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Article

Paul Davies and David Hemsoll

(b Genoa, Feb 14, 1404; d Rome, April 1472).

Italian architect, sculptor, painter, theorist and writer. The arts of painting, sculpture and architecture were, for Alberti, only three of an exceptionally broad range of interests, for he made his mark in fields as diverse as family ethics, philology and cryptography. It is for his contribution to the visual arts, however, that he is chiefly remembered. Alberti single-handedly established a theoretical foundation for the whole of Renaissance art with three revolutionary treatises, on painting, sculpture and architecture, which were the first works of their kind since Classical antiquity. Moreover, as a practitioner of the arts, he was no less innovative. In sculpture he seems to have been instrumental in popularizing, if not inventing, the portrait medal, but it was in architecture that he found his métier. Building on the achievements of his immediate predecessors, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, he reinterpreted anew the architecture of antiquity and introduced compositional formulae that have remained central to classical design ever since....

Article

[Jehan; Giovanni]

(fl 1382–1411).

Writer, active in Paris. Between 1382 and 1410 he travelled to Italy on a number of occasions, where he collected recipes for the manufacture of pigments and other techniques from the artists that he met. He also borrowed manuals or handbooks on the washing, purifying and grinding of colours to assist him in his research. In 1431 his collection of recipes was obtained by Jehan Le Bègue (1368–after 1431), a licentiate in the law and notary to the Master of the Mint in Paris. Le Bègue copied out the recipes in his own hand and incorporated them in two sections (De coloribus diversis modis tractatur and De diversis coloribus) into a collection of texts discussing the practice of painting, entitled Experimenta de coloribus (Paris, Bib. N., MS. 6741), first published in 1849 (trans. M. Merrifield). Le Bègue’s compilation begins with a glossary of terms, mostly taken from Alcherius and the ...

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

Patrizia Ferretti

[Vante di Gabriello di Vante Attavanti]

(b Castelfiorentino, 1452; d Florence, 1520–25).

Italian illuminator. He has been praised by art historians since his own times, although many of his autograph works were incorrectly assigned to his workshop. New attributions, supported by archival material, have made it possible to reconstruct his oeuvre and life more accurately. He worked for celebrated patrons and collaborated with the most important illuminators and painters of Florence: Francesco di Antonio del Chierico, the Master of the Hamilton Xenophon, the brothers Gherardo and Monte di Giovanni di Miniato del Foro and Domenico Ghirlandaio, and documents indicate contacts also with Leonardo da Vinci. Attavanti probably trained with del Chierico in 1471–2, while working on the Antiphonary for Florence Cathedral (Florence, Bib. Medicea–Laurenziana, MS. Edili 148). Among the work of late 15th-century illuminators, that of Attavanti is distinguished by his citations from the Antique, his ideas derived from Netherlandish and Florentine panel painting and his illustration of philosophical themes. Recurrent motifs include frontispieces with entablatures on columns, copies of sarcophagi as altar frontals, cameos, allegorical figures within medals and richly dressed figures isolated in framed medallions or symmetrically grouped....

Article

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 ...

Article

(d’Andrea)

(b Colle di Val d’Elsa, nr Florence, c. 1370; d Florence, c. 1440).

Italian writer and painter. His father Andrea Cennini was also probably a painter. Cennino began his career in Florence as a pupil of Agnolo Gaddi, with whom he claimed to have spent 12 years. Agnolo was both a son and pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, who in turn had been taught by Giotto. Cennino, therefore, represented the third generation trained in the Giottesque tradition, a fact he proudly emphasized. He is cited in only two documents of 13 and 19 August 1398, in which he is recorded as a painter living in Padua, employed by Francesco II da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and married to Ricca di Cittadella. No signed or documented works by him have survived, but Boskovits has ascribed paintings to him on the basis of his assumed authorship of a fresco cycle of the Life of St Stephen (Poggibonsi, S Lucchese). The attributions include a panel of the ...

