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 (...
Wheeler M. Thackston
[Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad al-Ḥusaynī al-Mashhadī]
(b Mashhad; fl 1550–74; d Mazandaran, 1578).
Persian calligrapher. He belonged to a family of Husayni sayyids, or descendants of the Prophet, and his father was a chandler. He was trained in calligraphy at Herat by Mir ‛Ali Husayni Haravi. When Mir ‛Ali was taken to Bukhara by the Uzbeks in 1529, Mir Sayyid Ahmad followed his master and was employed in the workshop of ‛Abd al-‛Aziz Khan, Shaybanid ruler of Bukhara. After the Khan’s death in 1550, Mir Sayyid Ahmad returned to Iran. For some years he served the Safavid shah Tahmasp (reg 1524–76) before retiring to Mashhad, where he taught calligraphy. When Tahmasp revoked his pension, Mir Sayyid Ahmad lived in penury until Mir Murad Khan, governor of Mazandaran province, visited Mashhad in 1557 and invited the calligrapher to his court. After Mir Murad Khan’s death, Mir Sayyid Ahmad returned again to Mashhad. He was in charge of assembling the Amir Ghayb Beg Album (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2161), a splendid album of painting and calligraphy completed in ...
Sheila R. Canby
[ Mīr Zayn al-‛Ābidīn Tabrīzī ]
( fl c. Qazvin, 1570–1602).
Persian illustrator, illuminator and calligrapher . The grandson and pupil of Sultan-Muhammad , Zayn al-‛Abidin worked exclusively for royal and noble patrons at the Safavid court in Qazvin ( see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a) ). He contributed an illustration of Nariman Killing the Ruler of China to a copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 12985; fol. 90v) of Asadi’s Gārshāspnāma (‘Book of Garshasp’) produced at Qazvin in 1573 and four paintings to a dispersed copy of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) made for Isma‛il II (reg 1576–8). The artist’s style is characterized by solid forms, extreme precision and compositions that resemble the style typical of Tabriz in the first half of the 16th century rather than the more mannered one typical of Qazvin in the 1570s. His best known illumination is the splendid signed frontispiece for the unfinished copy (Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 277) of the Shāhnāma, thought to have been commissioned upon the accession of ‛Abbas I in ...
Milo Cleveland Beach and Jonathan M. Bloom
revised by Sheila S. Blair
[(Khwāja) ‛Abd al-Ṣamad; ‛Abd as-Ṣamad; Abdus Ṣamad]
(fl c. 1540–95).
Iranian miniature painter and calligrapher, active also in India. Trained in Safavid Iran, ‛Abd al-Samad migrated to India, where he became director of the Mughal painting workshops under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605). In this key position, he influenced the development of Mughal painting in the second half of the 16th century more than any other artist (see Indian subcontinent §VI 4., (i), (b)).
No inscribed works by ‛Abd al-Samad are known from the period when he worked in Safavid Iran, though attributions have been proposed, such as a depiction of the assassination of Khusraw Parviz from the copy of the Shāhnāma made for Shah Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76). Already a mature painter, he paid homage in 1544 to Akbar’s father, the Mughal emperor Humayun (reg 1530–40; 1555–6), when the exiled ruler was given refuge at the court of the Safavid shah Tahmasp at Tabriz. In ...
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....
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’....
Sheila R. Canby
[Mīr Sayyid ‛Alī-i Tabrīzī]
(b Tabriz, c. 1510; d Mecca, after 1572).
Persian painter, active also in India. He was the son of the Safavid-period painter Mir Musavvir. Though Qazi Ahmad, writing in the late 16th century, deemed him cleverer in art than his father, Mir Sayyid ‛Ali reveals paternal influence in his meticulous rendering of ornamental patterns and details. As he was a junior artist at the time of the royal Shāhnāma of c. 1525–35 (dispersed, see Dickson and Welch), his contribution to this was limited. Only two miniatures (fols 135v and 568r; priv. col. and New York, Met., respectively; see 1979–80 exh. cat., nos 20 and 33) are attributed to him, and possibly passages in other works by Sultan Muhammad and Aqa Mirak. By the time of the illustration of the Khamsa (‘Five poems’) of Nizami of 1539–42 (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265), Mir Sayyid ‛Ali was a first-rank Safavid court artist, painting four (or possibly five) miniatures, three (or possibly four) of which were subsequently removed from the manuscript (Cambridge, MA, Sackler Mus., 1958.75 and 1958.76; Edinburgh, Royal Mus. Scotland, ...
Sheila S. Blair
[Mīrzā ‛Alī ibn Sulṭān-Muḥammad]
(b ?Tabriz, c. 1510; d before 1576).
Persian illustrator. According to the Safavid chronicler Qazi Ahmad, during the lifetime of the famous painter Sultan-Muhammad, his son Mirza ‛Ali worked in the library of the Safavid ruler Tahmasp I and had no match in figural and decorative painting and in portraiture. The Ottoman historian Mustafa ‛Ali placed Mirza ‛Ali at the head of the list of designers and called him a celebrated master and painter. Two paintings in the magnificent copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265, fols 48v and 77v) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’) made for Tahmasp in 1539–43 are ascribed to Mirza ‛Ali. Their realism, logical arrangement of space and psychological insight led Dickson and Welch to attribute other works to the artist and trace a long career, stretching into the 1570s. They suggested that in the 1530s and 1540s Mirza ‛Ali worked on the major manuscripts produced for the Safavid court, contributing six paintings to the monumental copy (ex-Houghton priv. col., fols 18...
