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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

[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

Joan Isobel Friedman

(b Florence, May 1265; d Ravenna, ?14 ?Sept 1321).

Italian writer. He is universally recognized as the greatest poet of the Middle Ages. His masterpiece, the Divine Comedy (begun 1307 or 1314), contains many passages in which Dante expressed his appreciation of painting and sculpture, and the themes in the poem have challenged artists from the 14th century to the present day.

Dante was the only child of a notary, Alighiero II, son of Bellincione degli Alighieri and his first wife Bella. The Alighieris were descendants of the Elisei, an ancient and noble Florentine family. Dante may have studied at Bologna University, but he admitted to having taught himself the art of versifying. About 1283 he married Gemma di Manetto Donati, who bore him four children. His sons Pietro and Jacopo wrote commentaries on the Divine Comedy.

Dante met Bice Portinari, whom he called Beatrice, in 1274. He recorded his love for her in La vita nuova, c....

Article

Béla Zsolt Szakács

Luxuriously illustrated hagiographical picture book from the 14th century. The codex is fragmented; the biggest part is preserved in the Vatican (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, Vat. Lat. 8541, 106 fols),while single pages are kept in St Petersburg (Hermitage, 16930–16934), Berkeley (U. CA, Bancroft Lib., f2MSA2M21300–37), New York (Met., 1994.516) and Paris (Louvre, RF 29940), and 85 miniatures are in the Morgan Library, New York (M.360.1–26).

Presently 549 miniatures of the original of more than 700 are known on 142 folios. The manuscript consists of pictures exclusively, without the full texts of the legends; one-line tituli are written in rubrics beside the images. The 58 existing cycles depict the life of Christ, the Death of the Virgin, and the legends of John the Baptist, the apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins and holy women in hierarchical order. The narrative follows the Legenda aurea or Golden Legend of Jacopo da Voragine and, in the cases of Eastern and Central European saints (Gerhard of Csanád, Ladislas, Emeric, Stanislas), other local legends, creating an extraordinarily rich iconographic treasury. The longest cycle is dedicated to James the Greater, originally with 72 scenes; other legends consist of between 2 and 24 scenes. The selection of saints points to a commission from the Hungarian Angevin court. Its style, typical of the second quarter of the 14th century, is closest to Bolognese manuscripts but with unique features, and as such Hungary has also been proposed as the place of execution....

Article

Artistic manifestations of Arthurian legends antedate surviving textual traditions and sometimes bear witness to stories that have not survived in written form. Thus the Tristan sculptures (c. 1102–17) carved on a column from the north transept of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela show that the story was in circulation at least a generation before the earliest surviving written text was composed. The one surviving manuscript of Béroul’s Tristan is unillustrated, while the fragments of Thomas’s version include a single historiated initial showing Tristan playing the harp (Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Fr. d. 16, fol. 10). Although Eilhart von Oberge’s Tristrant, composed in the late 12th century, is the earliest version of the Tristan story to survive complete, the only surviving illustrated copy dates from the 15th century (c. 1465–75; Heidelberg, UBib., Cpg 346), while the Munich manuscript of Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan was made in south Germany ...

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

Joan Isobel Friedman

(b ?nr Florence, 1313; d Certaldo, Dec 21, 1375).

Italian writer. He was the natural child of an unknown mother and Boccaccino di Chellino, a merchant banker. At the age of 14 Boccaccio was sent to Naples and apprenticed to a Florentine counting house; subsequently he attended the University of Naples, where he studied canon law and met many of the city’s leading scholars and humanists, including Paolo da Perugia, Andalo del Negro, and Cino da Pistoia. Boccaccio’s desire to pursue a literary career eventually supplanted all other interests. One of the most influential writers of the 14th century, he is now known primarily for his works in Italian, in particular the Decameron. During his lifetime, however, such works in Latin as De claris mulieribus (1361), De casibus virorum illustrium (1355–60), and the immensely influential encyclopedia De genealogia deorum gentilium (written 1350–60; revised 1371–4) were the major sources of his fame and were often the subject of manuscript and book illustrations, especially in the 15th century....

