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Article

Thorsten Opper

In 1954 a large number of fragments of ancient plaster casts came to light in the Roman city of Baiae on the gulf of Naples. Of a total of 430 fragments, 293 were in a condition that allowed further analysis. This revealed that they originally belonged to a group of 24–35 full-length statues that formed a representative collection of plaster copies of Greek bronze originals (gods, heroes, mythological figures) mainly of the 5th and 4th centuries bc. Twelve of these statues could be identified through comparison with Roman marble copies (e.g. Tyrant Slayers, Ephesian Amazons, Athena Velletri, Westmacott Ephebe, Hera Borghese, Eirene and Ploutos). For others likely identifications have been suggested, but cannot be proven (e.g. Doryphoros). The Baiae plaster statues were technically highly accomplished (hollow-cast figures with internal armatures, probably the first casts produced from high-quality moulds), and are likely to have been imported, perhaps from a place such as Athens, where at least three of the originals were located....

Article

R. K. Morris

[Bellflower]

Globular shaped carving, typically of three stylized leaves clasping a small ball. The most distinctive ornament of English Decorated architecture (c. 1300–c. 1400; see Decorated style), ballflower is commonly employed in rows set in hollow mouldings, varying in diameter from 125 mm on towers to 30 mm on tombs and fittings. True ballflower should be distinguished from other types of globular ornament found occasionally in Late Romanesque and Early Gothic architecture in England and Normandy. Ballflower (sometimes ‘bellflower’) is an antiquarian term, suggesting analogies with a flower bud, or possibly with small bells, as on an animal collar. On the façade of Notre-Dame, Paris, is an early use of true ballflower (c. 1250) in which the ornament is evolved from stylized foliage crockets. Some examples in England are mixed with carved foliage tendrils or flowers (e.g. St Albans Cathedral, Lady chapel, c. 1320). Visually ballflower dissipates the lines of architectural forms, as exemplified by its popularity on great church towers (e.g. the cathedrals of ...

Article

Bamboo  

Frank Minney

Common name given to members of the variety Bambuseae of the grass family (Gramineae), found mainly in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Some 76 genera and over 1000 species have been described; one of the smallest is Arundinaria pygmaeus, which grows to c. 300–400 mm in height; the largest, the Himalayan Bambusa gigantea, can reach 30 m in height, with a diameter of 300 mm. Bamboo is an extremely versatile material that has a wide variety of uses in Africa, Asia and South America, including construction, food preparation and service, medicine, arms and armour, basketry, furniture making and paper making. Bamboo has long been associated with the arts in East Asia, where it is both the raw material for the implements of calligraphers and painters and a popular theme in literati ink-painting (see fig.; see also China, People’s Republic of, §V, 3, (vi)). As a decorative motif, it is ubiquitous, being found on lacquerware, metalwork and ceramics....

Article

Article

[low relief; It. basso-relievo]

Term for carving, embossing or casting that protrudes only moderately from the background plane (see Relief sculpture).

R. Polacco: ‘Porte e cancelli bronzei medioevali in S. Marco a Venezia’, Ven. A., 3 (1989), pp. 14–23B. Gallistl: Die Bronzetüren Bischof Bernwards Im Dom Zu Hildesheim (Freiberg, 1990)S. Salomi, ed.: Le porte di bronzo dall’Antichità al secolo XIII (Rome, 1990)E. Simi Varanelli: Artisti e dottori nel Medioevo: Il Campanile di Firenze e la rivalutazione delle ‘Arti Belle’ (Rome, 1995), pp. 192C. E. Gilbert: ‘The Pisa Baptistery Pulpit Addresses its Public’, Artibus et historiae, 21/41 (2000), pp. 9–30, 221P. Malgouyres: ‘Due medaglioni di Giovanni Bonazza ad Avignone’, Arte veneta, 57 (2000), pp. 74–5R. J. M. Olson: The Florentine Tondo (Oxford, 2000)A. Saviello: ‘Tugendhafte Eva: Die Frau-Kind-Gruppen in den Reliefs der Grabmalskapelle des heiligen Antonius von Padua’, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Instituts in Florenz, 49/3 (2005), pp. 323–52...

Article

Artists have depicted battle for almost as long as wars have been fought. This article deals with military themes in Western art from the 16th century, when distinct approaches to the subject were fully established, until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, after which the idealization of war in art was most forcefully rejected.

