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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....


Richard K. Emmerson

Illuminated Ottonian manuscript (205×295 mm; Bamberg, Staatsbibl., MS. Bibl. 140) comprising 106 folios, divided into two halves, the first containing 50 miniatures illustrating the Book of Revelation, the second with 5 full-page miniatures illustrating Gospel readings from the Nativity to Pentecost. Separating the sections are two full-page images each with two registers. On the left St Peter and St Paul crown a young ruler, who is given obeisance by personifications of the four peoples of the empire, depicted below. They recall the personifications bringing gifts to the emperor in the Gospels of Otto III (Munich, Bayer. Staatsbib., Clm. 4453). Facing this imperial scene, on the right, Old Testament figures are paired with four personifications of the victorious virtues they model for the ruler: Abraham/Obedience, Moses/Purity, David/Repentance, and Job/Patience. The Apocalypse miniatures, of varying size and interspersed within the Latin text, are painted on gold grounds. Their iconography, descending from a Roman archetype, is related to the Carolingian Valenciennes Apocalypse (early 9th century; Valenciennes, Bib. Mun., MS. 99) and the contemporary Apocalypse fresco of Novara Baptistery. The vigorous colours and sumptuous execution of the miniatures, including an early detailed ...


Adam S. Cohen

revised by Shirin Fozi

Illuminated manuscript (292 × 225 mm; London, BL, Add. MS. 49598) containing liturgical prayers recited by the bishop, produced in Winchester between ad 971 and 984 for Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, a leader of Anglo-Saxon monastic reform. It is a sumptuous work, with 28 full-page miniatures (another 15 have been lost) and 2 historiated initials lavishly executed in gold and vibrant colours (see Initial, manuscript). The decoration includes the finest examples of Winchester school borders, consisting of acanthus designs that fill the frame and shoot forth from the corner medallions. An inscription describes the manufacture of the book by the scribe Godeman and refers specifically to the ‘many frames well adorned’. The figural style, like the decorative and iconographic elements, is derived primarily from Carolingian models and is consistent with contemporaneous Anglo-Saxon art; what distinguishes the manuscript is its extremely luxurious illuminations and the complexity of its iconographic programme....


Katherine Forsyth

Illuminated Gospel book (Cambridge, U. Lib., MS. Ii.6.32) made in the 10th Century. This is the oldest extant Gospel book with a securely Scottish provenance. Housed since 1715 in Cambridge University Library, it belonged in the early 12th century to the monastery of Deer, Aberdeenshire, as shown by a series of property grants recorded in its margins. These notes constitute, by some three centuries, the oldest surviving documents in Scottish Gaelic. The Book is a small-format, abbreviated Gospels intended for personal devotion and intimate pastoral use. As such it is an exceptional survival from the period. It contains the complete Latin text of John’s Gospel, and the beginnings of the other three. At an early date the text of a communion service for the sick and dying was inserted on a separate leaf. The Book was produced c. 900 in a Gaelic-speaking milieu at an unknown location, possibly in north-east Scotland, perhaps at Deer itself. The scribe appears also to have been the artist. Despite its small size, the Book follows many of the conventions of Insular book art and is comparatively heavily illuminated. Its programme consists of ‘three cruciform pages, five Gospel incipits with decorated initials, five full-folio and one half-folio figurative miniatures, and a variety of marginalia’ which relate to points of significance in the text (Henderson ...


In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...


Heather Pulliam

Term usually applied to the full-page ornamental designs that occur in Insular Gospel books. Carpet pages typically occur at the beginning of a section of text and several scholars have argued that they may serve an apotropaic function, marking the viewer’s entrance into the sacred text. Michelle Brown has also suggested that these pages could refer to the temple veil as well as to the silk cloth that was sometimes used to cover and protect painted images within manuscripts.

The designs typically incorporate abstract Christian symbolism such as the marigold, cross, and tri-knot. These motifs, as well as other geometric designs, play upon Christian number symbolism: the trinity (3), the four Evangelists and quadripartite world (4), Christ’s death and suffering (6), the resurrection (8), the perfection of God (10), and the apostles and tribes of Israel (12). The carpet page shares a number of common features with Insular stone-carving, especially the cross slabs found in Scotland. Complex geometry and proportions underlie the designs of these pages....


