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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 ...


Ursula Härting

Small painting of the type hung in a Kunstkammer—an art collection formed by a connoisseur in northern Europe at the end of the 16th and especially in the 17th century. It can, in addition, refer to painted depictions of these collections.

Encyclopedic collections (Kunstkammern) were popular at the beginning of the 17th century in the southern Netherlands and particularly in Antwerp (see Belgium, Kingdom of, §XIII), although similar types of Kunstkammern also existed in the northern Netherlands, as can be seen from the inventory of Rembrandt’s collection. At the same time, the place accorded to pictures in such private collections in Antwerp increased in importance; paintings clearly formed the bulk of the inventory of the collection of Arnold Lunden, the Antwerp banker and brother-in-law of Peter Paul Rubens, which was drawn up in 176 sections between 1639 and 1649. Besides pictures by all the chief Flemish masters of his time, it included masterpieces of the Antwerp school and works by Italian artists of the 16th and 17th centuries. Antwerp burghers were fully aware of the aristocratic pretensions of such connoisseurship. Besides originals, they collected copies of famous or characteristic works by well-known artists. There was a predominance of painters in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke and the dominance of pupils over masters is probably explained by this demand for copies. During the 17th century there was a great increase in the export of small cabinet paintings from ...


Phillip Lindley

Manager of the royal building works in later medieval England (see also Office of Works). In the 12th century royal building operations were usually initiated by a writ from the king to the sheriff of the county in which work was to be carried out, the sheriff bringing the writs to the Exchequer at Michaelmas as authority for his expenditure. Viewers also attended in order to verify the expenditure. During the 13th century, as financial control was progressively removed from the hands of the sheriff, individuals who supervised specific works as ‘keepers of the works’ (custodes operacionum) became increasingly common. By Henry III’s minority (1216–27), the keepers of major building operations generally submitted their accounts in writing. Under the reform of the Exchequer in 1236–7 a regulation required all works accounts to be audited by means of written accounts, and by the end of Henry’s reign rolls of particular expenses were being presented by sheriffs as well as keepers of works. Each passed account was usually enrolled, in a very condensed form, on the Pipe Roll. Although there is still evidence of major building operations for which no enrolled accounts were ever produced, the rendering of accounts in writing became increasingly common practice, and it was this reliance on the written record that necessitated the employment of paid officials as clerks of the works. In general, this move can be seen as part of the transition from an oral to a written culture. By the 14th century the management of the king’s works was entirely in the hands of professional clerks of the works, and the old title of ‘keepers of the works’ fell into disuse. The organization of the works increasingly tended towards specialization and centralization, with a separation of the administrative and technical sides....


Claire Pace

Controversy that developed in Italy in the 16th century over the relative merits of design or drawing (It. disegno) and colour (colore). It was fundamentally a debate over whether the value of a painting lay in the idea originating in the artist’s mind (the invention), which was explored through drawings made prior to the painting’s execution, or in the more lifelike imitation of nature, achieved through colour and the process of painting itself.

The disegno e colore debate focused on the rivalry between the two dominant traditions of 16th-century Italian painting, Central Italian and Venetian. Central Italian, especially Florentine, painting depended on drawing and on the use of preparatory studies and cartoons, and the depiction of the human figure was the supreme test of an artist’s skill; Venetian painters built up their pictures directly on the canvas, creating a more spontaneous and expressive art. The difference between the two approaches was formulated in the writings of ...


Gordon Campbell



Harriet Sonne de Torrens

Mainland peninsula of modern-day Denmark and one of the three provinces (Jutland, Zealand and Skåne, southern Sweden) that constituted medieval Denmark. The conversion of the Danes to Christianity initiated a reorganization of the economic, social and legal structures of Denmark that would change the shape of Jutland dramatically between the 11th and 14th centuries. Under Knut the Great, King of Denmark and England (reg 1019–35), Jutland acquired a stable diocesan system (1060) that enabled a systematic collection of tithes and the growth of religious institutions between 1050 and 1250. During this period, agricultural practices changed as manor houses and landed estates were established, producing wealth for the ruling families. Under Valdemar I (reg 1157–82) and Knut VI (reg 1182–1202), Jutland witnessed a great building activity; on Jutland more than 700 stone churches were constructed, some replacing earlier wooden churches, each needing liturgical furnishings. Workshops, such as that of the renowned sculptor Horder and many others, were actively engaged in carving stone baptismal fonts (e.g. Malt, Skodborg, Ut, Stenild), capitals, reliefs (Vestervig, Aalborg) and tympana (Gjøl, Ørsted, Stjaer, Skibet), wooden cult figures, Jutland’s golden altars (Lisbjerg, Sahl, Stadil, Tamdrup) and wall paintings. Evidence of the earliest wall paintings in Jutland, ...