Article

Ryszard Brykowski

Church dedicated to St Michael at Dȩbno in the province of Nowy Sa̧cz, southern Poland. The 15th-century wooden church at Dȩbno has interested art historians since the middle of the 19th century; the stencilled paintings that decorate the interior were then regarded as an expression of ‘Slavonic taste’; soon afterwards the monument was defined as ‘a work in the pointed arch style’. In the 1920s it was included in the ‘Tatra Highlands group of wooden churches’ and regarded as the most characteristic and earliest example of a medieval wooden church in Poland.

A church was first mentioned on the site in 1335. Most of the present church is now dated to the second half of the 15th century: the curtain arch surmounting the south door is typical of Saxon architecture of the period, and the paintings are independently dated c. 1500. The nave and the chancel are both rectangular with a narrow sacristy north of the chancel. The spacing of the roof rafters with collar-beams corresponds to the width of the chancel, creating ‘plank-boxes’ on the sides of the wider nave, a structural solution typical of wooden Gothic church architecture in Little Poland. The lap joints and dowels survive, with the incised carpenter’s marks. Also original are the beam-framed ceiling, the same height in the nave and chancel; the ornate rood-screen; the western choir gallery; the west door and the door leading to the sacristy, both with pointed arches, and the south door; and a window with a curtain arch in the east wall of the chancel....

Article

Jill Kraye

(b Milan, ?1413–22; d after 1466).

Italian humanist and writer. Son and younger brother of well-known humanists, he received his early education in Milan, transferring to Ferrara, probably after 1431, where he studied medicine and literature. He later joined the courtly circle of Lionello d’Este, after whose death he moved to Naples and then Spain, returning to Ferrara in 1465.

Decembrio’s major work is a dialogue, De politia litteraria (1462), which purportedly records conversations between Lionello, his (and Decembrio’s) teacher Guarino da Verona and various members of the Ferrarese court on scholarly, literary and artistic topics, such as the proper content and decoration of libraries. Part LXVIII is an extensive discussion of art, cast in the form of a monologue by Lionello, whose ideas reflect the influence of Leon Battista Alberti’s De pictura. Lionello focuses on the importance of the artist achieving a true representation of nature through the accurate depiction of nude figures. He discusses ancient statues and engraved gems as well as contemporary tapestries and portraits of himself by ...

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

Gordon Campbell

German centre of ceramics production. In 1907 the German art historian Otto von Falke argued that a group of distinctive and highly decorated 15th-century stoneware vessels with stamped ornament (a square containing four dots) had been made in a workshop in Dreihausen (near Marburg, in Hesse). The place of origin has been the subject of much scholarly debate, but it now seems likely that they were made at a workshop in the region of Zittau (Saxony)....

Article

(b La Spezia, nr Genoa, before 1410; d Naples, Nov 1457).

Italian humanist and writer. From a family of Ligurian notaries, he received his early education at Verona with Guarino Guarini (i) in the early 1420s and at the end of the decade studied Greek at Florence. After holding various minor positions in Genoa and Lucca, he was appointed official Genoese envoy to Naples in 1443 and 1444, entering the service of King Alfonso of Naples the following year. At Naples, where he remained for the rest of his life, he obtained the highly paid position of Royal Historiographer and served as tutor to Prince Ferrante.

Among Facio’s works are treatises on happiness and the dignity of man and translations of Isocrates and Arrian. He is best known for his historical writings, in particular De rebus gestis ab Alphonso primo libri X (1455) and De viris illustribus (1456), a collection of 92 brief lives of contemporary figures, classified according to their professions. He included Leon Battista Alberti in the category of orators and referred to his ...

Article

A. E. Werdehausen

[Antonio di Pietro Averlino]

(b c. 1400; d c. 1469).

Italian sculptor, architect and theorist. According to Vasari, he trained in the studio of Lorenzo Ghiberti, but he developed a personal style that was relatively independent of Florentine influence. His Trattato di architettura was the first Renaissance architectural treatise to be written in vernacular Italian and illustrated with drawings and was an important work in the development of Renaissance architectural theory.

