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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

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Ian Campbell

(b c. 1510; d after 1571).

Italian architect, engineer, theorist and writer. He was the son of Giacopo Cataneo, a stationer from Novara. The earliest secure date for his activity (23 March 1533) occurs in his sketchbook (Florence, Uffizi, U 3275-3391 A), which has the general character of an exercise-book and hence of a youthful work. Virtually every drawing in it is copied from the treatises of Francesco di Giorgio Martini. The first 42 folios include drawings of ornaments and civil architecture from Francesco’s codices Ashburnham (Florence, Bib. Laurenziana) and Saluzziano (Turin, Bib. Reale), while the remaining 64 folios contain drawings of fortifications and machines derived from the Codex Magliabechiano (Florence, Bib. N.). A peculiarity of the drawings of fortifications is their frequent juxtaposition with calligraphic exercises, the intention of which seems primarily decorative. It is as a ‘scrittore’ that Cataneo first appears in Sienese communal records in 1539, and also as ‘computista’, which looks forward to his first publication, ...

Article

Celia Carrington Riely

[Ch’en Chi-ju; zi Zhongshun; hao Meigong, Meidaoren, Migong]

(b Huating, Jiangsu Province [modern Songjiang, Shanghai Municipality], 16 Dec 1558; d 19 Oct 1639). Chinese editor, writer, calligrapher and painter. He exemplified the literati ideal of the accomplished gentleman–scholar who rejected the sordid world of political involvement and devoted himself to a life of literary, artistic and philosophical pursuit. At the age of 28, having passed the prefectural examination, the first important step leading to a career in government office, Chen renounced official life in a dramatic gesture, by burning his Confucian cap and gown. Thereafter he lived at country retreats at Kunshan and then Mt She, near Huating in Jiangsu Province: entertaining guests; writing and editing; composing the poems, prefaces, epitaphs and biographies for which he was in constant demand; and travelling to places of scenic beauty in the company of friends.

Chen followed the lead of his close friend Dong Qichang, the foremost painter, calligrapher and connoisseur of the late Ming period (...

Article

Tereza-Irene Sinigalia

(b Suceava, ?mid-16th century; d Dragomirna Monastery, Moldavia, 1629).

Romanian calligrapher, illuminator and writer. He was Metropolitan of Moldavia (1608–17; 1619–29) and the founder of Dragomirna Monastery (1609), where he initiated a scriptorium remarkable for the stylistic unity of the work produced over two decades. The great similarity of the works has caused them to be attributed to Crimca, although some scholars have disputed this. The accepted opinion is that nine codices can be attributed to him: five of these are at Dragomirna Monastery, three are in Bucharest, and the Acts of the Apostles (1610) is in Vienna (Österreich. Nbib.)

Crimca assimilated elements from the copyists’ tradition, from Moldavian mural painting of the time and from apocryphal and popular texts, and in so doing he widened the thematic repertory and adopted the formula of full-page narrative illustration interspersed with the text. He replaced plastic modelling with a graphic device based on groups of parallel lines arranged in various ways, with the extensive use of gold to enhance the whole page. The finesse of the drawing and general decorativeness of the images make Crimca’s work, and that of the ...

Article

Blanca García Vega

(b Alcázar de San Juan, c. 1565; d Madrid, 1636).

Spanish calligrapher and woodcutter. He lived in Toledo from 1591 and settled in Madrid in 1612. Renowned as a calligrapher, he devised a new system for teaching writing, the Arte nueva de escribir. In collaboration with Adrian Boon (fl 1602–18) he produced a series of plates for this work, showing ornate examples of calligraphy. These were realized using a woodcut technique, usually in negative, as a white image on a black background. Interpersed with human figures, animals, birds, fish and ornamental lettering, they are the last Spanish examples of didactic woodcuts, a technique that was to become relegated to portraying popular subjects. A copper-plate engraving of the Sea of Love, signed Morante and dated 1636, may be by a son of the same name.

Arte nueva de escribir, 5 vols (Madrid, 1616–31) Ceán Bermúdez E. Cotarelo y Mori: Diccionario de calígrafos españoles (Madrid, 1914–16) J. Ainaud de Lasarte...

