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Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Florence, before March 12, 1446; d Lucca, 1496).

Italian painter and illuminator. He was a Camaldolite monk; his appointment, from 1470, as Abbot of Agnano, Arezzo, and Val di Castro, Fabriano, was disputed, since he never resided at either abbey. His work is known from a signed triptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (1460–67) in SS Martino e Bartolomeo at Tifi, Arezzo (in situ). It shows the influence of the most fashionable Florentine artists of the time, such as Neri di Bicci, and such artists from the Marches as Giovanni Boccati and Gerolamo di Giovanni da Camerino. The most noteworthy aspect of the altarpiece, however, is its chromatic quality. This undoubtedly derives from the work of Piero della Francesca and has made it possible to identify Amedei as the collaborator to whom Piero entrusted the small predella scenes and pilaster figures of the polyptych of the Misericordia (Sansepolcro, Pin.), a work that can be dated by the final payments made in ...

Article

William Hood

[Fra Giovanni da Fiesole; Guido di Piero da Mugello]

(b nr Vicchio, c. 1395–1400; d Rome, Feb 18, 1455).

Italian painter, illuminator and Dominican friar. He rose from obscure beginnings as a journeyman illuminator to the renown of an artist whose last major commissions were monumental fresco cycles in St Peter’s and the Vatican Palace, Rome. He reached maturity in the early 1430s, a watershed in the history of Florentine art. None of the masters who had broken new ground with naturalistic painting in the 1420s was still in Florence by the end of that decade. The way was open for a new generation of painters, and Fra Angelico was the dominant figure among several who became prominent at that time, including Paolo Uccello, Fra Filippo Lippi and Andrea del Castagno. By the early 1430s Fra Angelico was operating the largest and most prestigious workshop in Florence. His paintings offered alternatives to the traditional polyptych altarpiece type and projected the new naturalism of panel painting on to a monumental scale. In fresco projects of the 1440s and 1450s, both for S Marco in Florence and for S Peter’s and the Vatican Palace in Rome, Fra Angelico softened the typically astringent and declamatory style of Tuscan mural decoration with the colouristic and luminescent nuances that characterize his panel paintings. His legacy passed directly to the second half of the 15th century through the work of his close follower Benozzo Gozzoli and indirectly through the production of Domenico Veneziano and Piero della Francesca. Fra Angelico was undoubtedly the leading master in Rome at mid-century, and had the survival rate of 15th-century Roman painting been greater, his significance for such later artists as Melozzo da Forlì and Antoniazzo Romano might be clearer than it is....

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

Lucinda Hawkins

[Giorgio; Klovic, Juraj]

(b Grisone [Grizane], Croatia, 1498; d Rome, Jan 3, 1578).

Italian painter and illuminator of Croatian birth. The most important illuminator of the 16th century, he was a ‘Michelangelo of small works’, according to Vasari. Many of his documented works are dispersed or untraced, and some attributions are controversial, but his secure oeuvre gives a clear idea of his stylistic influences and development. Although much of his inspiration came from Raphael and Michelangelo, he developed his own visual language, brilliantly translating their monumental forms for work on the smallest scale.

Educated in his native Croatia, Clovio came to Italy at the age of 18 to study art. He began his training in Venice and spent several years there in the service of Cardinal Domenico Grimani and his nephew Marino Grimani. During this period he visited Rome, where he met Giulio Romano and studied with him. This stay in Rome, as well as his experience of the art collections of the Grimani, which included many works by northern artists, notably Dürer, strongly influenced his artistic development. Around ...

Article

Patrick M. de Winter

(b Reggio Emilia, c. 1440; d before Jan 15, 1495).

Italian scribe, illuminator and Franciscan friar. Between 1477 and 1487 he wrote three, and partially decorated six, large Antiphonaries for the cathedral of Ferrara (Ferrara, Mus. Duomo). In a series of eleven Antiphonaries and six Graduals commissioned in 1490 for the convent of S Francesco, Brescia (Brescia, Pin. Civ. Tosio–Martinengo, MSS 1–17), he illuminated initials as well as border decoration. In both enterprises Fra Evangelista probably had a controlling hand and used Jacopo Filippo d’Argenta as a close collaborator. Attributions of cuttings in Berlin (Kupferstichkab.) and a miniature with St Jerome (Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.) are inconclusive.

Fra Evangelista emulated the styles of Guglielmo Giraldi, Martino da Modena and Jacopo Filippo d’Argenta, all three active on the two series of choir-books. Like most contemporary painters in Ferrara, he was greatly influenced by the works of Cosimo Tura. His own style is characterized by a geometrically structured, balanced page layout that includes strong acanthus decoration bound within frames, and wooded or rocky scenes with large figures draped in bulky garments and with smallish heads. When working directly with Jacopo Filippo d’Argenta (best exemplified in Ferrara, Mus. Duomo, MS. Corale VI), he tended to be more inventive, his acanthus leaves stylishly framing medallions....