Filarete is first recorded in 1433 in Rome, where he attended the coronation of the Emperor Sigismund. Presumably the same year he was commissioned by Pope Eugenius IV to design and execute the bronze door of the main porch of the old St Peter’s (inscribed and dated, 1445). The unsettled political conditions during the pontificate of Eugenius IV (1431–47) and the depiction of events during 1438–42 in the small, friezelike reliefs have led to the supposition (Spencer, 1978) that Filarete was not continuously engaged on the door and at one point was given a change of programme. The two wings of the door each consist of three rectangular fields of different size with large figures (...

Article

[de’ Franceschi]

(b Borgo San Sepolcro [now Sansepolcro], c. 1415; bur Borgo San Sepolcro, Oct 12, 1492).

Italian painter and theorist. His work is the embodiment of rational, calm, monumental painting in the Italian early Renaissance, an age in which art and science were indissolubly linked through the writings of Leon Battista Alberti. Born two generations before Leonardo da Vinci, Piero was similarly interested in the scientific application of the recently discovered rules of perspective to narrative or devotional painting, especially in fresco, of which he was an imaginative master; and although he was less universally creative than Leonardo and worked in an earlier idiom, he was equally keen to experiment with painting technique. Piero was as adept at resolving problems in Euclid, whose modern rediscovery is largely due to him, as he was at creating serene, memorable figures, whose gestures are as telling and spare as those in the frescoes of Giotto or Masaccio. His tactile, gravely convincing figures are also indebted to the sculpture of Donatello, an equally attentive observer of Classical antiquity. In his best works, such as the frescoes in the Bacci Chapel in S Francesco, Arezzo, there is an ideal balance between his serene, classical compositions and the figures that inhabit them, the whole depicted in a distinctive and economical language. In his autograph works Piero was a perfectionist, creating precise, logical and light-filled images (although analysis of their perspective schemes shows that these were always subordinated to narrative effect). However, he often delegated important passages of works (e.g. the Arezzo frescoes) to an ordinary, even incompetent, assistant....

Article

(b Verona, 1433; d Rome, July 1, 1515).

Italian engineer, architect, epigraphist, and scholar. He was much sought after for his technical skills, particularly his expertise in hydraulics and military engineering, while his wide-ranging interests in archaeology, theology, urban planning, and philology earned him the regard of his contemporaries; Vasari described him as ‘un uomo rarissimo ed universale’. He was almost certainly a Franciscan friar, but it is not known where he acquired his architectural training. Given his lifelong and profound study of Classical architecture and inscriptions, Vasari’s assertion that he spent time in Rome as a youth is plausible. One of his earliest endeavours was to compile a collection of Latin inscriptions. The first version (1478–c. 1489), which included drawings and was dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici, became an important and much-copied reference work; it was also a major source for the Corpus inscriptionum latinarum, the principal 19th-century compilation. A fine copy survives (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. Vat. lat. 10228), transcribed by Giocondo’s friend and sometime collaborator, the eminent Paduan calligrapher, ...

Article

Huesca  

Daniel Rico

Spanish provincial capital, to the north of Saragossa in Aragón. Known in pre-Roman Iberia as Bolskan and as Osca under the Romans, it was the seat of the Quintus Sertorius government, a municipium (free town) since the time of Augustus and a bishopric under the Visigoths. During the period of Muslim domination from the 8th to the 11th centuries, the town, known as Wasqa, became a defensive settlement with a city wall stretching for more than 1.8 km, of which some sections still remain. Although the city was recovered by the Christians in 1096 and the episcopal see restored the following year, the architectural transformation of Huesca was not immediate. During the 12th century only two edifices of any real importance were constructed. One of these was the Benedictine monastery of S Pedro el Viejo, of which three Romanesque structures have survived: the church—a simple construction which nevertheless has two interesting tympana carved by sculptors from Jaca; a small chapel, possibly inherited from the Mozarab community in the 11th century, which was used as the Chapter House and then as a funeral chapel; and a cloister decorated around ...