Article

Alison Stones

Legends and myths in medieval art are often symbolic rather than narrative, appearing as isolated representations on monuments and portable objects and following the tradition of Greek vase painting where individual subjects are depicted and rely on prior knowledge of the stories for recognition and understanding. World histories celebrated great heroes of the past, starting with Creation and biblical history, then the ancient and medieval world with the exploits of the Trojan heroes, Alexander the Great, King Arthur and the campaigns of Charlemagne and his nephew Roland. Northern gods such as Thor were depicted in cult statues (c. 1000; Reykjavík, N. Mus.) or through such ornamental hammers as those from north Jutland in the Copenhagen Nationalmuseum, and Freya, head of the Valkyries, was painted riding a cat on the walls of Schleswig Cathedral.

The Fall of Troy is most celebrated in the early 13th-century copy of Heinrich von Veldecke’s ...

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

Esin Atil

[Naṣūḥ al-Silāḥī al-Matrāqī; Naṣūḥ ibn Qaragöz ibn ‛Abdallāh al-Būsnawī]

(b Visoko, Bosnia; fl 1517; d April 28, 1564).

Ottoman soldier, writer, copyist and illustrator. He initiated the topographical style of painting that became characteristic of the illustrated histories produced at the Ottoman court in the 1550s (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(e)). As a youth he was recruited into the imperial service in a forced levy (devşirme) and was trained as a page in the household of Sultan Bayezid II (reg 1481–1512). He later served as an officer in the Ottoman army, where he was noted as a swordsman. He was also celebrated as the inventor of new forms of the game of matrak, played by throwing sticks or weapons as a form of military training.

Nasuh was a prolific writer on mathematics, swordsmanship and history. In 1520 he began the translation from Arabic into Turkish of al-Tabari’s Majura‛ al-tawārīkh (‘Compendium of histories’), to which he added a section covering the history of the Ottomans to ...

Article

[Kristoffel; Stoffel]

(b Zurich, Feb 1558; d Winterthur, March 27, 1614).

Swiss glass painter, woodcut designer, etcher, book illustrator and writer. He was the son and pupil of the glass painter and councillor Jos Murer (1530–80), founder of a family of artists who lived in Zurich in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1577 he collaborated with his father on a cycle of 13 pairs of panes representing Thirteen Historic Scenes of the Swiss Confederation for the Zisterzienkloster of Wettingen, Aargau. Christoph’s monograms (sm, stm) are on three panes. He probably followed this work with study travels. In 1579 he designed a cycle of panes in Basle for the well-known citizen Leonhard Thurneysser (1531–96), celebrating the adventurous life of this much-travelled goldsmith, alchemist, astrologer and personal physician to the Elector of Brandenburg. Of the original cycle, two paintings, including the Birth of Leonhard Thurneysser of Basle in 1531 (1579; Basle, Öff. Kstsamml.), and two design sketches (?...

Article

Jeffrey Chipps Smith

(b ?Nuremberg, 1497; d ?Nuremberg, 1563).

German writer, calligrapher and mathematician. He was renowned as a strict teacher of arithmetic and geometry. His calligraphic talents were recognized early. Albrecht Dürer, who lived on the same street until 1509, probably used his designs for the scripts in his woodcuts of the Map of the Eastern Hemisphere (1515) and of the portrait of Ulrich Varnbüler (1522), his painting of the Four Apostles (1526; Munich, Alte Pin.) and possibly in the woodcuts of the Triumphal Arch of Emperor Maximilian I (1515) and those illustrating his Etliche Underricht, zu Befestigung der Stett, Schloss und Flecken (Nuremberg, 1527). In 1519 Neudörfer published his Fundament … seinen Schulern zu einer Unterweysung gemacht (Nuremberg), the first writing manual printed in Germany, and in 1538 he completed his finest treatise, Eine gute Ordnung, a catalogue of styles of script, ways of holding a pen and the correct manner of forming letters. He published two other treatises on writing in Nuremberg in ...

Article

Cecil H. Uyehara

[Sanmyakuin]

(b 1565; d 1614).