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

Charles M. Rosenberg

(fl 1463; d before 1503).

Italian illuminator and painter. In 1463 he wrote to the Duke of Milan’s agent in Cremona requesting consideration for a commission to paint an altarpiece for a memorial altar erected in S Agostino, Cremona; this would suggest that he was a painter as well as an illuminator. In 1503, in a payment made to his nephew Marchino for the illumination of a Gradual, Nebridio is referred to as deceased. Two signed illuminations survive: a cutting in Bologna with a representation of St Augustine (Bologna, Mus. Civ., Palagi, no. 130) and another showing the Resurrection (Cambridge, MA, Fogg, MS. 1916.28). On the Bolognese cutting, Nebridio identifies himself on a scroll as a ‘son of the saint’, that is, an Augustinian. His style displays a density of decoration characterized by courtliness and elegance and shows the survival of Late Gothic influences in Cremonese art. Levi d’Ancona detected a reflection of the style of Bonifacio Bembo and of the later work of Belbello da Pavia in Nebridio’s illuminations and suggested a Venetian connection between Nebridio and Belbello, an idea that was rejected by Bandera. A number of works have been attributed to Nebridio, including a Breviary dated ...

Article

Evelyn M. Cohen

The most profusely decorated Hebrew codex produced in Renaissance Italy. It is a compilation of approximately 70 works, including biblical, liturgical, historical, legal, philosophical, astrological, Cabbalistic and moralistic texts, many of them with a commentary written in the margins. The religious works include the books of Psalms, Proverbs and Job, a Machzor and a Haggadah. The secular books include Josippon’s history of the Jews (based on Josephus) and the Meshal ha-Kadmoni. The codex would thus have functioned as a miniature library. The patron of the manuscript is unknown, as there is no colophon or inscription of ownership, but the name Moses ben Jekutiel ha-Cohen, mentioned in the blessing of the Torah (fol. 106), possibly refers to the original owner. The calendar of the lunar cycle (fol. 471) begins with 1470, and stylistically the manuscript appears to belong to the third quarter of the 15th century.

This small (210×156 mm) codex, written on fine vellum in an Italo-Ashkenazi script, is composed of 437 folios, 408 of which are illuminated. In addition to two full-page miniatures for the Book of Job and five full-page diagrams, the manuscript contains approximately 200 smaller text illustrations, which are placed in the columns of text, the outer margins of the pages, or the borders of the initial word panels. These pictures capture the daily life of a Renaissance Jew in Italy by portraying the religious observances that were performed daily, on the Sabbath and on the various holy days, as well as the rituals of circumcision, marriage and mourning. Biblical episodes are also depicted, as are scenes from numerous animal fables....

Article

Evelyn M. Cohen

[Feibush Ashkenazi]

(fl 15th century).

Jewish scribe and illuminator, active in Germany and northern Italy. Although more of his work has been identified than any other medieval Jewish artist–copyist’s, all that is known about him is culled from colophons in manuscripts that he either wrote or decorated. He lived in Cologne and Bonn; most of the manuscripts attributed to him are liturgical texts, especially Haggadot (see Haggadah). He usually named himself as the scribe of a manuscript, as in the following works: First Nuremberg Haggadah (Jerusalem, Schocken Lib., MS. 24086); First New York Haggadah (New York, Jew. Theol. Semin. America Lib., MS. Mic. 4481); a prayerbook dated 1449 (Parma, Bib. Palatina, MS. 3144); a prayerbook dated 1452/3 (Turin, Bib. N. U., MS. A. III. 14); a Haggadah (Cologny, Fond. Bodmer, MS. Cod. Bodmer 81); a prayerbook dated 1469 (London, BL, MS. Add. 26957); the Washington Haggadah, dated 1478 (Washington, DC, Lib. Congr., Hebr. MS. I); and David Kimhi’s commentary on the Psalms dated ...

Article

Tilman Falk

[‘Wirstlin’]

(b Schwabmünchen, nr Augsburg, 1453–4; d Augsburg, Jan 1, 1522).

German calligrapher. From 1472 he was a Benedictine monk at SS Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg. He worked as a scribe on liturgical manuscripts from at least 1480. According to his own notes (Conscriptiones, 1494; Augsburg, Staats- & Stadtbib.) and the history of the monastery, he completed in all over 50 manuscripts, including commissions outside his Augsburg monastery, some being illuminated by important miniaturists. For Emperor Maximilian, a patron of his monastery, he produced the Vita Sancti Simperti (1492; Munich, Bayer. Staatsbib.), with some illustrations by Hans Holbein I. On journeys—to St Gall, among other places, where he could study medieval manuscripts—he taught calligraphy. His most famous calligraphic work is the Proba centum scripturarum (after 1509; Augsburg, Bischöf. Ordinariat), a pattern book of 100 medieval (lettera antica) and contemporary (lettera moderna) scripts, some invented by Leonhard himself. His portrait was drawn several times by ...