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Article

Jane Geddes

Deluxe manuscript (Aberdeen, U. Lib., MS. 24) made in England around 1200. It is remarkable for its lavish illustrations, amply covered in gold leaf; for the wealth of its codicological data and for its close relationship to the Ashmole Bestiary. The book was left unfinished, so sketches and the detailed instructions for its colouring and assembly remain visible. The last few pages were completed in the 14th century. The book begins with a Creation cycle of full-page miniatures culminating in Adam Naming the Animals and Christ in Majesty. A portrait or narrative illustration of each animal precedes every text description.

The manuscript contains the press mark of King Henry VIII’s library, mainly assembled after the dissolution of the monasteries, but its provenance before 1542 is not known. Muratova (1986, pp. 118–144) uses cumulative information from a group of related manuscripts to suggest a provenance in the north-east Midlands; Geddes (...

Article

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

Gordon Campbell

Style of late 15th- and early 16th- century North Italian bookbinding associated with Aldus Manutius but not restricted to the publications of the Aldine Press. The design of the bindings, which were usually in brown or red morocco, was relatively simple, consisting of geometrical strapwork or rectangular panels of gold fillets. The arabesques in the corners of the panels are called ‘Aldine fleurons’ or ‘Aldine knot leaves’....

Article

[Khwāja ‛Alī Tabrīzī]

(fl Herat, 1420–45).

Persian illustrator. Khwaja ‛Ali of Tabriz is named as illuminator and illustrator in the colophon to a fine copy (Istanbul, Tokapı Pal. Lib., H. 781) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’), completed in 1445–6 for Ismat al-Dunya, the wife of the Timurid prince Muhammad Juki. The artist is probably to be identified with the ‘portraitist’ of that name who, according to Dust Muhammad, was brought by Muhammad Juki’s half-brother Baysunghur to Herat from Tabriz in 1420. Khwaja ‛Ali’s paintings in the Khamsa are distinguished by round-headed snub-nosed figures, refined and meticulous architecture and interiors, fresh and verdant foliage, and a palette of primary colours with much green and purple. Many of his compositions repeat those used in earlier manuscripts. His style can be identified in several other manuscripts produced at Herat: a copy (1431; Istanbul, Mus. Turk. & Islam. A., MS. 1954) of Nizami ‛Arudi’s Chahār maqāla (‘Four discourses’) made for ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

[Qāsim ibn ‛Alī Chihra-gushāy: ‘portrait painter’]

(fl c. Herat, 1475–c. 1526).

Iranian illustrator. He was one of the most renowned painters at the court of the Timurid sultan Husayn Bayqara (see Timurid family §II, (8)) and his associate ‛Alishir Nava’i (see also Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(d)). The chronicler Mīrzā Muhammad Haydar Dughlāt (1500–51) described him as a portrait painter and pupil of Bihzad and said that Qasim ‛Ali’s works came close to Bihzad’s but were rougher. The historian Khwāndamīr (d 1535–6) noted that Qasim ‛Ali worked in the library of ‛Alishir Nava’i, the poet, bibliophile and major patron, but that by the 1520s, having made the pilgrimage to Mecca and moved to Sistan, he apparently had ceased painting. His style is difficult to define because many works are falsely ascribed to him. The four paintings most convincingly attributed to him are in the style of Bihzad and illustrate a copy (divided, Oxford, Bodleian Lib., Elliott 287, 317, 339 and 408; Manchester, John Rylands U. Lib., Turk. MS. 3) of ‛Alishir’s ...

Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Florence, before March 12, 1446; d Lucca, 1496).

Italian painter and illuminator. He was a Camaldolite monk; his appointment, from 1470, as Abbot of Agnano, Arezzo, and Val di Castro, Fabriano, was disputed, since he never resided at either abbey. His work is known from a signed triptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (1460–67) in SS Martino e Bartolomeo at Tifi, Arezzo (in situ). It shows the influence of the most fashionable Florentine artists of the time, such as Neri di Bicci, and such artists from the Marches as Giovanni Boccati and Gerolamo di Giovanni da Camerino. The most noteworthy aspect of the altarpiece, however, is its chromatic quality. This undoubtedly derives from the work of Piero della Francesca and has made it possible to identify Amedei as the collaborator to whom Piero entrusted the small predella scenes and pilaster figures of the polyptych of the Misericordia (Sansepolcro, Pin.), a work that can be dated by the final payments made in ...

