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Article

Armadio  

Gordon Campbell

Italian cupboard, used in the 15th century to denote a Cassone with doors instead of a lid, and thereafter a large two-storeyed cupboard. An example from the 1730s in the oratory of S Giuseppe in Urbino is decorated with a thickly impastoed imaginary landscape by Alessio de Marchis (1684–1752...

Article

Basilio Pavón Maldonado

Spanish term for a type of intricately joined wooden ceiling in which supplementary laths are interlaced into the rafters supporting the roof to form decorative geometric patterns (see fig.). Artesonado ceilings were popular in the Islamic architecture of North Africa and Spain from the 13th to the 15th century and were also used widely in Jewish and Christian architecture. They continued to be popular into the 16th century when they were effectively integrated with Renaissance motifs.

Artesonado ceilings developed from horizontal coffered ceilings, which were used in Spanish Islamic architecture as early as the 10th century ad (see Islamic art, §II, 5(iv)). The Umayyad caliph al-Hakam II (reg 961–76) ordered a carved and painted coffered ceiling for the Great Mosque of Córdoba (see Córdoba, §3, (i), (a)). It was suspended from the ceiling joists and tie-beams of the pitched roofs covering the aisles. The halls of ...

Article

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

Gordon Campbell

[Antonio di Neri]

(b 1453; d 1516).

Italian intarsia designer, civil engineer, architect and engraver, was a native of Siena. From 1483 to 1502 he worked in Siena Cathedral, providing carving and intarsia for the choir-stalls in the chapel of San Giovanni (1483–1502; seven panels survive in La Collegiata in San Quirico d’Orcia and one in the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Vienna) and building the benches for the Piccolomini library (...

Article

Cassone  

Ellen Callmann and J. W. Taylor

[It.: ‘chest’]

Term used for large, lavishly decorated chests made in Italy from the 14th century to the end of the 16th. The word is an anachronism, taken from Vasari (2/1568, ed. G. Milanesi, 1878–85, ii, p. 148), the 15th-century term being forziero. Wealthy households needed many chests, but the ornate cassoni, painted and often combined with pastiglia decoration, were usually commissioned in pairs when a house was renovated for a newly married couple and were ordered, together with other furnishings, by the groom. Florence was the main centre of production, though cassoni were also produced in Siena and occasionally in the Veneto and elsewhere.

The earliest cassoni were simple structures with rounded lids, probably painted in solid colours, such as the red cassone in Giotto’s Annunciation to St Anne (c. 1305; Padua, Arena Chapel). The earliest known chests with painted designs are all from the same shop (e.g. Florence, Pal. Davanzati, inv. mob. 162). Like the much more numerous contemporary chests with gilded low-relief in pastiglia (...

Article

Danielle B. Joyner

From the time John Cassian established the first female foundation in Marseille in ad 410, monastic women lived in varying states of enclosure and were surrounded by diverse images and objects that contributed to their devotion, education and livelihood. The first rule for women, written in 512 by St Caesarius of Arles, emphasized their strict separation from men and the world, as did the Periculoso, a directive issued by Pope Boniface VIII (reg 1294–1303) in 1298. Various architectural solutions developed throughout the Middle Ages to reconcile the necessities of enclosure with the access required by male clerics to celebrate Mass and provide pastoral care. Nuns’ choirs, where the women would gather for their daily prayers, were often constructed as discreet spaces in the church, which allowed women to hear or see the Mass without interacting with the cleric, as in the 10th-century choir in the eastern transept gallery at St Cyriakus in Gernrode, Germany. In some Cistercian examples, the nuns’ choir appeared at the west end of the nave. Dominican and Franciscan architecture was largely varied. Double monasteries, which housed men and women, also required careful construction. A 7th-century text describing the church of St Brigida in ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Nuremberg, c. 1485; d Nuremberg, 1542).

German locksmith and horologist, active in Nuremberg. The accuracy of his clocks was considerably enhanced by his invention of the mainspring in about 1510. His portable clocks, which were shaped like small boxes and were intended to be hung from the belt, were the predecessors of the pocket watch. One of his box clocks, now in the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel, is known as the Egg of Nuremberg; versions of this clock manufactured in Nuremberg after Henlein’s death were popularly known as Nuremberg eggs (...

Article

Mara Visonà

[Giovanni di ser Giovanni Guidi]

(b San Giovanni Valdarno, nr Arezzo, 1406; d Florence, Nov 1, 1486).

Italian painter. The son of a notary, grandson of Mone di Andreuccio who practised the art of cassaio (furniture maker) in Castel San Giovanni, and younger brother of Masaccio, he spent some time as a mercenary soldier. From December 1420 and through the following year Giovanni is recorded in Florence in the workshop of Bicci di Lorenzo. In 1426 he is mentioned in the estimo and in 1427 in the catasto (land registry declaration) written jointly with his brother. Surviving documents and works suggest that he was in close collaboration with Masaccio’s workshop. In October 1426 he appears as guarantor of Masaccio in an agreement for the completion of the altarpiece of the Carmine church in Pisa. In 1427 he shared Masaccio’s workshop in the Piazza Sant’ Apollinare (now San Firenze). In 1429 Giovanni paid a three soldi tax based on his own professional activity. In 1430 he enrolled in the Compagnia di S Luca, where he appears as Scheggia (‘Splinter’), a nickname given in Tuscany to individuals of slight stature or who are somehow connected with wood....