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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 (...


Paul Davies and David Hemsoll

(b Genoa, Feb 14, 1404; d Rome, April 1472).

Italian architect, sculptor, painter, theorist and writer. The arts of painting, sculpture and architecture were, for Alberti, only three of an exceptionally broad range of interests, for he made his mark in fields as diverse as family ethics, philology and cryptography. It is for his contribution to the visual arts, however, that he is chiefly remembered. Alberti single-handedly established a theoretical foundation for the whole of Renaissance art with three revolutionary treatises, on painting, sculpture and architecture, which were the first works of their kind since Classical antiquity. Moreover, as a practitioner of the arts, he was no less innovative. In sculpture he seems to have been instrumental in popularizing, if not inventing, the portrait medal, but it was in architecture that he found his métier. Building on the achievements of his immediate predecessors, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, he reinterpreted anew the architecture of antiquity and introduced compositional formulae that have remained central to classical design ever since....



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....


[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 ...


Carlo Roberto Chiarlo

[Ciriaco d’Ancona; Ciriaco di Filippo de’ Pizzicolli]

(b Ancona, 1391; d Cremona, ?1455).

Italian traveller and antiquarian. A self-educated merchant and occasional papal diplomatic agent, he played a central role in the rediscovery of the ancient world during the 15th century, travelling extensively in Italy, Greece and the Near East between 1412 and 1449. He learnt Latin and Greek and became the first great amateur classicist, as well as the undisputed father of modern archaeology and epigraphy. His explorations in Greece and the Levant resulted in the recovery of a number of manuscripts by ancient authors, though his most important contributions to the study of ancient art were his detailed notes on the antiquities he observed during his travels. Among the monuments of greatest interest to him were the antiquities of Athens, where he drew the Parthenon, the Philopappos Monument and the Temple of Olympian Zeus when it had 21 columns. He also recorded the Temple of Artemis at Didyma in Turkey before it was toppled by an earthquake, the ruins of Kyzikos on the Sea of Marmara, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the monuments of ancient Egypt. He devoted himself as well to searching for and recording the antiquities of Italy, assembling a substantial corpus of drawings of ancient monuments and inscriptions. His relatively analytical and precise approach to antiquity sets him apart from late medieval tradition, especially in regard to the exactness with which he copied inscriptions. While he made use of historical texts, Cyriac preferred to study monuments and inscriptions directly, thus laying the foundations of the antiquarian approach to ...


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....


Jeremy Musson

(b Syracuse, 1426; d Palermo, c. 1487).

Italian historian, philosopher and theologian . A member of the Dominican Order, he taught at the University of Catania and at Palermo. He twice visited Hungary before 1474, and was granted a pension for life by King Matthias Corvinus. His writings included several historical works. His chronicle of popes and emperors (from 1316–1469) was first published anonymously in Rome in 1474, but was later reissued erroneously under the name of Giovanni Filippo de Lignamine. Another important work was the Virorum illustrium cronica (published early 1475), which culminates in a eulogy of Ferdinand the Catholic (later Ferdinand II, King of Aragon), and includes such figures as Guarino da Verona and Leonardo Bruni. He also produced two major theological works, De immortalite animarum libri tres and De divina providentia et hominum praedestionene, which defend the Thomist doctrine of predestination. In 1474 he was appointed as preacher to the Florentine convent of S Maria Novella and later as preacher to the Aragonese court in Naples. While he was on a mission to Seville, he came to be highly regarded by King Ferdinand II and his court. From ...


A. C. de la Mare

(b ?Florence, c. 1421; bur Florence, July 1498).

Italian bookseller, stationer (cartolaio) and writer. He was one of six children of Filippo (d 1426), a wool chandler, the eldest of whom, Jacopo (d 1468), became a successful doctor after partnering Bernardo Cennini (b 1415) as a goldsmith until c. 1446. Vespasiano himself recorded that he had no formal education in Latin; by 1434 he was already working for the stationer and binder Michele Guarducci, whose double shop was on the corner of the Via del Proconsolo, the centre of the Florentine book trade, opposite the Palazzo del Podestà (now the Bargello). Humanists such as Niccolò Niccoli, the avid book collector, frequented the shop and encouraged Vespasiano in his studies. By the 1440s he was acting as a bookseller in his own right, although he did not become a partner in the shop until shortly before Guarducci’s death in 1451. He exploited the commercial possibilities of manuscripts, especially of the classics and the Church Fathers, written and decorated in the new ‘humanistic’ style developed in Florence by Niccoli, Poggio Bracciolini and their circle. This was the result of having seen how much demand there had been for such books among the dignitaries and scholars who had assembled in Florence from all over Europe for the Council of Reunion between ...