Article

William Hood

[Fra Giovanni da Fiesole; Guido di Piero da Mugello]

(b nr Vicchio, c. 1395–1400; d Rome, Feb 18, 1455).

Italian painter, illuminator and Dominican friar. He rose from obscure beginnings as a journeyman illuminator to the renown of an artist whose last major commissions were monumental fresco cycles in St Peter’s and the Vatican Palace, Rome. He reached maturity in the early 1430s, a watershed in the history of Florentine art. None of the masters who had broken new ground with naturalistic painting in the 1420s was still in Florence by the end of that decade. The way was open for a new generation of painters, and Fra Angelico was the dominant figure among several who became prominent at that time, including Paolo Uccello, Fra Filippo Lippi and Andrea del Castagno. By the early 1430s Fra Angelico was operating the largest and most prestigious workshop in Florence. His paintings offered alternatives to the traditional polyptych altarpiece type and projected the new naturalism of panel painting on to a monumental scale. In fresco projects of the 1440s and 1450s, both for S Marco in Florence and for S Peter’s and the Vatican Palace in Rome, Fra Angelico softened the typically astringent and declamatory style of Tuscan mural decoration with the colouristic and luminescent nuances that characterize his panel paintings. His legacy passed directly to the second half of the 15th century through the work of his close follower Benozzo Gozzoli and indirectly through the production of Domenico Veneziano and Piero della Francesca. Fra Angelico was undoubtedly the leading master in Rome at mid-century, and had the survival rate of 15th-century Roman painting been greater, his significance for such later artists as Melozzo da Forlì and Antoniazzo Romano might be clearer than it is....

Article

Phyllis Pray Bober

(b Bologna, 1474–5; d Bologna, Nov 19, 1552).

Italian painter, sculptor, illuminator, printmaker and draughtsman . He was born into a family of painters, and his youthful facility reportedly astonished his contemporaries. His work developed in the Emilian–Ferrarese tradition of Ercole de’ Roberti, Lorenzo Costa the elder and, above all, Francesco Francia. Until the re-evaluation by Longhi, critical assessment of Amico’s oeuvre was over-reliant on literary sources, especially Vasari’s unsympathetic account of an eccentric, half-insane master working so rapidly with both hands (the ‘chiaro’ in one, the ‘scuro’ in the other) that he was able to finish decorating an entire house façade in one day.

Longhi presented Amico as a creative master whose expressive intensity and sensitive use of colour rescued Bolognese painting of the early 16th century from sterile echoes of Raphael. Today Aspertini is viewed as an influential precursor of Mannerism, and his highly individual study of antiquity has been brought to the fore by the publication of his sketchbooks. Amico was not a mere imitator of ancient artists, but their imaginative rival, whether in his grotesques derived from the decorations of Nero’s Domus Aurea in Rome (e.g. the Parma sketchbook and the borders of his ...

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

Ailsa Turner

[Alessio]

(b Florence, Oct ?14, 1425; d Florence, Aug 29, 1499).

Italian painter. Belonging to the generation of Florentine painters that followed Domenico Veneziano and Fra Filippo Lippi, he worked all his life in Florence and kept a notebook of commissions. He experimented with painting techniques, sometimes with unfortunate results. His sense of pattern and decoration was particularly suited to the design of mosaic, intarsia and stained glass.

Baldovinetti was the eldest son of a wealthy merchant and rejected the prospect of a career in commerce to become an artist. In 1448 he enrolled in the Compagnia di S Luca and the following year began to keep a notebook of commissions and transactions. His earliest attributable works, c. 1449, form part of the decoration of the doors of the silver cupboard (Florence, Mus. S Marco) formerly in the chapel of the Annunciation in SS Annunziata, Florence, for which Baldovinetti painted the Marriage at Cana, the Baptism and the Transfiguration; their traditional iconography was possibly determined by ...

Article

Lynette Bosch

[Pere Joan]

(fl 1477–92).

Spanish illuminator . He is known chiefly for his miniatures of Christ in Majesty (fol. 143v) and the Crucifixion (fol. 144r) in a Missal of Valencian use (Valencia, Archv Catedral, Cod. 97). This has been identified with a document of 1479 in which ‘Pere Joan’ was paid for his work on ‘la sede majestatis en el nuevo misal bisbal’. In the miniatures executed by him in this manuscript the Gothic style practised in Spain into the late 15th century has been abandoned in favour of a more naturalistic representational manner that incorporates Netherlandish elements. This more modern style has also been identified in other manuscripts attributed to Ballester. Among these are a Valencian Missal dated 1477 (London, BL, Add. MS. 34663) and a Missal of the use of Toledo (Toledo, Archv & Bib. Capitulares, MS. Res. 1). The latter was commissioned for Archbishop Alfonso Carrillo who died in ...

