamental carving.

From 1497 Alemán worked simultaneously on the magnificent choir-stalls in the cathedrals of Plasencia (Cáceres) and Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca). The former include portraits of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and animated biblical scenes, while the latter are dominated by tracery. Alemán probably also provided designs or contributed to the initial stages of work on the choir-stalls of Zamora Cathedral. In ...

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Jeannette Towey

(b Göttweich, Austria, c. 1430; d Ascoli Piceno, the Marches, between Sept 18, 1497 and Nov 22, 1498).

Italian painter of Austrian birth. He is first documented in 1477 in his adopted home of Ascoli Piceno. A badly preserved fresco of the Virgin and Child with Saints in the church of the Madonna delle Rose in Torre San Patrizio, near Ascoli, has been attributed to him; it is dated 1466, providing possible evidence of his presence in the area two years before his master, Carlo Crivelli, was first documented there. Alemanno’s style was based on Crivelli’s work of the 1470s and hardly evolved at all throughout his career. His expressionistic, anatomical distortion may be derived from Giorgio Schiavone. The Virgin and Child Enthroned and the St Lucy (both Montefortino, Pin. Com.), which formed part of a dismembered polyptych dating from c. 1470, are typical of his work, with their dark outlines and strong hatching in both shadows and highlights.

Alemanno produced mostly polyptychs with the Virgin and Child enthroned, framed by standing saints on separate panels, or small-scale, half-length Virgin and Child pictures, ultimately deriving in form from similar compositions by Donatello. An exception is the ...

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Samo Štefanac

[Aleši, Andrija; Alexii, Andreas; Andrea di Niccolò da Durazzo]

(b Dürres, c. 1425; d Split, 1504).

Dalmatian sculptor and architect of Albanian birth. Although he is recorded in 1435 at Zadar as a pupil of Marco di Pietro da Troia, his most important artistic influence was the Late Gothic style of Giorgio da Sebenico, with whom he worked in 1445 on Šibenik Cathedral and in 1452 at Ancona on the Loggia dei Mercanti. Between 1448 and 1460 Alessi also controlled his own workshop at Split and Rab. In 1466 he began work on his masterpiece, the baptistery at Trogir, which was finished in 1467. The chapel is rectangular in plan, covered with a barrel vault with acute angled coffers; its richly decorated interior is an eclectic blend of Late Gothic and Renaissance elements. The sculpture shares these characteristics: the Baptism of Christ over the entrance, with its elongated figures and complex drapery patterns, derives from Giorgio da Sebenico’s mannered style, while St Jerome in the Desert...

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Cecilia Alessi

(b ?Montalcino, 1421; d Siena, after 1491).

Italian painter. In 1453 he was living in Siena in the district called the Chompagnia di Realto et Chartagine, where he had a painter’s studio (‘buttiba de l’arte de dipentori’; Siena, Pal. Piccolomini, Archv Stato, Lira, MS. 139.c.50). He was chiefly employed by the Sienese Republic but also worked for Pope Pius II in 1460 (see Müntz), for the diplomat Leonardo Benvoglienti, for the Ottieri della Ciaia family and for Sinolfo di Castellottieri. In 1455 Alfei was paid by the magistrates of Siena for his painting of Monte Argentario near Orbetello (Siena, Pal. Piccolomini, Archv Stato, Balia, MS. 1.c.215), work that Alessi suggests may be recognized in the Town by the Sea and the Castle by the Sea (both Siena, Pin. N.), previously attributed to Ambrogio Lorenzetti and to Sassetta. In 1473 the Sienese Republic recommended Alfei to the papal legate, Cardinal Roverella, on the occasion of the artist’s visit to the Marches; the Cardinal’s reply confirms that Alfei executed works there. Alessi and Scapecchi have proposed that the anonymous ...

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Joan Isobel Friedman and A. Bustamante García

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