Adriano Ghisetti Giavarina
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....
[Alari-Bonacolsi, Pier Jacopo di Antonio]
(b Mantua, c. 1460; d Gazzuolo, 1528).
Italian sculptor. An expert in goldsmith work, bronze sculpture and medals, he earned his nickname ‘Antico’ because of his ‘astonishing penetration of antiquity’ (Nesselrath). He achieved lasting fame through his small-scale re-creations (often also reinterpretations) of famous, but often fragmentary, statues of antiquity (e.g. the Apollo Belvedere, Rome, Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clementino, and the Spinario, Rome, Mus. Conserv.). Most of these bronze statuettes were made for the Gonzaga family, notably for Ludovico, Bishop of Mantua, and for Isabella d’Este, wife of Francesco II Gonzaga, 4th Marchese of Mantua. Antico also restored ancient marble statues and acted as an adviser to collectors.
A birth date of 1460 has been calculated on the basis of Antico’s earliest recorded commission (1479), and he is presumed to have been born in Mantua because his father, a butcher, owned a house there and he himself was granted the privilege of owning a stall in the meat market by Federico I Gonzaga, 3rd Marchese of Mantua. A training as a goldsmith is inferred from the fact that he began as a medallist in relief and in intaglio. In addition, he is documented (see below) as the maker of a pair of silver gilt vases and later demonstrated great skill at casting and chasing bronze statuettes, and at gilding and inlaying them with silver. His restoration of antique marble statues also implies an expertise in working that material, but nothing is known of how he acquired this skill....
John N. Lupia
Type of ewer, usually of metal, used for the washing of hands in a liturgical or domestic context. It is often zoomorphic in form and usually has two openings, one for filling with water and the other for pouring. In their original usage aquamanilia expressed the symbolic significance of the lavabo, the ritual washing of the hands by the priest before vesting, before the consecration of the Eucharist and after mass. The earliest production of aquamanilia is associated with Mosan art of the Meuse Valley in northern France, and with Lower Saxony in north-east Germany. The majority of surviving examples are made of a variety of bronze that resembles gold when polished, while nearly all those made of precious metals are known only from church inventories.
Church documents refer to aquamanilia as early as the 5th century, when canon regulations stipulated that on ordination the subdeacon should receive such a vessel. Various documents from the 5th century to the beginning of the 11th sometimes use the term to denote both the ewer and its basin. Sometime after the beginning of the 11th century the term became transferred to a type of vessel, usually in the shape of an animal (e.g. lion, stag, horse; ...
(b ?1436; ? bur Florence, Dec 12, 1487).
Italian goldsmith and engraver . According to Vasari, he was a follower of Maso Finiguerra and engraved a series of 19 prints after designs by Botticelli. These illustrate an edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy published in 1481. A group of prints in the same Fine Manner style is attributed to Baldini. His designs incorporate figures and motifs derived from Botticelli, Piero Pollaiuolo and also German printmakers, such as the Master E.S. and Martin Schongauer, but particularly from Finiguerra. Baldini’s Fine Manner style developed from Finiguerra’s niello print technique; the rendering of spatial recession in the large Judgement Hall of Pilate (435×598 mm) suggests it was designed by Finiguerra. With the other prints, however, it shares the decorative quality and emphasis on pattern characteristic of Baldini.
Prints attributed to Baldini include the series of Planets (c. 1465), based on northern woodcuts, and a series of Prophets and Sibyls (early 1470s), as adapted from the characters in a mystery play; the exotic costumes reflect those worn in festival processions. Antonio Bettini’s ...
Jill E. Carrington
(b Florence; fl 1434; d between 24 and Oct 29, 1453).