Article

Sheila Edmunds

[Baemler, Johann; Bemler, Hans]

(fl 1453–1504).

German illuminator and printer . He is listed in the Augsburg tax rolls from 1453 as a scribe and from 1477 as a printer. Bämler belonged to the guild of painters, glassmakers, woodcut-makers and goldbeaters, eventually achieving the rank of Zwollfer (director). Examples of his youthful work are two signed miniatures dated 1457 (New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib., MS. M.45) and a signed historiated initial on a detached Antiphonal leaf (Philadelphia, PA, Free Lib., Lewis M 67:3). Between 1466 and 1468 he rubricated and decorated with calligraphic and painted ornament four books printed in Strasbourg: a Latin Bible (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bib., Bibel-S.2°155), a copy of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologica (Munich, Bayer Staatsbib., 2° Inc. s.a.1146a) and two copies of St Augustine’s City of God (Chantilly, Mus. Condé, XXII.D.11, and Manchester, John Rylands U. Lib., no. 3218, Inc. 3A8).

Bämler’s knowledge of printing was probably acquired in Augsburg, in the shop of ...

Article

(fl second half of the 15th century).

Italian master builder and architect. During 1465 and 1466 his name appears in the wages book of the Ospedale Maggiore of Lodi, for which he produced doors, oculi and windows in terracotta. In 1479 he was appointed engineer of the city of Milan, and in 1489 he is mentioned as ducal engineer. He worked on the fortifications at Biasca in 1481, and in the same year Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan (reg 1476–94), recommended Battaggio and Giovanni Antonio Amadeo to succeed Guinoforte Solari as architect to the Fabbrica del Duomo. Amadeo was appointed, but Battaggio did not manage to enter the conservative Milanese workshop either then or two years later, when Ludovico Sforza proposed him in preference to Hans Niesenberger. In 1484 Conte Manfredo Landi III (d 1491) commissioned Battaggio and Agostino Fonduli to finish and decorate the façade of his palazzo in Piacenza (now the Palazzo dei Tribunali). This work included the window-frames, the string course bearing heads of Roman emperors and scenes of the marine thiasos and the ...

Article

Patrick M. de Winter

[Biauneveu, Andrieu]

(b Valenciennes, c. 1335; d ?Bourges, 1401–3).

South Netherlandish sculptor, painter, and illuminator. He possibly trained with, or in the circle of, Jean Pépin de Huy. He is presumably the ‘Master Andrieu the painter’ mentioned in the accounts of Yolande, Duchesse de Bar, as working intermittently between 1359 and 1362 in the chapel of her castle at Nieppe (destr.). In 1361–2 ‘Master Andrieu the carver’ restored the console of a statue (both destr.) in the aldermen’s hall in Valenciennes. By October 1364 and until June 1366 he is recorded in Paris, working with assistants for King Charles V, who spoke of him as ‘our esteemed Andrieu Biauneveu, our sculptor’. The monarch commissioned from him four tombs for Saint-Denis Abbey, for which he paid 4700 gold francs: tombs for his paternal grandparents Philip VI (reg 1328–50) and Joan of Burgundy (1294–1348); for his father, John II; and for himself (first mentioned on 12 December 1364...

Article

Eberhard König

Richly illuminated Book of Hours (London, BL, Add. MS. 1885) made for an unknown patron of the French royal court (possibly the dauphin Louis, Duc de Guyenne (1396–1415). The manuscript may have been made in several stages between 1410–20.The Hours were adapted to the use of Anne of Burgundy and her husband John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford and governor of France, after their marriage in 1423. In 1430, the book was given by Anne to Henry VI as a Christmas gift, in Rouen, after he had been crowned King of France in Paris. But it stayed in France, bearing the arms of Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici. It has a Parisian text with a cycle of 33 large miniatures, the borders have additional scenes connected with the main subject, and all are by the painter called Masters, anonymous, and monogrammists family.

