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....
[Antonio di Neri]
(b 1453; d 1516).
Italian intarsia designer, civil engineer, architect and engraver, was a native of Siena. From 1483 to 1502 he worked in Siena Cathedral, providing carving and intarsia for the choir-stalls in the chapel of San Giovanni (1483–1502; seven panels survive in La Collegiata in San Quirico d’Orcia and one in the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Vienna) and building the benches for the Piccolomini library (...
(b Modena, c. 1490; d London, ?Feb 15, 1569).
Italian stuccoist, sculptor, painter and costume designer, active in France and England. He worked in France as a painter (1515–22), probably under Jean Perréal and Jean Bourdichon, then in Mantua, possibly under Giulio Romano, possibly calling himself ‘da Milano’. By 1532 he was at Fontainebleau and in 1533 was engaged with Francesco Primaticcio on the stuccoes and painting of the Chambre du Roi and was one of the highest paid of his collaborators. He may also have worked on the Galerie François I. He was described in 1534 as sculpteur et faiseur de masques and in 1535 made masquerade costumes for the wedding of the Comte de Saint-Pol. He was later involved in a fraud and by August 1537 was in England, where he settled. By 1540 Bellin was employed at Whitehall Palace, probably on making stucco chimneypieces, including that in the privy chamber. The following year he and his company of six were working on the slate carvings at ...
(fl late 17th century–early 18th).
Swiss-Italian stuccoist and architect. He drew up the plans for the abbey church of Muri (1694–7), Switzerland, which is regarded as the consummation of the centrally planned church and one of the most beautiful Baroque buildings in Switzerland. Bettini’s scheme involved reconstructing the cruciform Romanesque abbey church. The twin towers and the low choir spanned by a Gothic lierne vault were retained, but the nave was converted into an octagonal rotunda with transeptal chapels. The ends of the former aisles, at the west and east, lie outside the octagon and are used to form galleries. The eight arches defining the octagon are of equal height but unequal width. Uniformity of height is obtained in the narrower, diagonal arches by raising the imposts rather than by stilting the arches. A large saucer dome, with stucco ornamentation by Bettini, covers the rotunda, admitting light, via penetrations, from semicircular windows set on a slightly curving entablature inside, supported by folded pilasters. Bettini’s reputation is based on evidence that he produced designs for the building, while the more famous architect ...
Dwight C. Miller
(b Bologna, 1692; d Bologna, 1776).
Italian painter and stuccoist. He was largely self-taught yet gifted with exceptional talent—‘such praiseworthy qualities not the fruit of long toil but of gifts with which the painter was endowed’ (Zanotti)—and thus able to establish a position among the most highly reputed artists in Bologna of his time. He was chosen four times (1734; 1748; 1767; 1773) to be the director of the prestigious Accademia Clementina of Bologna. He began his career as a stuccoist. However, impressed by the art of the quadraturista Marcantonio Chiarini (1652–1730), whose large perspective paintings he saw while working at the Palazzo Almandini, he himself began to specialize in painting perspective effects. He studied Ferdinando Galli Bibiena’s L’architettura civile (Parma, 1711) and, profiting also from his experience as an assistant to a scenery designer, Carl Antonio Buffagnotti (1660–after 1715), soon became expert in this art and began to assist the established ...
(b Monte, nr Balerna; d Prague, 1628).
Italian stuccoist, active in Prague. He settled in Prague in 1590 and was granted citizenship in Malá Strana in January 1591. One of his major commissions was the oval chapel of the Assumption (1590–1600), which was built for the Italian community in Karlova Ulice and was the first centralized Baroque building to be erected in Prague. In 1603 Bossi built the north part of the Augustinian monastery near the church of St Thomas in Malá Strana. In the following year he was involved with renovations to the same monastery. From 1602 he built the hospital for the Italian congregation opposite the site of the present Lobkowicz Palace (1703–69; now the German Embassy). This early Baroque building comprises four wings around an arcaded courtyard (later glassed over). The hospital church (1608–17), dedicated to S Carlo Borromeo and also built by Bossi, was one of the first domed Baroque buildings in Prague. In the construction of these buildings Bossi played an important role in the dissemination of Italian architectural concepts in Prague....