Sheila S. Blair
[Muẓaffar ‛Alī ibn Haydar ‛Alī al-Tabrīzī]
(fl late 1520s–70s; d Qazvin, c. 1576).
Persian calligrapher, illustrator, painter and poet. He was a versatile artist who belonged to the second generation working for Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76) at the Safavid court in north-west Iran (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a)). His career has been reconstructed by Dickson and Welch on the basis of brief notices by Safavid artists and historians, signed calligraphies and ascribed paintings. He studied calligraphy with the master Rustam ‛Ali, and several folios in the album compiled for Bahram Mirza in 1544–5 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2154) are signed jointly by Rustam ‛Ali for the writing and Muzaffar ‛Ali for the découpage (Arab. qat‛). He was a master of nasta‛lıq script, and two examples in the album prepared for Amir Ghayb Beg in 1564–5 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2161) are signed by him. In the introduction to this album, Malik Daylami wrote of his skill in calligraphic decoration and gold illumination, and the chronicler Qazi Ahmad reported that he also excelled in gold-flecking, gilding and varnished painting. Muzaffar ‛Ali reportedly studied painting with the renowned master ...
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 ...
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 ...
Term used to refer to a collection of maps, printed in a set order: world map, maps of the continents, each followed by maps of the several regions within that continent, and with an alphabetical gazetteer, or list of place-names, giving coordinates for the various names of places, rivers, regions etc. The first use of the term ‘atlas’ dates from 1595, with the publication in Duisburg of the Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura by Gerard Mercator (1512–94). Mercator’s prestige as the premier cartographer of his time made the term part of general usage.
The prototype of modern atlases is the set of maps included with medieval editions of Claudius Ptolemy’s Geographia (2nd century
[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....
Isabel Mateo Gómez
(b ?Toledo; d 1595).
Spanish painter, miniaturist, sculptor, architect and writer. He belongs to the Toledan school of the second half of the 16th century. The son of the painter Lorenzo de Ávila, he developed a Mannerist style that is smooth and delicate and derives from his father’s and from that of Juan Correa de Vivar and of Francisco Comontes (d 1565). He worked as painter to Toledo Cathedral from 1565 to 1581 and was painter (Pintor del Rey) to Philip II from 1583. He acted frequently as a valuer for the work of other artists.
Between 1563 and 1564, in collaboration with Luis de Velasco, Hernando de Ávila painted the retable of the church of Miraflores (Madrid Province) with the Life of Christ and the Life of the Virgin (untraced); these are probably among his earliest works. He was commissioned to paint the retables of St John the Baptist and the ...
Milo Cleveland Beach
(fl c. 1556–1600).
Indian miniature painter. One of the great talents to flourish under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605), he was a prolific painter who contributed to virtually all the great illustrated manuscripts executed in the imperial workshops over a span of some 40 years. While most Mughal artists were concerned with the importance of line, colour and surface pattern, Basawan, with a greater understanding of the techniques of imported European works, developed a palette closer to that of European oil painting and dissolved outlines to create greater three-dimensionality. In his work, surface patterns are subservient to a dramatic spatial penetration of the picture plane. These traits were quite new within both Indian and Islamic traditions, and Basawan led the vanguard in adopting them. His work is remarkable also for the complexity of his compositions, his skill at giving roundness and density to his figures and his sensitive portrait-like faces. A contemporary assessment of Basawan is found in the ...
Fiorella Sricchia Santoro
(di Giacomo di Pace)
(b Cortine in Valdibiana Montaperti, 1484; d Siena, between Jan and May 1551).
Italian painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker and illuminator. He was one of the protagonists, perhaps even the most precocious, of Tuscan Mannerism, which he practised with a strong sense of his Sienese artistic background but at the same time with an awareness of contemporary developments in Florence and Rome. He responded to the new demand for feeling and fantasy while retaining the formal language of the early 16th century. None of Beccafumi’s works is signed or dated, but his highly personal maniera has facilitated almost unanimous agreement regarding the definition of his corpus and the principal areas of influence on it. However, some questions concerning the circumstances of his early career and the choices available to him remain unanswered. The more extreme forms of Beccafumi’s reckless experimentation underwent a critical reappraisal only in the later 20th century.
The primary sources of information concerning Beccafumi are Vasari’s biography (1568) and archival findings, mostly 19th century, relating to the artist. Vasari, although a direct acquaintance of Beccafumi in his last years and in a position to gather information from mutual friends, was, predictably, unreliable in regard to his early career. According to Vasari, Mecherino, the son of a poor farmer named Giacomo di Pace, became the protégé of ...
(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, ...
[Benig; Beninc; Bieninc; Binnink].
South Netherlandish family of illuminators. No documented work is known by (1) Sanders Bening, but he was undoubtedly a successful artist. Work previously attributed to various unknown masters has now provisionally been accepted as by him. He married Kathelijn van der Goes, probably a sister or niece of the painter Hugo van der Goes, and his own sister married Goswijn van der Weyden. Sanders and his wife had two sons, (2) Simon Bening, who was trained in his father’s craft, and Paul Bening, whose profession is unknown. For Simon Bening, unlike his father, there is not only documentary evidence from numerous sources but also a reconstructed oeuvre that distinguishes him as one of the finest illuminators of his time. Both names have been mentioned as among the artists who produced illustrations for the Grimani Breviary (Venice, Bib. N. Marciana, MS Lat. I.99). Simon was twice married; by his first wife, Katherine Scroo (...
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...