Delia Kottmann

Italian village in Lazio, north of Rome, known for its church. The church of SS Anastasius and Nonnosus is all that remains of the 6th-century Benedictine monastery, which submitted to Cluny in ad 940. Apart from some re-used fragments, the architecture is Romanesque, with a Cosmati pavement in opus sectile as well as an ambo and ciborium. The church is famous for its wall paintings from the first quarter of the 12th century. The apse and its adjacent walls, showing the 24 elders, are influenced by Romano–Christian motifs. Christ in the middle of the conch is flanked by Peter and Paul in a Traditio legis depiction, with a procession of lambs below. Underneath, Maria Regina has to be reconstructed in the middle, between two conserved angels followed by female saints in a Byzantine manner. No Romano–Christian iconography seems to have influenced the vast apocalyptic cycle painted on the side walls of the transept. A band of prophets runs beneath the roof on all the walls of the transept. An inscription in the apse indicates three Roman painters....


Bent L. Pedersen

[ Chao Ch’ang ; zi Changzhi]

(b Guanghan, Sichuan Province, c. ad 960; d after 1016).

Chinese painter . He was a painter of birds, flowers and insects, following the style of Teng Changyou ( fl ad 907–20). Although paintings attributed to him are not genuine, they provide an indication of his style. These works can be divided into two groups: one of relatively small paintings of flowers and another of larger pictures, with birds, insects, trees, rocks and flowers.

Zhao is known to have studied his subjects thoroughly before painting them. The flowers he depicted tended to be the cultivated varieties he saw in the gardens of contemporary Sichuan Province or in the capital, Bianliang (now Kaifeng, in Henan). Although the flowers possess many realistic features, they are sometimes painted in a formal way, producing a decorative effect. Zhao was famous for rendering flowers in such a way that the thickness of the ink and colour pigment could be clearly seen. This is evident in the fan painting ...


Joan Stanley-Baker

[Li Ch’eng; zi Xianxi; hao Yingqiu]

(b ad 919; d 967).

Chinese painter. His ancestors, members of the imperial clan, were natives of Chang’an (now Xi’an, Shaanxi Province), the Tang-dynasty (ad 618–907) capital. During disturbances at the end of the 9th century the clan split into two branches. Li’s grandfather, who settled in Qingzhou (now Shandong), and his father both held official posts. From 956 to 958 Li was in government service in Bianliang (now Kaifeng), at the invitation of his friend Wang Pu, then Commissioner of Military Affairs for Emperor Shizong (reg 944–54). Li came to know many important scholar–officials, but, despondent after the death of Wang, took to poetry, music, painting and drink. His paintings became sought after, but he remained at first socially aloof. Later he became a habitual wanderer, until, some time after 964, he accepted an invitation to live in Huaiyang (Henan Province), where he died of overindulgence in wine.

Li Cheng exemplifies the Chinese phenomenon of a profoundly admired artist whose true style was, within a century of his death, obscured by unreliable attributions, the relationships of which to the original can no longer be determined. His fame was established early in the Northern Song period (...


A. Wallert

Medieval treatise containing a collection of chemical recipes, with descriptions on the preparation and application of pigments and dyes. It is a parchment codex written by different hands in the late 8th or early 9th century. The manuscript (Lucca, Bib. Capitolare, Cod. 490) is sometimes called the ‘Lucca manuscript’ but is better known as Compositiones ad tingenda, from the title of its first publication by Muratori, or Compositiones variae. The Compositiones is not a systematically organized treatise. It contains instructions for different craft practices in 157 recipes. Its subjects include the coloration of artificial stone for making mosaics; dyeing of skins, textiles, and other materials; the making of various chemical substances; and metallurgical operations.

The Compositiones has descriptions that make it of extreme interest for the history of painting techniques. It contains recipes for the preparation of mineral pigments and organic colorants and for gilding and gold inks. It has the first description of the making of ...


Heather Pulliam

French illuminated manuscript (Amiens, Bib. Mun., MS. 18) containing the Gallican Psalter, canticles, litanies, and Fides Athanasii in Latin, in Maurdramnus script and made in or near Corbie c. 800. Elaborate initials, approximately 60 of which contain human figures, begin each psalm and canticle. The illumination fuses Merovingian, Byzantine, Sasanian, Insular, Lombard, and Carolingian styles. The iconography is multivalent and ranges from biblical persons to monks at prayer. Like the Utrecht and Stuttgart Psalters, the Corbie Psalter’s complex word–image relationships offer a rare glimpse into early approaches to Psalter illustration. The manuscript, along with the Vespasian Psalter, St Petersburg Bede, Gellone Sacramentary, and the Book of Kells, provides a significant witness to the development of historiated initials and predicts forms and motifs found in Romanesque initials.

