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Article

Ajouré  

Gordon Campbell

French term for openwork, used in the decorative arts principally with reference to metalwork, bookbinding and heraldry. In metalwork, it denotes the piercing or perforation of sheet metal, a practice found as early as the ancient Egyptian period. In bookbinding, the term ajouré binding refers to a style that emerged in late 15th-century Venice in which bindings were embellished with pierced or translucent patterns, typically open designs of foliage. In heraldry, an ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

Article

Morocco  

Article

(b Nimo, April 30, 1933).

Nigerian painter, sculptor, illustrator and poet. After attending Bishop Shanahan Secondary School, Orlu (1950–53), he received a degree in Fine Arts from the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria (1957–61). In 1958 he founded the Asele Institute in Kafanchan for research in Nigerian art and culture. In the 1960s he was a member of the Ibadan Mbari Club, and a few years later formed the Enugu branch of Mbari that became a centre for artists of the Eastern region. His interest in Nigerian visual culture, especially that of his own Ibgo people, was most evident in his attention to and use of uli patterns (see Africa §V 3.) in his works, such as Oja Suite (1962; Nimo, Asele Inst.). He employed these organic, gestural lines to depict Igbo folktales as well as to produce the later Munich Suite (1963) during his travels in Germany. He was a founding member of the Zaria Art Society, which sought to create a Nigerian artistic expression based on a synthesis of indigenous and foreign art traditions. In ...

Article

Rachel Milstein

[Codex Petropolitanus ; Leningrad Codex]

Illuminated Hebrew Bible (St Petersburg, N. Lib., MS. Firk. Heb. I B 19A), copied in Fustat, Egypt, in 1008–10. Written in ink and lavishly illuminated in gold, blue, and red at the end, this codex of 491 vellum leaves is the only complete Hebrew Bible from the early medieval Near East. It was copied between 1008 and 1010 by Shmuel ben Ya’aqov for Mevorakh ben Yoseph in Fustat (Old Cairo), probably in a Karaite milieu. (The Karaites are a Jewish sect that denies the Talmudic rabbinical tradition and recognizes the Scriptures as the sole and direct source of religious law.) By the 14th century the manuscript was given to the Karaite Synagogue in Damascus and in that town it was purchased by Abraham Firkovich (1786–1874) in the 19th century.

Following a common practice in medieval Hebrew Bibles, the illumination of the St Petersburg Bible comprises mainly micrographic Masoratic notes (sets of grammatical variations taken from the Holy Script). These notes, together with Psalm verses and blessings, form discrete, monochromatic, and semi-abstract motifs in the margins of the text, or serve as outlines in full-page compositions. The scribe of the St Petersburg Bible points out in the colophon that he himself added the vocalization and the Masorah. These assume a decorative form of roundels only under the verses of the first song of Moses (Exodus 15:10–19, fols 40...

Article

Chika Okeke

(b Onitsha, June 4, 1946).

Nigerian painter, graphic artist, illustrator and poet. After studying at Central Art School, Onitsha, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1965–6), he received his BA (1972) and MFA (1977) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he studied with Uche Okeke. He worked as a commercial artist and graphic designer for the Ministry of Agriculture, Enugu, and the Ministry of Information, Aba. Among his many honours are the Department of Fine Arts Prize (University of Nigeria, Nsukka), the T. A. Fasuyi Prize for painting, the Commercial Art Cup, the Shell d’Arcy Cup for painting, and the 1990 Association of Nigerian Authors Cadbury Poetry Prize. His interest in artistic communities was a major factor in the foundation of the AKA Circle of Exhibiting Artists (1986). The Biafran Civil War (1967–70) greatly impacted his life and art. At that time he abandoned mimetic naturalism as a style, turning instead to the linear forms and symbols of ...

Article

Blanca García Vega

(b Málaga, Aug 15, 1821; d Madrid, Feb 19, 1882).

Spanish lithographer, illustrator and painter. In 1859 he enlisted for the African Campaign in Morocco, and the studies he did in Africa led to drawings for an atlas of the battles in Africa (Madrid, 1860), as well as those for Crónicas de la guerra de Africa (Madrid, 1859) by Emilio Castelar and for Diario (Madrid, 1859–60) by the novelist Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (1833–91). He promoted a section for lithography at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios in Madrid. An excellent portraitist, he also made numerous drawings and illustrations for newspapers, royal chronicles and for Iconografia española (Madrid, 1855–64) by Valentín Carderera y Solano, as well as lithographs of bullfights. He provided decorative works for various public buildings in Madrid and the provinces.

A. Canovas: Pintores malaqueños del siglo XIX (Málaga, 1908) A. Gallego: Historia del grabado en España (Madrid, 1979), p. 356 E. Paez Rios...

Article

Esmé Berman

( Willem Frederick )

(b The Hague, Sept 9, 1873; d Pretoria, Jan 24, 1921).

South African painter and printmaker of Dutch birth. He was a self-taught artist and left Holland in 1905 to take up employment in the Pretoria branch of a Dutch bookselling firm. He painted and etched landscapes and still-lifes during weekends only until 1916, when a group of patrons made it possible for him to spend three months painting full-time in Cape Town. He found the misty winter climate of the Cape peninsula, being closer to the atmosphere of his homeland than the harsh, sunlit expanses of the Transvaal, suited to his temperament and style. During that and later visits he produced enough saleable work to repay his benefactors and to continue painting full-time. Unfortunately his practice of working incessantly outdoors, regardless of inclement weather, also undermined the fragile health that had originally driven him from Holland.

Although Wenning revelled in the wooded landscapes of the Cape, he eschewed the picture-postcard sentimentality typical of the work of most of his contemporaries. His formats are small, but the flat colour planes and decorative, rhythmical contours—both especially pronounced in his still-life studies—are brisk and confident, as in ...