In Italy Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina (c. 1506) and Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari (1503–6; both untraced but known through copies and fragments of cartoons; see fig.) established a Renaissance tradition of the heroic battle piece, which was developed in Giulio Romano’s seminal fresco, the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (1523–4; Rome, Vatican, Sala di Costantino). This is a formal, almost abstract depiction of men and horses in violent conflict, and on a grand scale. It is deeply indebted to Classical sarcophagi and to Trajan’s column, from which it borrows many images to recreate a battle scene of the late Roman era. The semi-naked combatants, in Classical or gladiatorial clothing, struggle fiercely and apparently indiscriminately in bellicose poses, while Constantine, in Roman uniform, leads his Christian standards serenely through the carnage. The event was of great importance to church tradition and is aptly rendered in a mythical style. The fresco became widely known outside Italy from its preliminary drawings and subsequent engravings. ...

Article

Margaret Lyttleton

Carved enrichment consisting of a pattern of round or elliptical beads alternating with disks. It is the characteristic decoration for the small bead or astragal moulding in Classical architecture, which is semicircular in profile (see Orders, architectural, §I). Astragal mouldings with bead-and-reel enrichment are commonly found in all periods of Greek and Roman architecture (and their later derivatives), in which they form a division of the architrave or part of the architrave crown. In addition, a profile of this type usually decorates the echinus of Ionic capitals, where it is situated below the egg-and-dart enrichment of the ovolo profile (see Greece, ancient, fig.). Examples of its use can be seen in the capitals of the Temple of Artemis, Ephesos (c. 560– c. 460 bc), and in those of the Erechtheion, Athens (421–405 bc), as well as the ‘Corinthian-Doric’ temple at Paestum (...

Article

James F. King

Type of architectural ornament used from c. 1120 until the early 13th century, developed fully first in England and subsequently used throughout Europe. It enjoyed something of a revival during the 19th century. The motif consists of the carved head of a bird, beast or monster whose beak, tongue or jaw appears to grip a roll moulding. The predominant form is a bird’s head, hence the term ‘beakhead’. It is usually found, in series, on the voussoirs of doorways, chancel arches and windows, frequently on corbels and occasionally on vault ribs, arcading, capitals and fonts. Carved human heads are sometimes interspersed. A purely geometric, wedge-shaped form is also sometimes described as a beakhead. Examples of beakhead ornament survive at over 200 locations in Europe.

The beakhead was first used in south-west England c. 1120, but there is some disagreement over the first building to incorporate this form of decoration. Stalley suggested that it appeared first at ...

Article

Elizabeth Meredith Dowling

American organization dedicated to improving the quality of architectural education. Incorporated in 1916 by the architect Lloyd Warren (1867–1922), the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design (BAID) was an outgrowth of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects (SBAA; 1894–1942) established by his brother Whitney Warren (1864–1943) with Thomas Hastings and Ernest Flagg who had all studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and were nationally recognized American architects. BAID was dedicated to the improvement of architectural education by providing a centralized location for the distribution and judging of design problems. Architecture schools and private ateliers located throughout the United States developed projects based on the programs created by BAID. The student work was then sent to the headquarters in New York to be judged. An award system of medals and mentions cited the work considered most deserving by the jury of distinguished architects. The award winning projects published in ...

Article

Richard Guy Wilson

The term Beaux-Arts style has several interrelated meanings in connection with American architecture. Frequently it is employed as a stylistic label with reference to the vast array of buildings with classical details constructed in the United States between the 1880s and the 1940s such as the Henry G. Villard houses (1882–6), New York, by McKim, Mead & White and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (1937–43), Washington, DC, by John Russell Pope and Eggers & Higgins. Details on these and similar buildings employ forms and details from Greek, Roman and Renaissance sources. Beaux-Arts classicism can also refer to buildings with Georgian details that can also be labeled Colonial or Georgian Revival, along with the French château style as popularized in the William K. Vanderbilt house (1879–82), New York, by Hunt family §(2). The Court of Honor at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago brought the Beaux-Arts approach to prominence and impacted city planning as reflected in the McMillan Plan for Washington, DC (...

Article

H. B. J. Maginnis

A small painted panel, initially created as a cover for official documents of the civic government of Siena between the 13th and 17th centuries. The Italian word derives from the chief financial office of Siena, the Biccherna, a name that first appears at the beginning of the 13th century; it was supposedly inspired by the imperial treasury of the Blachernae Palace in Constantinople. The term has also been extended to designate painted covers and small panels connected with other Sienese civic offices and institutions, such as the tax office (Gabella), the hospital of S Maria della Scala, the Opera del Duomo and various lay confraternities. Most biccherne, however, are from the office of the Biccherna itself.

The officials of the Biccherna comprised a camarlingo, charged with expenditure on behalf of the Comune, and four provveditori, responsible for revenues and for approving disbursements. All officials were appointed for six-month terms, at the end of which the working accounts were transferred to parchment registers to be presented to the Consiglio Generale of Siena for inspection. Initially these were prepared as two distinct volumes: the ...

