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....
(b Florence, Nov 3, 1500; d Florence, Feb 13, 1571).
Italian goldsmith, medallist, sculptor and writer. He was one of the foremost Italian Mannerist artists of the 16th century, working in Rome for successive popes, in France for Francis I and in Florence for Cosimo I de’ Medici. Among his most famous works are the elaborate gold figural salt made for Francis I (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.; see fig. below) and the bronze statue of Perseus (Florence, Loggia Lanzi). His Vita is among the most compelling autobiographies written by an artist and is generally considered to be an important work of Italian literature.
Cellini came from a middle-class Florentine family. His grandfather Andrea was a mason and his father Giovanni Cellini (1451–1528), who married Elisabetta Granacci in 1480, was a well-educated and expert carpenter who built the scaffolding put up to allow Leonardo da Vinci to paint the Battle of Anghiari (destr.) and who was a member of the committee responsible for choosing the site for Michelangelo’s statue of ...
Lon R. Shelby
(fl 1487; d after 1518).
German goldsmith. Because Schmuttermayer wrote a booklet on pinnacles (Fialenbüchlein), published in Nuremberg in the late 1480s, most scholars have assumed he was a master mason. But although in his prologue he mentioned ‘other great and famous masters, such as the Junkers of Prague’, by which he meant the Parler family of master masons, he did not state his own profession.
In the late 1480s Schmuttermayer’s name began to appear regularly in the court records of Nuremberg, and the first references to him intimated that he was a goldsmith. In 1487 he was sued by a woman who claimed that he had a silver cane that belonged to her. In the same year Hermann Laisner certified that he owed money to Albrecht Dürer and Hanns Schmuttermayer. This was probably Albrecht Dürer the elder, who was a goldsmith and father of the famous artist. In 1489 a financial agreement was recorded between Hanns Schmuttermayer, ...
Jane Campbell Hutchison
(b Liège, c. 1510; d Frankfurt am Main, 1574–6).
South Netherlandish printmaker, architect and poet. He was the son of the episcopal goldsmith Henri Zutman (1460–1512). He became a follower of his brother-in-law, Lambert Lombard, with whose work his own was formerly confused. Suavius became an independent master in 1539, when he married and bought a house in Liège. In the same year he purchased a glazier’s stylus with a diamond point, which he used in addition to the standard engraver’s burin to obtain a wider range of effects in his prints. He travelled to Italy, probably in the 1550s. His updated series of Views of Various Ruins (Hollstein, nos 90–117), including the Colosseum, evidently done in Rome, is executed entirely in etching, while his extensive series of portraits of the Roman emperors (Hollstein, nos 52–60) is done in a highly original mixture of engraving, drypoint and etching. He also engraved portraits of Cardinal Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle...
Maria Leonor d’Orey
(b Guimarães, c. 1465–70; d Lisbon, c. 1536–7).
Portuguese writer, designer and goldsmith. He was active from 1502 to 1536 in the service of Queen Eleanor, Manuel I and John III as a playwright, goldsmith, musician, stage designer and actor. It is known, on the evidence of the King’s will, that in 1503 Manuel I entrusted to Vicente the gold from Quiloa that Vasco da Gama (c. 1460–1524) had brought as tribute from his second voyage to India and commissioned Vicente to make the Belém Monstrance (1506; Lisbon, Mus. N. A. Ant.) for the monastery of the Jerónimos at Belém. It is the only surviving example of his work as goldsmith and is one of the best examples of gold- and silverwork in the Manueline style.
At the end of the 19th century, however, there was controversy as to whether the playwright could be identified as the creator of the Belém Monstrance. Documents of the period refer to a ‘Gil Vicente’ without further identification, and biographical details of the poet are not easy to establish. Analysis of the work of the dramatist, however, reveals a profound knowledge of the goldsmith’s craft in the use of over 150 technical terms that would probably not have been familiar to a layman....
(b Villalpando, Zamora, c. 1510; d Toledo, before July 2, 1561).
Spanish metalworker, architect and writer. He came from a family of artists, his brothers being the architects and stuccoists Juan (c. 1505–after 1563) and Jerónimo (c. 1505–before 1561) del Corral de Villalpando and the wrought-iron worker Ruy Díez del Corral. Later, the architect Gaspar de Vega (d 1576) became his brother-in-law. Villalpando must have been trained by his family, and he may have travelled to Italy between 1533 and 1537. In 1540 he was living in Valladolid; there he came into contact with Cardinal Juan Pardo de Tavera, who took him to Toledo and commissioned him to execute the ironwork (1541–8) for the chancel of the cathedral. Villalpando also worked for the college of San Ildefonso de Alcalá de Henares, where he executed the ironwork for some of the library windows (1542–6). He settled, however, in Toledo and carried out his most important creations as a metalworker for the cathedral there: the pulpits (...