(b Paris, Nov 11, 1642; d Paris, Feb 28, 1732).
French cabinetmaker. His family were originally from Guelderland in the Netherlands and went to Paris, where his father worked as a ‘menuisier en ébène’. Boulle became a master before 1666, when he is recorded as a ‘maître menuisier en ébène’; at this time he lived and worked in the rue de Reims near Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. He was granted the royal privilege of lodging in the Galeries du Louvre on 21 May 1672, having been recommended by Jean-Baptiste Colbert as the most adept among his profession in Paris. In the same year he received the title of Ébéniste, Ciseleur, Doreur et Sculpteur du Roi, the royal privilege allowing him to carry out the work of more than one profession; without such protection this would have been an infringement of the guilds’ rules. In 1685 Boulle employed at least 15 workmen, and by 1720 the workshop had 20 work-benches and equipment for 6 bronzeworkers. Yet despite his success Boulle was dogged by financial difficulties, and his creditors sought permission to have him arrested in the Louvre in ...
(b Urbino, c. 1524–5; d Urbino, Sept 20, 1575).
Italian stuccoist and sculptor. He enjoyed extensive patronage from the court of Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, for whom he modelled fireplaces and entire ceilings representing allegories of princely prerogative and aristocratic supremacy. This practice, unusual in Italy (where stucco was generally a decorative adjunct to fresco), may be partly explained by the fact that Guidobaldo did not retain a permanent court painter.
Between 1538 and 1541 Brandani was apprenticed in Urbino to Giovanni Maria di Casteldurante, a maiolica artist, but his earliest known work (c. 1551) is the luxuriant and overcrowded stucco ceiling, modelled with five relief scenes from the Life of St Peter, in the chapel of the Palazzo Corte Rossa, Fossombrone, near Urbino, for Cardinal Giulio della Rovere (1533–78). In 1552–3 Brandani made contributions to the stucco decoration at the Villa Giulia, Rome, modelling friezes, small roundels and grotesques in the rooms left and right of the entrance....
(b Lichtensteig, now in Switzerland, Feb 28, 1552; d Kassel, Jan 31, 1632),
Swiss clockmaker, instrument maker and mathematician, who served in Kassel from 1579 to 1592 as maker of clocks, mechanical globes and astronomical instruments to William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. On the Landgrave’s death in 1592, Bürgi moved to Prague to take up a similar post in the service of Rudolf II, where he was regarded as the leading clockmaker of his day. Bürgi’s technical innovations included a device which directed a constant driving force to the escapement; he was one of the first horologists to fit his clocks with sweep hands to measure seconds....
(b Bissone, Ticino, Aug 28, 1664; d Vienna, 1737).
Italian stuccoist. He was taught to draw by his father, the painter Giovanni Francesco Bussi, but then concentrated on developing a career as a stuccoist. He began his career in Milan, where he worked on the decoration of numerous palaces, but was then summoned to Vienna by Eugene, Prince of Savoy. From 1695 to 1704 he worked under the architect Domenico Martinelli at the palace of Count Dominik Andreas Kaunitz (now the Liechtenstein Palace) in Bankgasse, Vienna, which had been acquired by Prince Andrew of Liechtenstein in 1694. Here Bussi decorated twenty-two rooms, two cabinets, the great hall, the staircase and the two vestibules. The elegance and lightness that he imparted to the staircase with his vivid leaf and vine scroll decoration were impaired, however, during the modernization of the building by Alois II, Prince of Liechtenstein, and his English architect Peter Hubert Desvignes c. 1840. At around the same time he also worked at the Franciscan church (destr.) in Feldsberg, Bohemia, and the ...
Italian painter, active in England. He is named as ‘Alex of myllen’ and thereafter described as a ‘myllyner’, so it seems likely that he came from Milan; the persistent notion that he was a woman has been discredited by a record of tiles ‘by him delivered’. From 1511 to 1542...
