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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....

Article

Tadeusz Chrzanowski

(fl 1670; d Jan 30, 1707).

Polish goldsmith, engraver and writer. He produced engraved frontispieces for J. Liberius’s book The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Sea Star (1670) and his own work St Elegius’s Life … (1687). He is noted in the guild records from 1689. Few of his silver pieces have been identified, as he did not use name marks. The impressive monstrance in St Mary’s church in Kraków is attributed to him. Works that are certainly by him include the ‘robes’ on the painting of the Holy Virgin in the Dominican church in Kraków and the small plate from the tabernacle in St Anne’s, Kraków. Ceypler’s most important work is an octagonal reliquary for the head of St Jan Kanty (1695; Kraków, St Anne), signed in Latin. It was designed by King John III’s court painter, Jerzy Eleuter Szymonowicz-Siemiginowski (c. 1660–1711), and was executed by Ceypler with the help of his pupil, ...

Article

Francesco Paolo Fiore and Pietro C. Marani

(Pollaiolo) [Francesco di Giorgio]

(b Siena, bapt Sept 23, 1439; d Siena, bur Nov 29, 1501).

Italian architect, engineer, painter, illuminator, sculptor, medallist, theorist and writer. He was the most outstanding artistic personality from Siena in the second half of the 15th century. His activities as a diplomat led to his employment at the courts of Naples, Milan and Urbino, as well as in Siena, and while most of his paintings and miniatures date from before 1475, by the 1480s and 1490s he was among the leading architects in Italy. He was particularly renowned for his work as a military architect, notably for his involvement in the development of the Bastion, which formed the basis of post-medieval fortifications (see Military architecture & fortification, §III, 2(ii) and 4(ii)). His subsequent palace and church architecture was influential in spreading the Urbino style, which he renewed with reference to the architecture of Leon Battista Alberti but giving emphasis to the purism of smooth surfaces. His theoretical works, which include the first important Western writings on military engineering, were not published until modern times but were keenly studied in manuscript, by Leonardo da Vinci among others; they foreshadowed a number of developments that came to fruition in the 16th century (...

Article

Tadeusz Chrzanowski

(b Łany, nr Warsaw, Jan 14, 1904, d Warsaw, March 21, 1958).

Polish painter, illustrator, metalworker, designer and writer. From 1924 to 1929 he studied at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, where he was later an assistant professor (1927–30, 1933–5). From 1929 to 1930 he studied in France. He exhibited his works from 1928 until his death. At the beginning of his career he concentrated on painting, to which he later returned. He became a popular cartoon artist while working for the satirical weekly Szpilki from 1935 to 1939 and from 1946 to 1958. His illustrations to the works of N. V. Gogol and Fyodor Dostoyevsky were highly acclaimed. Grunwald mastered various techniques in metalworking, until 1939 concentrating on jewellery and promoting abstract forms; he also made lighting equipment, particularly lamps, sconces and chandeliers. During this period he introduced avant-garde features into traditional Polish metalwork. In the post-war period he accepted commissions for monumental works, for example gates, screens, mantelpiece designs and lighting units. In Warsaw he designed the decorative elements for the ...