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Article

Peter L. Laurence

Although the theory and practice of renovating cities is ancient, and although the term is still used to refer to similar practices today, “urban renewal” typically refers to the large-scale, federally funded redevelopment projects that took place in US cities in the 1950s and 1960s. Such projects wrought dramatic physical transformations and caused controversial social upheaval. Urban renewal in this sense came into being with the US Housing Act of 1954, although it evolved out of a history of government-funded slum clearance and housing project construction dating back to the 1930s. Following two decades of slum clearance and model housing projects including First Houses (1935), Williamsburg Houses (1937) and Stuyvesant Town (1947), all in New York, the US Housing Act of 1949 was signed into law with broad political support due to a national postwar housing shortage. As the immediate legislative predecessor of urban renewal legislation, the Housing Act of ...

Article

Malcolm Bull

[Lat.: ‘as is painting so is poetry’]

The phrase is derived from the Ars poetica (361) of Horace (65–8 bc). It has subsequently been used to suggest a general similarity between the arts of painting (and sometimes, by extension, sculpture) and poetry. From the 16th to the 18th centuries it was the motto of theorists who wished to elevate the status of painting to that of poetry and the other liberal arts.

See also Paragone and Poetry and art.

In Horace the phrase ut pictura poesis introduces a specific analogy: repeated pleasure is afforded not by pictures that have to be scrutinized closely, but by those that can be appreciated at a distance; the same, Horace suggests, is true of poetry, in which broad effects are most successful. The distinction between paintings that are to be seen from different distances may have been derived from Aristotle, who used it as a parallel to the different forms of rhetoric appropriate to judicial enquiries and public assemblies (...

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Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts

In 

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Vanitas  

Hans J. Van Miegroet

[Lat.: ‘emptiness’]

Type of painting concerned with the fragility of man and his world of desires and pleasures in the face of the inevitability and finality of death. It is essentially a biblical term, referring to the vanity of earthly possessions: the corresponding Hebrew term means ‘smoke’ or ‘vapour’. The vanitas tradition, which also appears in Western literature and other representational arts, was a particularly important element in paintings in the Netherlands in the 17th century.

The term vanitas first appears in early 17th-century European inventories: like the term trompe l’oeil, it is used to describe a type of painted still-life (see Still-life §2). Vanitas comes from the passage in Ecclesiastes (1: 2) in which the Greek-inspired Hebrew superlative ‘vapour of vapours’ is used to indicate man’s insubstantiality. This is a vivid expression of the ‘vanity of vanities’ and of analogous biblical quotations explicitly asserting the weakness, fragility and transitory nature of human life compared with Time, the power of God and History (Psalms 39: 6–7; 94: 11; 102: 4–12; 103: 15–17; 109: 23; Ecclesiastes 41: 11 and Isaiah 40: 6–8)....

Article

Vault  

Francis Woodman

Usually a roof or ceiling in stone, concrete or some other material, constructed upon the principle of the arch. It may be semicircular or segmental in profile, or be made up of arches and segments of arches in various combinations. A vault will commonly have stones or blocks arranged concentrically in such a manner as to support each other in compression. The purpose of a vault is to provide a weather-proof and fireproof covering, even when surmounted by a wooden roof, and vaults are usually built in non-combustible materials, although they may sometimes be made of wood. Vaults have also had a deep symbolic significance: the emperor’s canopy in Imperial Rome, the Vault of Heaven in a Christian church, or simply as a demonstration of the financial power and status of a patron.

Because masonry vaults are especially difficult to construct over a wide span or at a great height, they are found only in more advanced architectural technologies. True masonry vaults occur in ancient ...

Article

Veduta  

John Wilton-Ely

[It.: ‘view’]

Term applied to a painting, drawing or print representing a landscape or town view that is largely topographical in conception, as opposed to the fantasy view or Capriccio. Artists who produced vedute are known as vedutisti. The veduta or souvenir view, with its origins in pilgrimage images of Rome from the later 16th century onwards, reached its peak as a genre in Italy during the era of the Grand Tour. Benefiting from such technical aids as the Camera obscura, particularly at the hand of Canaletto in Venice, it was also to reflect an increasing concern with the specifics of the observed natural world characteristic of the Enlightenment. During the latter half of the 18th century, with the revolutionary vision of Piranesi in Rome, the veduta was transformed into a vehicle for emotional responses to the visible world, especially of the surviving remains of antiquity. In this respect it contributed to the emergence of ...

Article

Vehicle  

Rupert Featherstone

[binding medium]

Liquid in which dry pigments are dispersed to make paint. The vehicle may modify the appearance of the pigments, as in oil acrylic and encaustic paints. In watercolour and casein paints, the vehicle has little visual effect and serves only to bind the pigments into a film and to adhere them to the support....

Article

Anthony D. King

[veranda]

Semi-enclosed space on one or more sides of a building, constructed either by extending the roof downwards and supporting it with pillars or by adding a separate pillared gallery to the side. The pillars may occasionally be linked by a balustrade or latticework. The verandah, particularly associated with European buildings in India and other colonial areas from the 18th century, has both social and climatic functions, providing a semi-private space and sheltering users and building from sun and rain.

The verandah is a typical feature of the dwellings of Europeans who moved from temperate zones to hotter climates and built houses designed to meet cultural expectations brought from their countries of origin. Even in elementary form, the verandah was not universally present in the indigenous building forms of those regions to which it was taken by European colonists. The term entered the English language from India (Hindi varandā), its origins probably either Spanish or Portuguese. The first recorded use is in ...

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Gordon Campbell

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Verso  

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Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts

In 

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Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts

In 

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Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts

In 

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Gordon Campbell

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Volute  

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Wedge-shaped stone in an arch ( see Arch, fig.i and Masonry, §III ).

E. Roberts: ‘Two Twelfth-century Voussoir Stones from Sopwell House, St. Albans’, Studies in Medieval Sculpture, Occas. Pap., n. s. 3 (1983), pp. 190–97 N. M. Cameron: ‘The Painted Romanesque Voussoir in Glasgow Cathedral’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association...

Article

Cathleen Hoeniger

Painting applied to a prepared wall surface.

Knowledge of wall painting techniques is growing rapidly as more murals are examined scientifically and conserved. It is becoming increasingly evident that methods varied, sometimes substantially, within one region or even within the practice of one artist from project to project. Consequently, this survey must be considered provisional, especially in regard to little-explored periods and locations. Documentary sources can help to establish broad conceptions about the methods and materials of a given era, but they may be difficult to interpret and can also be unreliable. Data from the scientific examination of works in situ or of fragments in the laboratory are essential to refine, expand, and correct these conceptions. The summary that follows represents a critical conflation of textual information, where available, with the more specific evidence from technical investigations.

At the outset, however, it is necessary to outline the various stages of a wall painting, the variations of which distinguish one technique from another. Of primary importance are the composition of the rendering or ...

Article

Wash  

Rupert Featherstone

Broad area of dilute Ink or transparent Watercolour applied by brush. Gradations of tone and colour can be achieved through successive applications of washes (see fig. on next page). The technique developed from medieval manuscript illumination and was used from the 14th century to give tone to pen-and-ink drawings. In watercolour painting the technique was most fully developed by the English watercolourists of the late 18th century. Washes have also been used by miniature painters on parchment or ivory since the 16th century....