Italian sculptor and bronze-caster. According to Vasari, he was a disciple of Filippo Brunelleschi. He is first mentioned on 27 April 1434 as having completed a large wooden Crucifix (destr.) for S Margarita, Vigonza (Padua). Baroncelli is identified with the ‘Nicholo da Fiorenza’, who was paid from 15 December 1436 to 16 March 1437 for two tondi in the Santo, Padua; they are identified with two marble tondi with half-figures of saints, which flank the rear entry to the choir. In 1436 he was commissioned to make the monument to the Santasofia Family (destr.) in the Eremitani, Padua. This comprised statues of 10 professors, the recumbent effigy of Galeazzo Santasofia, 12 statues of pupils and four unspecified statues. It was still unfinished in 1446. On 27 January 1440 Baroncelli was commissioned to execute 25 figures in relief for the monument to Battista Sanguinacci in the Eremitani, but Sanguinacci was instead buried in the tomb of his grandfather Ilario, which was decorated with an equestrian statue and a God the Father (both destr.). On ...
John R. Melville-Jones
(b Vicenza, c. 1468; d Vicenza, 1546).
Italian gem-engraver, goldsmith and medallist. The most important part of his career was spent in Rome, where he worked for Clement VII and his successor Paul III. He also spent a short period in Venice, returning from there to Vicenza in 1530 and remaining in the latter city for most of the time until his death. In Rome he was a well-established member of artistic and literary circles, associating, for example, with Michelangelo and the humanist scholar Pietro Bembo. No specimens of his work as a goldsmith survive, but he is called ‘aurifex’ in contemporary documents and may have made the settings for his carved gems.
Belli specialized in cutting gems and crystal and in carving dies for coins and medals. Although his work demonstrates technical ability of the highest order, his talent was not an original one. His style followed that of his contemporaries working in the major arts or was governed by his study of ancient coins and gems. His best-known works are those made for his papal patrons, many consisting of or incorporating carvings in rock crystal or semiprecious stones. The most splendid of these is a silver-gilt casket adorned with 24 carvings in crystal showing scenes from the ...
(b ?Milan, c. 1465; d Milan, 1530).
Italian painter and architect. He was one of the leading artists in Milan in the early 16th century. His early training as a goldsmith may indicate a relatively late start to his activity as a painter, and none of his work may be dated before 1490. The style of his early work parallels that of such followers of Vincenzo Foppa as Bernardino Butinone, Bernardo Zenale and Giovanni Donato da Montorfano. He assumed the name Bramantino very early in his career, indicating that he was in close contact with Donato Bramante, whose influence is uppermost in his early work.
Bramantino’s earliest surviving painting is probably the Virgin and Child (Boston, MA, Mus. F.A.). It is an adaptation of a type of half-length Virgin with standing Christ Child well known in Milan. The linear emphasis and the dramatic treatment of light are aspects derived from Bramante’s work. Bramantino stressed graphic quality in this picture, and throughout his early work he was considerably influenced by Andrea Mantegna and by the visual aspects of prints. His ...
Malcolm W. Norris
A term used to describe any inscription, figure, shield of arms, or other device engraved for a commemorative purpose in flat sheet brass. It is found as early as 1486 in the will of William Norreys of Ash-next-Sandwich, Kent. Such memorials became established in 13th-century Europe as a very satisfactory form of inlay for a grave slab. They recorded the death and status of the deceased and, particularly important, attracted prayers for the soul in Purgatory. Monumental brasses are therefore usually found in churches.
Brasses were manufactured almost exclusively in north-western and central Europe, although they were exported as far south as Madeira. This form of monument was, as with tomb effigies, initially patronized by the higher clergy, although very occasionally royalty chose to be so represented. Examples are the brasses of Philip and John (destr.), sons of Louis VIII of France, formerly at Notre-Dame, Poissy, of Queen Margaret (...
[Pietro delle Campane]
(b ?Venice, c. 1460; d Venice, Oct 18, 1542).
Italian bronze-caster. During a period of revival in bronze-casting, he was trained in the workshop of Alvise Campanato in the parish of S Luca, Venice, establishing his own bronze foundry probably during the 1480s and becoming prominent as a caster of cannons. From 1504 to 1515, with Giovanni Alberghetti and ...
Mark M. Salton
(di Salvatore Filangieri) [Jean de; Jehan de]
(b Naples, before 1450; d after 1499).