Article

Lucy Freeman Sandler

Group of twelve manuscripts, primarily Psalter and Book of Hours, nearly all illustrated by in-house artists for members of the Bohun family in the second half of the 14th century. The owner–patrons were the successive earls of Essex, Hereford and Northampton: Humphrey de Bohun VI (1309–61), the 6th Earl of Hereford and 5th Earl of Essex and his nephew Humphrey de Bohun VII (1342–73), the 7th earl of Essex and 2nd Earl of Northampton, Humphrey VII’s wife Joan Fitzalan (d 1419) and their daughters Eleanor (1366–99), who married Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester (see Plantagenet, House of family §(5)), son of King Edward III, and Mary (c. 1369–94), who married Henry of Bolingbroke (1366–1413; from 1399 King Henry IV), son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. Known to have been active between c. 1360 and ...

Article

Masatomo Kawai

[Gyokukei]

(1348–c. 1420).

Japanese Zen monk, scholar, calligrapher, poet and painter. He began his training as a monk at Nanzenji in Kyoto, under Shun’oku Myōha, the nephew and disciple of Musō Sōseki, one of the leading Zen prelates of the Muromachi period (1333–1568). His other teachers included the Zen recluse Shakushitsu Genkō and Gidō Shūshin, under whom he studied literature. A trusted adviser of the fourth Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimochi, Gyokuen was appointed to the prestigious abbacies of Kenninji (c. 1409) and Nanzenji (1413) in Kyoto. His true wish, however, was to retire from the world, and in 1420, after a disagreement with Yoshimochi, he left Kyoto to lead a life of seclusion. An accomplished poet, Gyokuen also brushed colophons on many shigajiku (poem-painting scrolls) of the period, including Josetsu’s Catching a Catfish with a Gourd (c. 1413–15; Kyoto, Myōshinji). His own painting, which shows the influence of the mid-14th-century Chinese priest–painter Xue Chuang and of Tesshū Tokusai, strongly reflects his literary disposition. He is especially well known for his subdued monochrome ink paintings of orchids (emblems of moral virtue), 30 of which have survived (...

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

Alison Beringer

Typological work conceived and produced by the German Cistercian Ulrich von Lilienfeld and completed between 1351 and 1358. It contains material for sermons organized de Tempore and de Sanctis and the Commune sanctorum followed by a shorter final section consisting of sermon material on the Ten Commandments and a pictorial cycle covering various religious topics (e.g. vices and virtues) that Munscheck has recently termed a Bilderkatechismus. According to the prologue, the work is intended to aid the simple and poor clergy suffering from a lack of resources: Boreczky argues that this probably meant the lay brothers and monks of Lilienfeld (see Lilienfeld Abbey). Influenced among others by the Biblia pauperum, the Speculum humanae salvationis, the Rota in medio rotae, Vincent de Beauvais’s Speculum naturale and the work of Christian von Lilienfeld, the Concordantiae caritatis is especially significant for its consistent inclusion of allegories from the natural world.

Six illustrated and at least 36 unillustrated manuscripts survive, including the original (Lilienfeld, Stiftsbib., Codex Campililiensis 151), which has more than 1220 illustrations spread over 245 folios. The pictures are colour-washed pen drawings by three artistic hands (for colour reproductions see Roland and Douteil). A typical illustrated page has a tripartite structure: the top section presents a New Testament (or Saint’s life) scene surrounded by four authority figures, the middle presents two Old Testament scenes and the lowest two scenes are from the natural world; all are read typologically. Brief text, including labels, is also contained in the illustrations....

Article

Janet Southorn

(b Bologna, c. 1233; d Bologna, between June 23, 1320 and Feb 25, 1321).