The initials of Psalms 1, 50, and 100 are given special emphasis, suggesting a tripartite division of the psalms in the Irish manner. Scholars have also associated the Corbie Psalter with two manuscripts in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (MS. lat. 13025 and lat. 4884), suggesting the possibility of a common artist or artists. The manuscript’s incomplete colour has been incorrectly described as unsophisticated, possibly due to the deteriorated state of many of its pages and the fact that the first few folios of the manuscript appear to have been crudely over-painted. In the small number of pages where the original colour survives in good condition, the careful application of naturalistic colour resembles that of the Lindisfarne Gospels while the layering of matte and iridescent colours matches the artistry found in the Book of Kells....


Joan Stanley-Baker

[ Hsü Tao-ning ]

(b Chang’an [modern Xi’an], Shaanxi Province, c. ad 970; d c. 1052).

Chinese painter . Originally a vendor of medicinal herbs, he initially painted landscapes to attract potential customers. After attaining fame, he ‘frequented the manorial homes of princelings and officials’, for whom he painted murals, hanging scrolls and handscrolls. He was a familiar guest of the rich and powerful in both Chang’an and the capital, Bianliang (modern Kaifeng), in Henan Province. Famous clients included Huang Tingjian’s father, Huang Shu (1018–58). Huang Tingjian later eulogized one of Xu’s paintings:

I met Drunken Xu in Chang’an …

Quite tipsy, he would wield a worn brush dripping with ink,

With the force of an avalanche, his hand never stopping.

In a few feet, mountains and rivers would stretch over ten thousand miles,

And fill the hall with a bleak and chilly air.

A rustic monk returns to his temple, followed by the boy.

A fisherman is hailed by the traveller waiting to ford the stream....


Joan Stanley-Baker

[ Wu Daoxuan, Wu Tao-hsüan ; Wu Tao-tzu ]

(b Yangzhe [modern Yu xian, Henan Province]; fl c. ad 710–60).

Chinese painter . Later known as Wu Daoxuan, he is a legendary figure said to have depicted human beings, landscapes, architecture, Buddhist deities, demons, birds and animals. Reportedly, he derived his inspiration from wine and had a mercurial, responsive brushstyle, producing breathtaking vistas of natural scenery and figures across vast areas of temple wall.

Hearing of his extraordinary talents, the Emperor Xuanzong (Minghuang; reg 712–56) summoned Wu to his palace at Chang’an (modern Xi’an). Between 742 and 755 the emperor dispatched Wu to the Jialing River in Sichuan Province to paint the scenery. On his return, Wu stated, ‘I have made no draft, but have committed all to memory.’ He proceeded to paint the walls of the hall known as the Datong dian with 300 or more li (c. 150 km) of Jialing River scenery in a single day. Five dragons in the Inner Hall, painted by Wu on another occasion, supposedly had scales so lifelike that each time it was about to rain, they emitted misty vapours (the dragon symbolized imperial power over rain and irrigation). Contemporary accounts report that Wu covered 300–400 wall surfaces in Buddhist and Daoist temples in the two Tang-dynasty (...


Dimitris Plantzos


Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...


Peter C. Sturman

[ Chou Fang ]

(b Chang’an (now Xi’an), Shaanxi Province; fl c. ad 765–800).

Chinese painter . He was active at the Tang dynasty (618–907) court in the capital, Chang’an, after the An Lushan Rebellion (756). He painted both religious and secular figures but is particularly associated with the depiction of palace ladies ( see also China, People’s Republic of §V 3., (vii) ), a genre in which he is considered peerless. He was reportedly of noble birth. His father served as a Master of Ceremonies in a princely household and then as Investigating Censor. Between 766 and 779 under Emperor Daizong (reg 762–79), Zhou Fang served as an administrator of Yuezhou (modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province); not long after, he held the position of administrative aide in Xuanzhou (modern Xuancheng, Anhui Province). From Xuanzhou, Zhou Fang seems to have returned to the capital.

In his time, Zhou Fang was celebrated as a painter of religious subjects, particularly the ‘water-and-moon Guanyin’, a version of the ...


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 ...


Han Gan  

Joan Stanley-Baker

[Han Kan]

(b Chang’an [now Xi’an, Shaanxi Province]; fl c. ad 742–83).

Chinese painter. He was celebrated for his paintings of figures, goblins and spirits and, especially, for his depictions of saddled horses. He came from a poor family but as a young man was patronized by the great poet Wang Wei, who sponsored his painting studies under Cao Ba (fl713–42), the pre-eminent horse painter of the day. Han Gan’s achievement and influence eventually outstripped those of Cao.