The text pages display more than 1200 marginal miniatures in a unique iconography. The calendar visually plays with the names of the months and the Offices are decorated with three cycles of paired medallions. The first cycle consists of scenes from the Gospels paired with scenes from the Old Testament; the second pairs scenes from the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles with scenes from later Christian history; and the third pairs scenes from the Apocalypse with their moralizations. The suffrages at the end are accompanied by scenes from the lives and martyrdom of the saints. All of these were painted by Parisian painters such as the ...

Article

(b Bergamo, c. 1458; fl Venice, 1543).

Italian printer and publisher of books and prints. He settled in Venice c. 1480 and in 1483 was running a bookshop at the sign of St Jerome in the Merceria and published the Supplementum chronicarum of Jacobus Philippus Foresti (Bergomensis; 1434–1520). Between then and 1543, the year of the publication of Girolamo Savonarola’s Trattato dell’amor di Gesù, he published (alone or with other publishers) over 100 texts of Classical and contemporary authors, treatises on law and medicine, as well as several books of a religious nature, mostly in Latin. Among the most famous illustrated works are those of Dante Alighieri (1491) and Ovid (1493–4). After c. 1500 Benalio’s publishing activity declined (c. 40 post-1500 publications are known), perhaps pushed into second place by his new interest, the publication and marketing of prints. For this purpose he opened a branch at Padua, entrusting its management to a relative, ...

Article

(fl 1388; d after 1450).

Italian painter and illuminator. Milanese writers from the humanist Uberto Decembrio (1350–1427) to Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo in the 16th century described Michelino as the greatest artist of his time. He was especially praised for his skill and prodigious talent in the naturalistic portrayal of animals and birds. Records of payments made in 1388 to a ‘Michelino pictore’ who painted scenes from the Life of St Augustine in the second cloister of the Augustinian convent of S Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, Pavia, are thought to be the earliest references to the artist. He was still resident in Pavia in 1404, when the Fabbrica (Cathedral Works) of Milan Cathedral decided to consult him as ‘the greatest in the arts of painting and design’. The frescoes in S Pietro in Ciel d’Oro and a panel by Michelino dated 1394 that was in S Mustiola, Pavia, in the 17th century have not survived, but two of the manuscripts with illumination firmly attributed to Michelino date from his time in Pavia: St Augustine’s ...

Article

Charles M. Rosenberg

Italian illuminated manuscript, made in Ferrara between 1455 and 1461. The manuscript (Modena, Bib. Estense, MS. V.G. 12–13, lat. 422–3) consists of two full-folio volumes of 311 and 293 leaves respectively and contains more than 1000 individual illuminations; it has been termed an encylopedia of 15th-century Ferrarese illumination. The text is written in two columns in a fine Renaissance hand by the Bolognese scribe Pietro Paolo Marone. The contract for illumination of the Bible was given to Taddeo Crivelli and Franco dei Russi in 1455. Two rates of payment were specified, one for normal pages and one for ‘principii’ or incipits. The contract, known from two 18th-century copies, also stipulated that the incipits should be ‘as magnificent as the manuscript deserves’, a phrase that seems to reflect the aesthetic ambitions of the patron, Borso d’Este. On every page of the manuscript is at least one figurative illumination as well as dense border decorations. The incipits for each book of the Bible are much more elaborately illuminated, with larger and more numerous miniatures. At the beginning of the project Taddeo and Franco were lent a French Bible, probably the ...

Article

Bihzad  

Priscilla P. Soucek

[Kamāl al-Dīn Bihzād; Behzad]

(b c. 1450; d Tabriz, 1535–6).

Persian illustrator. The most famous master of Persian painting, he is important both for the paintings he executed and for the wider influence of the style associated with his name. Evidently orphaned at a young age, Bihzad is said to have been raised and trained by Mirak, a painter and calligrapher employed in Herat by Sultan Husayn (see Timurid family §II, (8) and Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(d)) and his minister ‛Alishir Nava’i. The earliest literary reference to Bihzad’s work is contained in the Khulāṣat al-akḥbār (‘Essences of the eminent’), a history of the Timurid dynasty composed by Khwandamir in 1499–1500 but recounting events before 1471. Khwandamir described Bihzad as one of several skilled painters associated with these two patrons. The senior artist among them was Bihzad’s teacher, Mirak, but greatest praise was reserved for another painter, Qasim ‛Ali. By 1524, when Khwandamir completed his general history, Habīb al-siyar...