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Astrology in medieval art  

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....


Carrand, Louis  

G. Gaeta Bertelà

(b Lyon, April 22, 1827; d Florence, Sept 21, 1888).

French collector. His father Jean-Baptiste Carrand (1792–1871) was a collector of medieval and Renaissance decorative objects (Byzantine and Gothic ivories, Renaissance maiolica, enamelwork, arms, bronzes and coins) and a connoisseur of manuscripts and documents, first in Lyon and then in Paris, where Louis worked in partnership with him. Their most prestigious purchases were some early medieval and Gothic ivory pieces and the famous flabellum (9th century, court of Charles the Bald) from the Benedictine abbey of Tournus in Burgundy. In 1867 they exhibited ivories, bronzes, arms, wood-carvings and secular gold items in the Exposition Universelle, Paris. After his father’s death Louis continued to enlarge the collection. In particular he added early medieval and Renaissance textiles. In 1880 he moved to Nice and in 1881 to Pisa, where he remained until 1886, continuing to buy artefacts not only from French and Italian sales but also from England, Germany, Greece and Turkey. In ...


Chantilly Inferno  

Libby Karlinger Escobedo

Illustrated manuscript (Chantilly, Mus. Condé, MS. 597/1424) of the Inferno by Dante Alighieri, probably made in Pisa c. 1345. Dante’s Inferno is the first part of his Divine Comedy, written sometime between 1308 and 1321, in which Dante himself, guided by the Roman poet Virgil, travels through the nine circles of Hell, encountering a variety of notable historical figures guilty of the various sins associated with each successive level. The many surviving manuscripts attest to the popularity of the text; more than 600 copies survive from the 14th century alone, including the Chantilly manuscript.

The Chantilly manuscript contains the Inferno as well as a Latin commentary on the text by Guido da Pisa. Most of the manuscript’s 55 miniatures accompany the commentary, though their iconography is drawn from the Inferno itself. The Chantilly manuscript is among the earliest illustrated copies of the Inferno and the only known illustrated copy of Guido da Pisa’s commentary. The manuscript includes the arms of the ...


Cröy family  

Patrick Valvekens

South Netherlandish family of patrons and collectors. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries members of this aristocratic family played an important role in politics and were closely involved with the Burgundian court. Their collection of manuscripts was one of the most important of the time. It is difficult, however, to establish which manuscripts were acquired by whom. Jean, Count of Chimay (1395–1473), began the collection and ordered many manuscripts on behalf of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Jean’s son, Philippe, Count of Chimay (d 1482), commissioned eminent translators, scribes and illuminators, including Jean Wauquelin, Jean Miélot (fl 1448–63), David Aubert (c. 1435–79), Jacquemart Pilavaine (fl 1450–85), and Simon Marmion, to enrich the Cröy library. In addition, some of the manuscripts from the ducal library found their way into the Cröy collection. The library was inherited by Philippe’s son, Charles, Prince of Chimay (...


Foscari, Francesco, Doge of Venice  

Deborah Howard

(b Venice, 1373; reg 15 April 1423–23 Oct 1457; d Nov 1, 1457).

Venetian ruler and patron. He was the longest-serving doge in the history of Venice. His reign was a period of constant warfare, during which Venice consolidated her hold on her mainland possessions and acquired further territory. His only surviving son, Jacopo Foscari (c. 1416–57), a celebrated humanist, was three times disgraced for alleged corruption. After his son’s final banishment and death, Francesco was persuaded by the Council of Ten to abdicate. He died a week later and was given a full ducal burial in the church of S Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice. His tomb monument (for illustration see Bregno, (1)) in the same church, probably executed either by Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino or by members of the Bregno family, was erected at the instigation of the doge’s grandson Niccolò Foscari. Its mixture of Gothic and Renaissance elements echoes the hybrid character of public art and architecture during his reign....


Grenier, Pasquier  

Scot McKendrick

(fl Tournai, 1447–93).

Burgundian tapestry merchant. He is one of the most important figures in the history of late medieval tapestry. Once considered a master weaver, he was subsequently revealed as the most influential 15th-century tapestry merchant. He dealt in many of the finest tapestries surviving from the second half of the 15th century. He secured his first payment for textiles from Philip II (the Good), Duke of Burgundy, in 1454–5 and subsequently supplied him with many magnificent and expensive hangings. In 1459 he sold tapestries of Alexander the Great, in 1461 the Passion and Peasants and Woodcutters, in 1462 Esther and Ahasuerus and the Swan Knight, and in 1466 Orange Pickers and Woodcutters. Those of Alexander and the Passion were particularly splendid sets, being of huge dimensions and containing much gold and silver thread. In 1459 two members of Grenier’s family were in Milan showing designs for tapestries of Alexander to Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and in ...


Imhoff family  

Jeffrey Chipps Smith

German family of merchants, patrons, and collectors. First documented in Nuremberg in the late 14th century, the Imhoffs quickly married into the city’s older families and initiated lucrative trading enterprises. From their mercantile offices in southern Germany and Venice, the various family firms rapidly branched out to the rest of Europe. Konrad (d 1486) developed silver mines in Saxony. The Imhoffs were one of the great patrician families of Nuremberg during the 15th and 16th centuries. Among their artistic donations to Nuremberg churches, those to St Lorenz (see Nuremberg, §IV, 2) were the most notable. For example Konrad Imhoff (d 1449) donated the Coronation of the Virgin (1418–22), the artist of which was christened the Master of the Imhoff Altar (also known as the Master of the Deichsler Altar). Hans Imhoff IV (d 1499) presented the St Roch altar (c...