Italian medallist and diplomat. He was descended from the Candida branch of a noble Neapolitan family. His father carried the title of Baron of San Niccolò. Although Candida spent most of his life in the diplomatic service of various patrons, and followed his medallic activity only as an amateur, his contribution to this branch of art is significant. Some of his medals may have been intended to further his career by flattering their sitters. After working for the Anjou family in Naples, in 1472 Candida became secretary to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and, after Charles’s death, to Maximilian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy from 1477–80. In 1473 he travelled to Venice in a vain attempt to win the services of Bartolommeo Colleoni for his master. Subsequently various other diplomatic missions took him to Rome, Naples and Milan.
Candida’s medallic style shows considerable diversity. It evolves through various phases from Burgundian to Italian (betraying the influence of ...
(b Mondonico, nr Pavia, c. 1452; d between Dec 6, 1526 and April 1, 1527).
Italian goldsmith, coin- and gem-engraver, jeweller, medallist and dealer. Son of the goldsmith Gian Maffeo Foppa, from 1480 he served at the Milanese court with his father, eventually becoming personal goldsmith and jeweller to Ludovico Sforza (il Moro), Duke of Milan. In 1487 Caradosso was in Florence, where his appraisal of an antique cornelian was highly esteemed. He worked in Hungary in the service of King Matthias Corvinus, probably in August 1489; a later visit to the court was cut short by the King’s death (1490). Between 1492 and 1497 Caradosso travelled to various Italian towns to buy jewels and other precious objects for Ludovico il Moro. He visited Rome, Viterbo and Florence early in 1496, when the Medici family’s possessions were sold off after the expulsion of Piero de’ Medici (1471–1503) from Florence.
After the fall of Ludovico il Moro in 1500, Caradosso remained for some years in Lombardy. In ...
Andrea S. Norris
(b Viadana, c. 1454; d after 1508).
Italian medallist, sculptor and goldsmith. He was the son of a notary, Andrea Cavalli. First recorded as a goldsmith in June 1481, he executed the foot of a large tabernacle dedicated to the feast of Corpus Christi for Mantua Cathedral between 1483 and 1485 and a large Crucifix for the chapter house of the cathedral (1490–91); none of this work survives. In 1497 Cavalli probably began working for the Mantuan mint. The commissions from Ludovico Gonzaga, Bishop of Mantua, date from 1499 and 1501 (Rossi, 1888): a bronze statuette of the Spinario and four silver roundels with Signs of the Zodiac. Cavalli worked as a sculptor and medallist for the Gonzaga family from 1501 to 1505. He witnessed Andrea Mantegna’s will on 1 March 1504 and the granting of Mantegna’s funerary chapel in S Andrea, Mantua, on 11 August.
From March to June 1506 Cavalli is documented at the mint of the Holy Roman Emperor, ...
(b 1433; d Oct 27, 1484).
Italian illuminator and goldsmith. The creator of some of the liveliest miniatures of the 15th century, his manuscripts are rich in stylistic innovation and thematic invention, sometimes elaborated in a very limited space. He worked for the most important patrons in Italy and abroad, beginning his artistic career under Cosimo il Vecchio and Piero I de’ Medici, and continuing it under Lorenzo the Magnificent. Vespasiano da Bisticci was his contact with patrons outside Florence, who included Federigo II da Montefeltro, Ferdinand I, King of Naples, Louis XI of France and Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary. Francesco decorated texts of all kinds—literary, historical, scientific, religious—and of all sizes, from small Books of Hours to huge choir-books. Amid this variety of subjects his studies of the human figure and his introduction of portraits was innovative; he also established his own approach to landscape, with results similar to those of Antonio Pollaiuolo. His inventions, however, were reserved for privately commissioned books of small size. He created a new kind of ...
Andrea S. Norris
(b Rome, c. 1465; d Loreto, May 31, 1512).