In the Lidai minghua ji (‘Record of famous painters of all periods’; 847), Zhang Yanyuan wrote that Emperor Xuanzong (reg ad 712–56) ‘loved large horses and ordered Han to paint the most noble of his more than 400,000 steeds’. Han thus depicted imperial favourites such as Feihuang, Fouyun, Wuhua, Yuhuacong and Zhaoyebai, showing their extraordinary pelts, rounded bones and joints and thick hooves. Often they were seen in precarious situations, turning abruptly or toiling through deep swamps. Han also portrayed favoured steeds stabled among the imperial horses. Perhaps in reaction to the sinewy style established by such artists as Yan Liben and Zhan Ziqian, Han evidently liked to paint plump horses, a preference for which his contemporary, the poet Du Fu, had chided him, writing of the ‘large, fat horses … pure flesh without bone, … allowing their spirit to dissipate’. The rebellion of An Lushan in 756 almost destroyed the large horses as a species, and Han was thus rendered idle. The story is told, however, that in response to a request, he painted a horse for a dead person and burnt the work in offering, to be rewarded later by a ghost riding forward to thank him....


Joan Stanley-Baker

[ Chao Kan ]

(b Jiangnan region, south of the Yangzi River; fl before ad 975).

Chinese painter . He was an apprentice at the painting academy under Li Yu (reg 961–75), ruler of the Southern Tang dynasty (937–75) in Nanjing. Although he must have been young then, there are no records to indicate that Zhao entered painting circles after the capitulation of Li Yu and the advent of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127). He may have died or simply ceased painting.

The Shengchao minghua ping (‘Critique of famous painters of the present [Song] dynasty’; 1059), by Liu Daoshun, placed Zhao Gan in the third class (neng, ‘competent’) of painters of landscapes and woods, citing the way in which he could conjure up the feelings evoked by travelling along rivers and bring them vividly to life for the viewer. The Xuanhe huapu (‘Xuanhe collection of painting’, 1120), the catalogue of Emperor Huizong’s collection, recorded that Zhao Gan painted mainly pavilions, boats and ships, water villages, fish markets, flowers and bamboo, composed as scenic incidents. The catalogue also referred to Zhao’s ability to transport the viewer directly into the scene, making him feel as if he were gathering up his clothes ready to walk through the waters. Titles in the Xuanhe collection include ...



Joan Stanley-Baker

[Kuan-hsiu; original family name Jiang; zi Deyin; hao Chanyue

(b Lanxi, Zhejiang Province, ad 832; d Chengdu, Sichuan Province, 912).

Chinese painter, calligrapher, poet and Buddhist monk. During the reign (ad 901–3) of the Tang emperor Zhaozong (reg ad 888–904), he visited Sichuan Province and was honoured by the King of Shu, who bestowed on him the title of Master. At that time, Daoism and Buddhism flourished in Sichuan, prompting many temple-building projects and giving an unprecedented impetus to the liturgical arts and figurative painting. Of the 50 or more painters recorded as then working in Sichuan, most were producing Daoist and Buddhist figure paintings.

According to contemporary sources, Guanxiu deviated from current fashions in depicting the Buddhist luohan (Skt arhats; enlightened beings) in his paintings with Tatar features and Indian faces. Like those of his predecessor, Yan Liben, these ascetics had long, trailing eyebrows, enormous, deep-set eyes, huge ears and bulbous noses. Guanxiu said that his inspiration ‘came from dreams’. Although he is said to have used only ink wash, his dexterity in that medium produced the effect of a full-colour spectrum. He reputedly sat in meditation in a room perfumed by incense and, when a genuine vision of the Buddha came to him, leapt up and rapidly depicted two or three ...


Mary S. Lawton

[Ching Hao; zi Haoran; hao Hongguzi]

(b either Qinshui [nr modern Jiyuan] or nr Henei, both Henan Province, c. ad 855–80; d c. 915–40).

Chinese painter. Jing was the foremost of the great monumental monochrome landscape painters of the Five Dynasties period (906–60) in northern China. According to critics he was already recognized as a master among landscape painters at the end of the Tang period (618–907). In Mi Fu’s Hua shi (‘History of painting’; preface 1103) it is recorded that Jing taught Guan Tong and that later his work was studied by Li Cheng and Fan Kuan.

Jing was a Confucian scholar, well versed in the Chinese classics. He may have been a minor official under Zhaozong (reg 888–904) at Bianliang (modern Kaifeng), Henan Province, or Chang’an (modern Xi’an), Shaanxi Province. However, from about the age of 35, he led a solitary life at Honggu in the Taihang Mountains, Henan, taking refuge from the fighting prior to the collapse of the Tang dynasty. He apparently supported himself there by farming but continued to paint, adopting the literary name (...