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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

Giuseppe Antonio Guazzelli

(b Sora, nr. Frosinone, Oct 30, 1538; d Rome, Jun 30, 1607).

Italian cardinal and church historian. A disciple of St. Filippo Neri and among the early and more influential members of the Congregation of the Oratory (Oratorians) established in Rome by Neri, as church historian, Baronio was involved in relevant projects promoted by the Roman Curia after the closure of the Council of Trent. As early as 1580 he collaborated on revising the Martyrologium Romanum, one of the post-Tridentine liturgical books, and then added to the same Martyrologium a general introduction and an extensive analytical commentary (respectively the Tractatio de Martyrologio Romano and the Notationes, both first published in 1586). Between 1588 and 1607 he published the Annales Ecclesiastici, in twelve volumes, where he dealt with church history from the birth of Christ down to 1198: such monumental erudite work was the main Catholic response to the Protestant Magdeburg Centuries (published 1559–1574). Different aspects of Baronio’s scholarly work are deeply linked. In his ...

Article

(b ?Andernach; fl 1590s; d before 1598).

German carpenter and copyist. He made a craftsman’s copybook (Cologne, Hist. Archv, Hs. Wfo. 276*) that reproduced important verbal and graphic evidence on particular design techniques of Late Gothic master masons in Germany. He included a few biographical details, such as variant spellings of his name and the fact that he was known in his home town of Andernach as Jacob Keul. On one page of architectural drawings he wrote, ‘Drawn in Vienna in the year 1593’, and on another, ‘Drawn in Breslau in Silesia in 1593’. By 1596 he had returned to Andernach and inscribed one of his drawings accordingly. The Andernach archives have revealed that he was the son of Jacob Keul, who may also have been a carpenter. In 1596 the younger Jacob Keul was paid from the accounts of the Watch and Artillery Master for working with several other carpenters at the ‘stone lodge on the Rhine’ (Koblenz, Landeshauptarchv, MS. 612. III. H. 4, fasc. 5, p. 215). In ...

Article

Lon R. Shelby

(b c. 1460; d after 1516).

German architect, sculptor, and military engineer.

On 23 June 1489 the Milan City Council rejected a recommendation from Simon Brunus, German, that ‘Master Laurentius, engineer’ should come to Milan for the task of completing the tiburium (?ciborium, baldacchino) for the cathedral. It has generally been thought that this letter referred to Lorenz Lechler, for on 25 August 1489 the City Council of Esslingen (near Stuttgart) also recommended Lechler to the Milanese for the completion of their cathedral. Lechler had constructed the sacrament house and choir-screen for St Dionysius, Esslingen, and he was commended to the Milanese for his ‘ingenuity, industry, and art’.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Lechler may have been involved with the construction of the sacrament house and choir-screen at Speyer Cathedral in the late 1490s. In 1509 he was called back to Speyer to supervise the completion of the Mount of Olives located just outside and south of the cathedral nave, which had been begun by ...

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 ...

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

Fernando Marías

(b Burgos, c.1490; d Toledo, before June 5, 1528).

Spanish writer. He studied at Alcalá de Henares (1512–15) and in 1517 became priest and chaplain there to Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros and possibly to Queen Joanna. Sagredo travelled in Italy between 1518 and 1521, before joining Toledo Cathedral in 1522. From 1524 he received a semi-prebend from the cathedral, and in 1527 he became the cathedral librarian, working as a designer of temporary structures and feast day organizer. Under the protection of Archbishop Alonso de Fonseca y Acevedo, to whom he dedicated his treatise and for whom he acted as Inspector of Works at the archiepiscopal palace of Alcalá de Henares, Sagredo obtained royal permission in 1524 to publish his Medidas del Romano (Toledo, 1526). Five further editions in Castilian followed by 1564, and the text was translated into French and printed seven times between c. 1537 and 1608. Already in the first French edition a series of paragraphs and illustrations was added on intercolumnar dimensions, arcades, and pedestals (with woodcuts showing the ‘entire’ orders): these were then used in the subsequent Spanish editions....

Article

Lon R. Shelby

[Hans]

(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, ...