Italian writer. He studied logic, medicine, natural science, and law at the University of Bologna. After retiring from public life Crescenzio wrote the Liber ruralium commodorum (c. 1304–9), better known as the Trattato della agricoltura, the first agricultural treatise composed in Europe since the 5th century ad. Parts of an autograph manuscript (Bologna, Bib. U., MS. 1494) survive. The treatise enjoyed enormous success. It was translated into French in 1373 for King Charles V; the manuscript (Paris, Bib. Arsenal, MS. 5064) has 14 miniatures and coloured, decorated initials, embellished with gold. The Trattato was subsequently translated into most other European languages. The great number of manuscript copies (132 according to one estimate) that survive in libraries in Austria, England (e.g. Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Canon. Italiani 149), France (e.g. Dijon, Bib. Mun., MS. 453(271)), Germany, Holland, Italy (e.g. Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. lat. 7303), Poland, Switzerland, and Spain indicate its wide appeal both as a practical treatise and as a subject for manuscript illumination. The manuscripts contain several portraits of Crescenzio; in one (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. lat. 1529) he is depicted bareheaded, wearing a red overgarment and a green cowl, and presenting his work to the head of the Dominican Order. The ...

Article

Catherine Harding

(b Lomello, Dec 24, 1296; d Avignon, c. 1354).

Italian parish priest, manuscript illuminator and scholar. His drawings explored the connections between vision, reason and spirituality. In particular, he was drawn to the idea of training the ‘inner eye’ of reason, and he hoped that his images would provide tools for spiritual discernment. He worked as a schoolmaster and priest until 1329, when he fled Pavia for political reasons and entered the papal court in Avignon. One year later, he was employed as a scribe in the office of the papal penitentiary.

He produced two illuminated works, both of which are untitled (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, Pal. lat. 1993 and Vat. lat. 6435). The former, known simply as the Palatinus manuscript, encompasses 52 large individual parchment sheets drawn in pen and ink with images on both sides; they feature schematic compositions that combine portolan charts, zodiacs, calendars and human figures, to form complex composite images. The second work, the Vaticanus manuscript, is done in pen and ink on paper and is more of an author’s daybook, collecting thoughts, meditations and images on a variety of topics. His work was not known until the publication of the Palatinus manuscript by R. G. Salomon in ...

Article

Sandra L. Hindman

[Pisan]

(b Venice, c. 1364; d Poissy, nr Paris, ?c. 1430).

Italian writer and publisher, active in France.

At the age of four Christine went with her father, Tommaso di Benvenuto da Pizzano (whose name reflects the origin of his family in the small town of Pizzano in the foothills of Bologna), to Paris, where he served as physician and astrologer to Charles V. In 1379 Christine married a French nobleman, Etienne Castel, who became a royal notary and secretary. She bore him three children before his death in 1389. Since her father had also died between 1384 and 1389, Christine was forced to support both herself and her family. Many women in her situation might have taken religious vows or remarried, but Christine determined to earn her living through her skills as a writer.

Initially she wrote love poetry, which she gathered together at the end of the 1390s in a volume called Cent balades. Although she continued occasionally to write love poetry, such as the ...

Article

Wang Fu  

Vyvyan Brunst and James Cahill

[zi Mengduan; hao Youshi]

(b Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, 1362; d Beijing, 1416).

Chinese painter, calligrapher and poet. Following early promise as a painter and poet, Wang Fu passed the provincial examinations—the second stage in the civil service examination ladder—to receive his juren degree in 1376. He went to Nanjing soon after to take up a government post, but in 1380 was banished to the northern frontier, near Datong, Shanxi Province, as the result of alleged political activity against the Ming (1368–1644) government. For the next 20 years Wang served as a frontier guard, after which he returned to the south to paint and write. From 1403 to 1412 he worked as a calligrapher in the imperial palace at Nanjing, and in 1414 he went to Beijing to join the Central Draughting Office; he died there two years later.

Accounts of Wang’s character and artistic skill have the ring of conventional formulae. It is said that he painted infrequently, while travelling and often when drunk. In spite of his reputation for eccentricity, his extant works reveal a diligent hand and serious application to his art. In his ...