Japanese government official, poet, painter and calligrapher. Together with Hon’ami Kōetsu (see Hon’ami family §(1)) and Shōkadō Shōjō, Nobutada is recognized as one of the Kan’ei no Sanpitsu (‘Three Brushes of the Kan’ei [1624–44] era’), despite his death a decade earlier. The Konoe family belonged to the powerful Hokke branch of the Fujiwara family; Nobutada was the son of Fujiwara [Konoe] Sakihisa, a court official. He became Minister of the Left at the age of 21, but resigned this post in 1592 after a disagreement with the then Regent, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He participated without permission in Hideyoshi’s ill-fated invasion of Korea in 1592, incurring imperial displeasure, and in 1594 was exiled to Satsuma in southern Kyushu. He returned to Kyoto in 1596, however, regained his ministerial portfolio and became Regent in 1605. He was one of the best-known calligraphers of his time. He studied Zen Buddhism at Daitokuji in Kyoto, which undoubtedly influenced his approach to calligraphy. While he was initially trained in the Shōren’in tradition of calligraphy (...

Article

Enrique Valdivièso

(b Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, 1564; d Seville, 1644).

Spanish painter and writer. He is not considered to be a great painter, but he is remembered for his theoretical work Arte de la pintura. The book is the most important contribution to Spanish artistic theory in the 17th century.

From his earliest years he lived in Seville in the care of his uncle, also Francisco Pacheco, who was a canon of Seville Cathedral. Having served his apprenticeship with Luis Fernández (fl 1542–81) around 1580, by 1585 Pacheco was already working as a master painter and was becoming known for his interest in humanist studies, especially literature, and poetry in particular. From his youth he was familiar with the clerics and the intelligentsia of Seville, and it was through these connections that he received commissions for paintings. As a result of his intimacy with the clergy he enthusiastically defended iconographic orthodoxy, and this led to a strict and unvarying formula for his compositions and a certain coldness of expression. His visit to Castile in ...

Article

Thomas Tolley

[Jean de Paris; Master of Charles VIII]

(b ?1450–60; d Paris, after April 5, 1530).

French painter, illuminator, sculpture designer and architect. The most celebrated and best-documented French artist of his time, Perréal was painter and valet de chambre to three kings of France, Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I. In the earliest reliable document to mention him, of 1485, he was a resident of Lyon and painted two escutcheons for use during the celebrations for the entry of Charles of Bourbon into the city. Throughout his career he devoted considerable time to designing props for staging such ceremonial events. Perréal visited Italy on at least four occasions and recorded that he studied ancient remains there. In 1514 he was sent to England to negotiate the marriage of Louis XII and his second wife, Mary Tudor, and to ensure that her wardrobe conformed to French taste. According to Dupont, a portrait of Louis XII in the British Royal Collection (Windsor Castle, Berks) was painted by Perréal and brought to England at this time. Considered by Sterling to be a copy, this portrait is one of few panels that can still be associated with Perréal, who during his lifetime was highly praised for his abilities as a portrait painter....

Article

Celia Carrington Riely

revised by Katharine Burnett

[Tung Ch’i-ch’ang; zi Xuanzai; hao Sibo, Siweng, Xiangguang, Xiangguang jushi; Wenmin]

(b Shanghai, Feb 10, 1555; d Dec 1636).

Chinese painter, calligrapher, connoisseur, theoretician, collector, and high official.

At the age of 12 Dong Qichang, the son of a local school teacher, passed the prefectural civil-service examination to qualify as a Government Student (shengyuan) and was awarded a coveted place in the prefectural school. Mortified, however, at being ranked below his younger kinsman Dong Chuanxu because of his clumsy calligraphy, from 1571 Dong resolved to study calligraphy in earnest. His initial models were rubbings of works by the Tang-period (618–907 ce) calligraphers Yan Zhenqing and Yu Shinan (558–638), but soon realizing the superior merits of the Six Dynasties (222–589 ce) calligraphers, he turned to the works of Zhong You (151–230 ce) and the great Wang Xizhi (see Wang family (i), (1)). After three years he was confident of having grasped their style, and no longer admired works by the Ming-period (...

Article

Sadiqi  

S. J. Vernoit

[Ṡādiqī; Ṡādiqī Beg; Ṡādiqī Beg Afshār]

(b Tabriz, 1533–4; d Isfahan, 1609–10).