Masatomo Kawai


(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 (...


M. C. Davies

[Leonardo Aretino]

(b Arezzo, 1370; d Florence, March 9, 1444).

Italian scholar and writer. He was the leading humanist scholar of early 15th-century Florence, widely read in both Latin and Greek and a prolific author and translator. One of the first to attempt an artistically classicizing Latin prose, he brought Aristotle and later Plato, besides others, to the forefront of humanist moral thought in a sustained polemical effort to supersede and augment medieval translations. He was employed as papal secretary (1405–15) to Innocent VII and Gregory XII and as Chancellor of Florence (1427–44). In his writings, notably the treatise Laudatio florentinae urbis (c. 1400) and the nine-volume Historia florentini populi (begun c. 1415, pubd 1439), he argued a relationship between the political liberty and cultural flowering of republican Rome and contemporary Florence and promulgated an active engagement of the intellectual with society, after the example of Cicero. The depth and sincerity of this ideology of ‘civic humanism’ has been much debated by modern scholars. Asked in ...


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 ...


Philip J. Jacks

(b c. 1450; d Rome, 1527).

Italian philologist and antiquarian. He was probably born near Ravenna. ‘Calvus’ was a classical cognomen; the family name ‘de Fabii’ can be traced to Forlì. By 1511 Calvo had entered the employ of Federico II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua, as a private tutor of geometry and Greek; he was already preparing an omnibus translation of Hippocrates into Latin (pubd 1525). At the request of Pope Julius II, Calvo settled in Rome in 1512. His reputation as a philologist brought him into contact with Raphael, who asked him to stay as a guest in his palazzo and to translate Vitruvius. Raphael might have used Calvo’s work in progress when he wrote to Baldassare Castiglione in 1514 that he had ‘probed Vitruvius, but still yearned for more’. Presumably Calvo completed the translation by November 1516, when he turned his attention to an edition and commentary of Galen’s Epidemiorum, which occupied him until ...


Elisabeth Scheicher

(b Wipfeld, Feb 1, 1459; d Vienna, Feb 4, 1508).

German scholar and writer. He published Ars versificandi et carminum in Leipzig in 1486 and in 1486–7 lectured on and edited the tragedies of Seneca: in 1487 he was crowned poet laureate by Emperor Frederick III. He helped produce the works of Roman dramatists and himself wrote Latin plays; he brought German humanist culture to the University of Vienna when summoned there by Maximilian in 1497. In 1492, in his inaugural speech as professor of poetics and rhetoric at Ingolstadt, Celtis talked of the link between poetry and historiography, and his main concern remained with works relating to history and genealogy, an interest shared by the Emperor. Only a fragment, however, of his projected Germania illustrata was completed.

Celtis was of great importance for the fine arts in Maximilian’s entourage. He collaborated with Albrecht Dürer, who executed the dedicatory page of his Amorum (Nuremberg, 1502), and with Hans Burgkmair I; also, the programme of paintings on the chest known as the ‘...



(b Colle di Val d’Elsa, nr Florence, c. 1370; d Florence, c. 1440).

Italian writer and painter. His father Andrea Cennini was also probably a painter. Cennino began his career in Florence as a pupil of Agnolo Gaddi, with whom he claimed to have spent 12 years. Agnolo was both a son and pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, who in turn had been taught by Giotto. Cennino, therefore, represented the third generation trained in the Giottesque tradition, a fact he proudly emphasized. He is cited in only two documents of 13 and 19 August 1398, in which he is recorded as a painter living in Padua, employed by Francesco II da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and married to Ricca di Cittadella. No signed or documented works by him have survived, but Boskovits has ascribed paintings to him on the basis of his assumed authorship of a fresco cycle of the Life of St Stephen (Poggibonsi, S Lucchese). The attributions include a panel of the ...


Jeremy Griffiths

(b Wells, c. 1417; d Oxford, Nov 2, 1490).

English ecclesiastic and writer. He was highly influential in the growth of interest in humanist studies at Oxford. Educated at Winchester College and then New College, Oxford, from 1450 he held various ecclesiastical and university posts. As Chancellor of Wells Cathedral (1452) he dedicated his Liber apologeticus to Thomas Bekynton (?1390–1465), Bishop of Bath and Wells. The presentation copy of this work (Cambridge, Trinity Coll., MS. R.14.5), a mystery play concerning the status of mankind, was seen by John Leland in the library at Wells and is a companion volume to a copy in Oxford (Oxford, New Coll., MS.288), similarly copied in a humanist hand. Bekynton was also the dedicatee of Chaundler’s Allocutiones and Collocutiones, written in praise of William of Wykeham, founder of Winchester and New College. Chaundler’s Libellus de laudibus duarum civitatum, on Bath and Wells, shows the influence of Latin authors, while its dedicatory epistle to Bekynton includes quotations from Greek authors. Although Chaundler knew no Greek, he liked to quote Greek sources, generally derived from quotations in Lactantius, Augustine and elsewhere. He apparently also had access to such contemporary translations of Greek authors as Leonardo Bruni’s ...