Article

Fushimi  

Cecil H. Uyehara

(b 1265; reg 1287–98; d 1317).

Ninety-second emperor of Japan, calligrapher and poet. The second son of Emperor GoFukakusa (reg 1246–60), he abdicated in favour of his son GoFushimi (reg 1298–1301) in 1298 and later retired to a monastery. He was one of the most talented calligraphers among Japanese emperors and indeed one of the outstanding calligraphers of the Kamakura period (1185–1333). Instead of following the then popular calligraphy styles, he emulated those of the 10th-century masters, Ono no Michikaze and Fujiwara no Sari (see Fujiwara family, §1), two of the Sanseki (‘three brush traces’; Three Masters). He was regarded as a greater calligrapher than even the celebrated Fujiwara no Kōzei (see Fujiwara family, §2) of the later part of the Heian period (794–1185). Fushimi’s calligraphy eschewed strong, vigorous strokes and was instead clear, graceful and elegant. He developed a Wayō (native) style, which now bears his ...

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Richly illuminated manuscript of the Passover liturgy together with a series of liturgical poems to be read during the Passover week (London, BL, Add. MS. 27210), possibly made in Barcelona, c. 1320. This text was to be recited during the seder ceremony at the eve of the Passover holiday. Like most medieval Haggadot (see Haggadah), the Golden Haggadah has no colophon, and its scribe and patrons are unknown. It contains both marginal decorations and a series of full-page miniatures preceding the text and displaying a fully fledged cycle of biblical illustrations following the books of Genesis and Exodus from the Creation of Man to the Crossing of the Red Sea. Stylistically both types of decoration are indebted to early 14th-century Catalan Gothic art.

Similarly, the imagery of the biblical picture cycle also draws on Christian Old Testament iconography and reflects a familiarity with Christian art. The artists and patrons of the Golden Haggadah adopted Christian pictorial sources in a complex process of adaptation and modification, translating the Christian models into a Jewish visual language meaningful in its messages to the Jewish readership. Avoiding themes and iconographic features of a particular Christological concern, the imagery also reflects a close affinity with the traditions of late antique Bible interpretation (Midrash). This points to a specific circle of scholars active in Iberia during the 13th and early 14th centuries as being responsible for the imagery of the cycle. The use of traditional midrashic Bible exegesis is typical for Sephardic Rabbis of anti-rationalist standing, who opposed earlier philosophical trends and followed, rather, scholarly trends common among the Tosafists of northern France. It has also been observed that some images adopt a more specific anti-Christian stance and address polemical issues....

Article

Qingli Wan and Chu-Tsing Li

[Huang Kung-wang; zi Zijiu; hao Yifeng, Dachi, Jingxi Daoren]

(b Changshu, Jiangsu Province, 1269; d Changshu, 1354).

Chinese painter. He was designated one of the Four Masters of the Yuan, together with Ni Zan, Wu Zhen and Wang Meng. Born into a family named Lu, he was orphaned when very young. The impoverished Lu family had him adopted when he was seven or eight by a Mr Huang of Yongjia, Zhejiang Province, who was living in Changshu at the time. Since Huang was about 90 years old and without male offspring, the names Huang Gongwang and Zijiu were chosen, which together mean ‘Mr Huang has desired a son for a long time’.

Huang Gongwang received a good education, and some documents suggest that he was a child prodigy. In his youth, he served as a legal clerk in the Office of Surveillance in western Zhejiang Province and was put in charge of matters related to the collection of land taxes for helping poor peasants. In 1315, when he was working in Beijing at the Investigation Bureau of the Office of the Imperial Censor, Zhang Lu, he was imprisoned for alleged involvement in mishandling of land taxes in Zhejiang. A plan to collect taxes that Zhang proposed to the court in fact had been undermined by rich landowners and corrupt officials; later, when Zhang was cleared, Huang was released. As a result of this Huang decided to give up official life, changing his name to Yifeng (‘One Peak’)....

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 ...