Article

James O. Duke

Term invented in the 19th century, most commonly used to designate developments relating to the revival of Classical literature and learning in European culture from roughly 1300 to 1600. In other contexts, not covered here, it refers to post-Enlightenment programmes of educational reform promoting Classical studies in early 19th-century Germany and, broadly, to currents of opinion that accentuate the worthiness and potential of human beings either with or (often) without assistance from any religious tradition. The term ‘Renaissance’ (Rinascimento, Rinascita) entered Western historiography during the second half of the 19th century with grand historical narratives by Jules Michelet, Jacob Burckhardt, and J. A. Symond. So prominent have been the phrases the ‘revival of antiquity’ and ‘ad fontes’ (‘to the sources’), and the discovery of ‘the dignity of man’ in accounts of the transition from medieval to modern Europe that ‘renaissance’ and ‘humanism’ are often used as overlapping, even interchangeable, concepts. Scholars in the 20th century seeking greater precision have proposed a variety of more highly differentiated definitions of the terms. None commands scholarly consensus. References to ‘the humanist movement’ are likewise as controverted as they are commonplace, attempting to connect the dots of similarities if not direct linkages among a wide range of figures, topics of interest, attitudes, and activities....

Article

Marco Collareta

(Venice, 1499). Illustrated treatise on Italian art. One of the most mysterious books of the Renaissance, it takes the form of a long romance in two parts, written in a curious Italian language that is rich in rare Latinisms and Graecisms. The first part, strongly allegorical in tone, tells the story of a journey made by Poliphilo to meet Polia. He marries her, and together they go off to worship the statue of Venus, the goddess of love. In the second and shorter part, Polia and Poliphilo recall the story of their love, at first beset by problems but afterwards happy. Although precise references to Treviso and to the 1460s create a sense of actuality, the Hypnerotomachia adopts the literary convention of pure dream. Hence the strange Graecizing title of the work, which means ‘the dream of a battle for love fought by Poliphilo’ (i.e. ‘lover of Polia’).

The initial letters of the 38 chapters of the ...

Article

Evelyn M. Cohen

(fl 15th century).

?Portuguese writer of Jewish origin. A treatise on the preparation of colours and gold for use in manuscript illumination (Parma, Bib. Palatina, MS. De Rossi 945) has been attributed to him (for a contrary opinion see Metzger); it is the only extant book of this kind apparently written by a Jew. The Portuguese text is written in Hebrew characters. An ornate signature of Abraham ibn Hayyim appears on fol. 20r, and an inscription of fol. 1r states that the work was written by him in Loulé in 1262; the author was consequently believed to have lived in the 13th century, but the treatise is now generally accepted as being of the 15th century, when Portugal, especially Lisbon, was an important centre of Hebrew manuscript illumination. It has been suggested that Joseph ibn Hayyim, the artist who illuminated the Kennicott Bible (1476; Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Kenn. 1; ...

Article

Jutland  

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, ...

Article

Jill Kraye

(b Florence, 1424; d Borgo alla Collina, nr Pratovecchio, Sept 24, 1498).

Italian humanist and writer. After studying at Volterra, he moved to Florence. In 1458 he began lecturing at the Florentine Studio (the university) on poetry and rhetoric, also working as a secretary in the chancellery after 1483. He became a member of Marsilio Ficino’s circle, whose Neo-Platonic philosophy he applied to the interpretation of poetry.

A champion of the Italian language, Landino produced a vernacular translation of Pliny the elder’s Natural History in 1473. In his version of the books devoted to art (XXXIV–XXXVI), he coined a number of terms, closely based on their Latin originals, which enriched the vocabulary of 15th-century art criticism: for instance, disposizione (arrangement), florido (flowery) and duro (hard). In the preface to his Comento sopra la Comedia di Dante Alighieri (1481), Landino gave a brief account of distinguished Florentine painters and sculptors. He began with a discussion of ancient art, based on Pliny, and then, drawing heavily on Filippo Villani, described the work of Cimabue, Giotto and other 14th-century painters. In his characterizations of 15th-century artists Landino, in the opinion of Baxandall (...