Persian calligrapher, painter, poet and chronicler. He came from a notable family of the Khudabandalu Turkmen tribe. At the age of 32 he turned to art, studying under the poet–calligrapher Mir San‛i at Tabriz; in 1568 Sadiqi moved to the Safavid capital at Qazvin, where he studied painting with Muzaffar ‛Ali. Sadiqi rose quickly in the royal atelier. The last major manuscript produced for the Safavid ruler Tahmasp (reg 1524–76), a copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 12985) of Asadi’s Garshāspnāma (‘Book of Garshasp’), dated 1573–4, has one painting (fol. 85v) attributed to Sadiqi, and he played a leading role in illustrating the incomplete copy (dispersed) of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) made for Isma‛il II (reg 1576–8). The seven paintings ascribed to Sadiqi show such characteristics of his early style as distinct colouring, hard contours, flat architecture and rigid figure drawing. During the reign of Muhammad Khudabanda (...

Article

Ellen Johnston Laing

[Chun; Ch’en Shun; zi Daofu, Fufu; hao Baiyang, Baiyang Shanren]

(b Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, 1483; d 1544).

Chinese painter, calligrapher and poet. Born into a wealthy family of the scholar–official class, he is known for his landscapes (see fig.) and flower paintings. He was once a student of Wen Zhengming and was loosely associated with the Wu school.

He is best known for his landscapes in the style of the Northern Song-period (960–1127) master Mi Fu and his son, Mi Youren, and of their Yuan-period (1279–1368) interpreter, Gao Kegong (see fig.). The Mi style was rarely appreciated by Suzhou artists, but Chen’s affinity for it could be explained by the fact that his family owned a painting by Mi Youren. The style is characterized by cone-shaped or rounded hills composed of large, horizontal, wet blobs of ink applied in vertical layers. Chen added motifs and techniques borrowed from the Suzhou artist Shen Zhou, such as rhomboid plateaux outlined with dry brush lines and squat, blocky figures. Chen further modified the Mi style, giving it a rich, colouristic effect by introducing fluid colour washes and large blobs of blue and buff, as in his ...

Article

Xu Wei  

Vyvyan Brunst and James Cahill

[Hsü Wei; zi Wenchang]

(b Shanyin [modern Shaoxing], Zhejiang Province, March 12, 1521; d 1593).

Chinese painter, calligrapher, essayist, poet and Dramatist . He was born to the concubine of a minor official and was reared by his father’s second wife after his father’s death. In 1540 he passed the first test leading to higher government examinations. He was married the following year and moved with his wife’s family to Guangzhou (Canton). Xu retreated to a monastery in 1550, after the deaths of his wife and stepbrothers, and attempted the higher civil service examination but failed repeatedly. While in the monastery Xu Wei turned his energies to writing and painting, producing paintings, plays, poetry and essays on opera. His literary reputation resulted in his appointment as personal secretary to Hu Zongxian, the commander–governor of the south-east coastal provinces, a post he held until 1562, when his patron was accused of treason and imprisoned. Between 1552 and 1561 Xu Wei four times attempted the provincial examinations, the second stage in the civil service examinations, with no success. From ...

Article

Alice R. M. Hyland

[T’ang Yin; zi Bohu; hao Ziwei, Liuru]

(b Suzhou, April 6, 1470; d Suzhou, Jan 7, 1524).

Chinese painter, poet and calligrapher. He was born into the merchant class of Suzhou, where his father was a restaurateur, and although lacking social standing, he received an excellent education. He was a brilliant student and became the protégé of Wen Lin (1445–99), the father of Wen Zhengming. His friends in Suzhou scholarly circles included Shen Zhou, Wu Kuan (1436–1504) and Zhu Yunming. In 1498 Tang Yin came first in the provincial examinations in Nanjing, the second stage in the civil service examination ladder. The following year he went to Beijing to sit the national examinations, but he and his friend Xu Jing (d 1507) were accused of bribing the servant of one of the chief examiners to give them the examination questions in advance. All parties were jailed, and Tang Yin returned to Suzhou in disgrace, his justifiably high hopes for a distinguished civil service career dashed forever....