Molinier, Emile  

Bertrand Jestaz

(b Nantes, April 26, 1857; d Paris, May 5, 1906).

French art historian, museum curator and dealer. Under the influence of his brother Auguste Molinier (1851–1904), a great medievalist scholar, he trained at the Ecole des Chartes (1875–8) in Paris and then worked for a year in the Cabinet des Estampes at the Bibliothèque Nationale, before joining the Département des Objets d’art at the Louvre in 1879. He became a curator noted for his erudition, energy and perspicacity. On leaving the Ecole des Chartes, he at first edited medieval texts but soon turned to the history of the decorative arts and, without abandoning his study of the Middle Ages, developed a passion for the Italian Renaissance, publishing such works as Les Plaquettes (Paris, 1886), a pioneer study of the art form, which has remained indispensable. At the same time he compiled many catalogues of works of art, in the Louvre and other collections, including the ...


Orsini family  

Jacqueline Colliss Harvey

Italian family of patrons. One of the greatest Roman dynasties, the Orsini are documented from the 11th century and rose to prominence under the pontificate of Pope Celestine III (reg 1191–8). The founder proper of the Orsini dynasty was Matteo Rosso Orsini (d after 1254). In 1241 they defended Rome from the assault of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, and as a consequence began their traditional enmity with the Colonna family. By the 13th century they had had two popes: Celestine III and Nicholas III. The latter’s emblem, also that of the family, was a standing bear (It. orso). At the close of the 13th century the Orsini began to divide into numerous branches, the principal ones being those of Monterotondo, the Conti di Nola and Pitigliano and the Duce di Bracciano and Gravina. So extensive was the family that it is not possible to reconstruct a comprehensive genealogy. The French family of Jouvenel des Ursins claimed kinship with them, and they were connected by marriage to the Medici and Farnese families....


Portinari, Tommaso  

Paula Nuttall

(b Florence, 1428; d Florence, Feb 15, 1501).

Italian banker and patron of the arts. The best-known Florentine patron of Netherlandish painting, Portinari spent over 40 years in Bruges, in the course of which he achieved pre-eminence in its Italian mercantile colony. He went to the Bruges branch of the Medici bank as a junior employee c. 1440, a position he held for many years, during which he built up lucrative contacts and gained a foothold at the Burgundian court. Egotistical and ambitious, he came to resent his subordinate position and eventually, in 1465, persuaded the Medici to appoint him manager. This proved to be disastrous. So gravely did he mismanage its finances that by 1478 the Bruges branch was bankrupt.

Portinari abused his position as head of the most prestigious bank in Bruges to further his career at the Burgundian court, the magnificence and refinement of which fascinated him, and which he emulated in his own patronage. His headquarters was the Bladelinhof, one of the most splendid houses in Bruges; he erected a chapel in the St Jakobskerk and was a prominent member of the prestigious Confraternity of the Dry Tree, and he dressed himself and his wife, Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, in the costliest Burgundian fashion. He was adviser to two dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold, advancing to the latter loans that were largely responsible for crippling the bank. Portinari returned to Florence in ...


Pucci family  

Roger J. Crum

Italian family of patrons. The family was putatively descended from Puccio di Benintendi, a mason in Florence in the second half of the 13th century, and for several generations members belonged to the guild of woodworkers. Although the family lived near S Michele Visdomini, Puccio’s son Benintendi di Puccio (d 1325) commissioned a family tomb in Santa Croce, Florence, c. 1320. The latter’s grandson, Antonio Pucci I, may have been an architect and was one of three contractors who built the vaults and roof (1380–82) of the Loggia dei Signori. The family’s connection with SS Annunziata, Florence, began in 1384 when he built a wooden model (destr.). He held high office in the guild of woodworkers between 1390 and 1417 and was twice selected a prior of Florence.

From the 15th century the family’s fortunes were linked with those of the Medici. They were ardent supporters of Cosimo de’ Medici, who arranged for two of Antonio’s sons, ...


Walois, Jean  

Scot McKendrick

( fl 1411–45).

Netherlandish tapestry merchant. At the time when Arras was the most important centre of production of tapestry of the highest quality, he was probably the most prominent tapestry merchant there for nearly three decades. Between 1413 and 1445 he supplied John the Fearless and Philip the Good, successive dukes of Burgundy, with many tapestries for their own use and as dynastic and diplomatic gifts. Particularly prominent among his sales were individual pieces and sets depicting hunting scenes, such as those destined for Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, in 1415, Jean, Duc de Touraine and his wife, Jacqueline of Bavaria, in 1416, Philip the Good in 1428 and Arnold, Duke of Guelders, in 1435. Comparison with other contemporary sales has suggested such subjects as a specialization or even a monopoly in Walois’s trade. Inevitably (although without further evidence) his name has been associated with the four Devonshire Hunting Tapestries (London, V&A) and two further hunting tapestries (Glasgow, Burrell Col. and Minneapolis, MN, Inst. A.). His success was undoubtedly founded on the legacy of his parents, both of whom were members of highly influential and wealthy Arras families. Huart, his father (...