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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

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

Mark D. Fullerton

(fl Rome, 1st century bc).

Greek sculptor and writer from South Italy. He is generally regarded as the head of a school producing eclectic, neo-classical statuary related to Neo-Attic decorative reliefs. Virtually everything known about Pasiteles is derived from a few literary references. No signatures of his are extant, although a marble statue of a youth (c. 50 bc; Rome, Villa Albani) is signed by Stephanos as his pupil. Pasiteles received Roman citizenship around 89–88 bc, when enfranchisement was extended as a result of the Social War (Pliny XXXIII.lv.156; XXXVI.iv.40). He is mentioned as an expert in the chasing of metal (caelatura), especially elaborately decorated silver vessels (Pliny XXXV.xlv.156; Cicero: On Divination I.xxxvi.79). Despite being both a sculptor and metalworker, Pasiteles is never mentioned by Pliny in his section on sculptors in bronze. Rather, he is specifically identified as a modeller and ivory carver (XXXV.xlv.156; XXXVI.iv.40). He must have worked in marble as well, since his name occurs twice in book XXXVI, where marble sculpture is treated, and his student ...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

( fl Athens, c. 280 bc). Greek sculptor and writer. Though none of his work has survived, three statue bases signed by a Xenokrates and dating from the early 3rd century bc are extant. According to Pliny (Natural History XXXIV.lvxxxiii) he was a pupil either of Euthykrates, the son of Lysippos, or of Teisikrates, the pupil of Euthykrates (thus closely associated with the Sikyonian school of sculpture headed by Lysippos; see Greece, ancient §IV 2., (iv) ), and he ‘surpassed them both in the number of his statues, and wrote volumes about his art’. In the only other mention of Xenokrates in the text of the Natural History (he is also cited in the index to book XXXIV as having written a treatise on the working of sculpture in metal) Pliny named him, along with Antigonos of Karystos, as the source for the observation that the painter Parrhasios was a master draughtsman (XXXV.lxviii). In fact, Pliny’s whole discussion of the history of sculpture and painting is generally regarded as having been heavily influenced by Xenokrates. In this system, both arts gradually evolved towards perfection as each succeeding artist added something new, such as proportion or the rendering of certain details. In both cases the sequence culminated in a great master of the Sikyonian school, Lysippos in sculpture and Apelles in painting. Perhaps because he was a practising sculptor himself, Xenokrates seems to have used formal and technical criteria, rather than a work’s subject-matter or moral effect, to evaluate artistic achievement. Numerous references to the history of painting and sculpture in writers other than Pliny are thought to derive from Xenokrates’ accounts: he was the art critic best known to the Romans of the late Republic, whose taste he greatly influenced....