Article

Billet  

Freda Anderson

Ornamental device used extensively in the Romanesque period, particularly in the 12th century. It is formed of small blocks, either flat and square or cylindrical, spaced out in horizontal bands (see fig.). Billets in a single band occur frequently (e.g. the nave string course at Ely Cathedral; early 12th century), but are found less often in double bands (e.g. an impost in the crypt of Worcester Cathedral; from 1084). Their most common arrangement is in three bands: the blocks in the two lower bands are placed under the voids in the band above to give a chequerboard effect (e.g. the interior east windows of Paray-le-Monial Priory, France). Where there are more than three bands (e.g. the north portal of Charlieu Priory, France) the billets are tiny. Occasionally, as in the north portal of Fontgombault Abbey, billets are placed without voids, side by side.

Examples of billet ornament survive from the 6th century ...

Article

Ralph Hyde

Prints, drawings or paintings that incorporate high-level perspective: the viewer has the sensation of looking at the ground from the clouds. Views taken from just above roof-level and map-views—pictorial maps that have a consistent scale—fall outside this category. Bird’s-eye views have also been called ‘aeronautical views’, ‘balloon views’ and ‘aero-views’. The advantage of the high angle is that more detail can be displayed, as the foreground does not obscure the background. This has made the bird’s-eye view the ideal medium for representing battlefields, a purpose for which it was first used in the Classical period (see Rome, ancient, §IV, 1, (iv), (b)). It has also been found useful for depicting proposed urban developments, such as estates, docks and railways, and for landscape garden plans. It has been widely used for depicting palaces and country houses and, in the 19th century, for individual factories, the choice of the bird’s-eye medium being motivated by landlords’ and capitalists’ pride of ownership. Civic pride has contributed to the even more widespread use of the method for depicting towns and cities....

Article

Bistre  

Jonathan Stephenson

Warm brown, transparent pigment obtained by boiling the soot from a wood fire. It may also have been produced by burning resin or peat. Its history is uncertain, as references to the use of soot, even if they imply a brown colouring rather than a black, are often too vague to be associated with bistre. As well as being used as a watercolour, bistre tended to be used alone as a monochrome wash, and its name is associated with the shading of drawings in that way; however, the extent of its use is unclear because Van Dyck brown, Cologne earth, sepia and various inks all produce effects that are difficult to differentiate from bistre. It was listed by name in the 17th century by Sir Théodore Turquet de Mayerne (London, BL, MSS Sloane 1990 and 2052), although it was not mentioned with any frequency in England until the following century, when watercolour methods began to develop. Around the beginning of the 19th century it was eclipsed by sepia....

Article

Bitumen  

Rupert Featherstone

Dark brown solution of asphalt, a naturally occurring petroleum residue, dissolved in oil or turpentine and used as a brown oil paint from the 17th century to the 19th. It shows undesirable characteristics on ageing, as it never completely dries and, when applied in thick films, forms a network of broad cracks resembling an alligator’s skin, revealing the ground colour below. The use of bitumen is evident in many paintings by ...

Article

Rupert Featherstone

Ready-mixed oil paints, prepared commercially and contained in a bladder of animal membrane. The bladder was pierced and resealed with a tack of metal or bone, and the paint remained usable for several months. Bladder colours were available from the mid-17th century until the 1840s, when they were superseded by metallic tubes....

Article

Rupert Featherstone

Cloudy discoloration of an oil paint film caused by the breakdown of the binding medium or the pigment. The effect may occur within the film or on the surface below the varnish. Blanching is the result, among other things, of the action of moisture and heat (e.g. during lining), the action of solvents during cleaning or the chemical instability of certain pigments in oil....

Article

Seeping and spreading of one colour into another. Bleeding occurs with watercolour washes, when two colours are applied next to each other. In other forms of painting, bleeding can take place when an under layer of paint seeps through to the upper surface. It is in order to prevent this phenomenon that pigments used in oil painting must be insoluble in oil....

Article

Blender  

Rupert Featherstone

Article

John Thomas

Series of arches supported on columns or pilasters and set against a wall, with no openings beneath the arches. Blind arcading is a decorative device or means of articulation, which often has the effect of creating overall architectural consistency in a composition by spreading a motif or group of forms across an elevation, whether an opening—a window or portal—is involved or not, to produce an intelligible, harmonious whole. In Romanesque architecture it is common to find a series of oversailing arches (they have no columns or pilasters to support them but ‘hang’ in mid-air) either rising up a gable or set horizontally beneath a principal course or demarcation, for example on the west façades of S Zeno Maggiore (from c. 1138), Verona, and Lund Cathedral (from c. 1080). A development of this, and a true blind arcade, with shafts supported on corbels, can be seen on the west façade (after ...