Sandra L. Hindman


(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 ...


Jill Kraye

(b Milan, ?1413–22; d after 1466).

Italian humanist and writer. Son and younger brother of well-known humanists, he received his early education in Milan, transferring to Ferrara, probably after 1431, where he studied medicine and literature. He later joined the courtly circle of Lionello d’Este, after whose death he moved to Naples and then Spain, returning to Ferrara in 1465.

Decembrio’s major work is a dialogue, De politia litteraria (1462), which purportedly records conversations between Lionello, his (and Decembrio’s) teacher Guarino da Verona and various members of the Ferrarese court on scholarly, literary and artistic topics, such as the proper content and decoration of libraries. Part LXVIII is an extensive discussion of art, cast in the form of a monologue by Lionello, whose ideas reflect the influence of Leon Battista Alberti’s De pictura. Lionello focuses on the importance of the artist achieving a true representation of nature through the accurate depiction of nude figures. He discusses ancient statues and engraved gems as well as contemporary tapestries and portraits of himself by ...


Jeremy Musson

(b Florence, March 4, 1418; d Florence, Aug 28, 1492).

Italian historian. He was the son of a goldsmith, Domenico di Deo, and in 1440 was enrolled in the Florentine Arte della Seta (silk workers’ guild) to which his father and brothers belonged. In 1442 he enrolled in the Arte della Lana (wool workers’ guild). A political agent of the Medici, he travelled on commercial and diplomatic missions around Europe, Africa and the Middle East between 1459 and 1467. In 1472 he wrote La cronica, a chronicle of Florentine history from 1400 containing a laudatory description of the city of Florence as it was in the time of Lorenzo de’ Medici and including detailed lists of the important families, palaces and piazzas of the city that he called ‘un’ altra Roma novella’. After 1480 he left Florence and entered the service of a number of North Italian noble families, notably the Sforza and the d’Este. He cultivated a wide network of correspondents with whom he exchanged political information. Dei is reputedly among the onlookers portrayed by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the fresco (...


Francesco Quinterio

(b Prato, nr Florence, 1360; d Prato, c. 1442).

Italian poet and architect. He received his education in the liberal arts at the University of Padua, specializing in optics with Biagio Pelacani. He frequented the cultivated circles of Florentine society as well as lively clubs (brigate) such as the Burchiello, where he participated in collective poetry writing. For the Geta e Birria (1413–25) his co-authors included Filippo Brunelleschi. In September 1414 Giovanni was appointed Capitano di Orsanmichele. In May 1417 he was invited by the Reformatori dello Studio to hold the annual Dante lectures. In 1420 he is recorded in the second group of superintendents for the construction of the dome of Florence Cathedral (see fig.). In this period the relationship between Giovanni and Brunelleschi underwent a change, which was reflected in a defamatory sonnet, O forte fonda e nizza di ignoranza, against Brunelleschi who had patented a costly but impractical riverboat for transporting marble on the River Arno. In ...


Francesco Paolo Fiore and Pietro C. Marani

(Pollaiolo) [Francesco di Giorgio]

(b Siena, bapt Sept 23, 1439; d Siena, bur Nov 29, 1501).

Italian architect, engineer, painter, illuminator, sculptor, medallist, theorist and writer. He was the most outstanding artistic personality from Siena in the second half of the 15th century. His activities as a diplomat led to his employment at the courts of Naples, Milan and Urbino, as well as in Siena, and while most of his paintings and miniatures date from before 1475, by the 1480s and 1490s he was among the leading architects in Italy. He was particularly renowned for his work as a military architect, notably for his involvement in the development of the Bastion, which formed the basis of post-medieval fortifications (see Military architecture & fortification, §III, 2(ii) and 4(ii)). His subsequent palace and church architecture was influential in spreading the Urbino style, which he renewed with reference to the architecture of Leon Battista Alberti but giving emphasis to the purism of smooth surfaces. His theoretical works, which include the first important Western writings on military engineering, were not published until modern times but were keenly studied in manuscript, by Leonardo da Vinci among others; they foreshadowed a number of developments that came to fruition in the 16th century (...