Italian sculptor and medallist. He was the son of Isaia da Pisa. Some scholars have followed Vasari in suggesting that he was trained by his father or by Paolo Romano, but Isaia stopped work and Paolo died too early to have had any significant influence on him. It is likely that he studied with Andrea Bregno, who worked in Rome from 1446 to 1506. He may have been in Urbino before 1482, working at the Palazzo Ducale with the Lombard master Ambrogio d’Antonio Barocci. Several doorframes in the palazzo have been attributed to him. He then probably went to the Este court at Ferrara. In 1490 he carved a portrait bust of Beatrice d’Este (Paris, Louvre), the daughter of Ercole I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, for her betrothal to Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. The attribution of this bust derives from a letter of 12 June 1491 from Isabella d’Este, requesting that Ludovico send Gian Cristoforo, who had done Beatrice’s portrait, to Mantua to work for her. The bust is inscribed with the imprese of a sieve surrounded by a diamond ring. The sieve was a symbol of Ludovico, the diamond of Ercole; entwined they suggest marriage and the hope of fertility. This bust is the sculpture most securely attributed to Gian Cristoforo and, with his medals, provides the basis for the assessment of his style....
[Baldassare da Reggio]
(b Reggio Emilia, bapt June 20, 1432; d after Jan 29, 1506).
Italian painter and medallist . He was brought up as the adopted son of a certain Giovanni Bonayti, but a document of 1489 records him as the (illegitimate) son of Niccolò III d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara. In most documents, however, he is called ‘Baldassare da Reggio’.
Baldassare is first recorded as a painter in a document of 16 January 1461 from the Visconti Sforza ducal registers in Milan, in which he is given permission to travel for two years. This suggests that he had been working for the Dukes of Milan for some time. In 1466, he was paid two lire for an altarpiece for the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan. In February 1469 he painted portraits of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan and his wife, Bona of Savoy, in the ducal castle at Pavia.
In late September 1469, with high recommendations from Galeazzo Maria (in a letter of 5 June 1469...
Mark M. Salton
[Costanzo de Moysis; Costanzo Lombardo]
(b Venice, c. 1450; d ?Naples, after 1524).
Italian medallist and painter. It is generally believed that he is the painter also known as Costanzo Lombardo, recorded in Naples c. 1484, and Costanzo de Moysis, described as a painter from Venice and recorded painting in Naples in 1483 and frescoing the Story of the Prince of Rossano (destr.) in the Villa Duchesca in 1488 (Strazzullo). Most of the information about him comes from a letter dated 24 August 1485 from Battista Bendidio, the Ferrarese envoy in Naples, to Ercole d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. Bendidio mentioned that Costanzo had lived for a considerable time in Ferrara and married a Ferrarese woman. He also reported that when Sultan Mehmed II of Turkey had requested that a painter be sent to Istanbul to paint his portrait, King Ferdinand I of Naples had dispatched Costanzo, who stayed there several years and was knighted by the Sultan. Babinger (1967) suggested that he could have left Naples for Istanbul in spring ...
(b Montepulciano, c. 1425; d Florence, bur Jan 15, 1485).
Italian sculptor and bronze caster. His date of birth is calculated from the catasto (land registry declaration) returns of 1457 and 1480 (that of 1470 erroneously implies that he was born in 1428). In August 1435 he matriculated into the Arte dei Maestri di Pietra e di Legname. In 1445 he collaborated with Antonio Filarete on the bronze doors of St Peter’s, Rome; Filarete stated in his Trattato d’architettura that he trained Pasquino. From 1449 Pasquino was working as Maso di Bartolommeo’s assistant, and on behalf of his master he completed the portal of S Domenico, Urbino, from 1450 to 1454. On 12 June 1453 he was elected choirmaster to the clerics of Florence Cathedral. In 1460 he began working on the bronze screen and gates of the chapel of the Sacro Cingolo in Prato Cathedral, a commission originally given to Maso di Bartolommeo and then to Antonio di ser Cola. Maso was responsible for the overall design, and both he and Antonio di ser Cola executed some of the delicate, openwork screen; Pasquino may have been responsible for the classicizing acanthus-leaf frieze. On ...