Ellen Callmann and J. W. Taylor
Term used for large, lavishly decorated chests made in Italy from the 14th century to the end of the 16th. The word is an anachronism, taken from Vasari (2/1568, ed. G. Milanesi, 1878–85, ii, p. 148), the 15th-century term being forziero. Wealthy households needed many chests, but the ornate cassoni, painted and often combined with pastiglia decoration, were usually commissioned in pairs when a house was renovated for a newly married couple and were ordered, together with other furnishings, by the groom. Florence was the main centre of production, though cassoni were also produced in Siena and occasionally in the Veneto and elsewhere.
The earliest cassoni were simple structures with rounded lids, probably painted in solid colours, such as the red cassone in Giotto’s Annunciation to St Anne (c. 1305; Padua, Arena Chapel). The earliest known chests with painted designs are all from the same shop (e.g. Florence, Pal. Davanzati, inv. mob. 162). Like the much more numerous contemporary chests with gilded low-relief in pastiglia (...
Kathryn A. Charles
[Silvio da Fiesole; Silvio di fu Giovanni di Neri de’ Ceparelli]
(b Poggibonsi, c. 1495; d Milan, after 1547).
Italian sculptor and stuccoist. Noted for his decorative work, trophies, masks and stucco ornaments, he was trained in the style of Michelangelo by Andrea Ferrucci in Florence. His first independent commission, the tomb of Raffaelle Maffei (il Volterrano) in S Lino at Volterra (1522), was arranged by Ferrucci. He usually worked with other artists, including his brother Vincenzo (b c. 1505). In 1524 Ferrucci was commissioned to execute the monument to Antonio Strozzi in S Maria Novella, Florence, for which Cosini carved a relief of the Virgin and Child. His execution of the face recalls Ferrucci’s technique, derived from Leonardo da Vinci. Also in this period Cosini executed the monument to Ruggero Minerbetti for the same church, in which Michelangelo’s influence is especially apparent. Cosini’s approach was elegant as well as humorous, and his skill as a carver enabled him to give marble a tender, flesh-like quality. His ability was recognized by ...
[Nanni, Giovanni; Ricamatori, Giovanni dei]
(b Udine, Oct 27, 1487; d Rome, 1564).
Italian stuccoist, painter, draughtsman and architect. In 1502 he was apprenticed to Giovanni Martini (also called Giovanni da Udine; d 1535), a painter in Udine, and subsequently he may have studied with Giorgione in Venice. According to Vasari, armed with a letter of introduction to Baldassare Castiglione, he decided to go to Rome to seek work with Raphael. He joined Raphael’s workshop, where he may have learnt techniques of still-life painting from a Netherlandish colleague. The musical instruments in Raphael’s St Cecilia altarpiece (1516; Bologna, Pin. N.) are often attributed to Giovanni.
In Rome, Giovanni da Udine was particularly inspired by the decoration of ancient buildings. Excavations revealed rooms then underground (thus called grotte) with a style of painted and plastered decoration incorporating foliated scrolls, naturalistic animals and plants and fantastic figures and architecture (hence called grotteschi; see Grotesque). Such motifs had been copied before in Rome (notably by Bernardino Pinturicchio), but it was ...
(b Volterra, 1509; d Rome, April 4, 1566).
Italian painter, stuccoist and sculptor. Much of the fascination of his career resides in the development of his style from provincial origins to a highly sophisticated manner, combining the most accomplished elements of the art of Michelangelo, Raphael and their Mannerist followers in a distinctive and highly original way. He provided an influential model for numerous later artists in Rome.
The only work to survive from Daniele’s early career is a fresco, a political allegory of Justice, painted shortly after 1530 for the Palazzo dei Priori in Volterra (now detached, Volterra, Pin. Com.). It reflects the pervasive influence of Sodoma, with whom he is presumed to have studied in Siena. Badly damaged and overpainted, it is a generally clumsy work, demonstrating an inadequate grasp of foreshortening; it exhibits the difficultà of manner noted by Vasari.
It is not known exactly when Daniele travelled to Rome, but it is now generally assumed that his initial work there on the ...
(b Breda, bapt Nov 11, 1637; d Paris, May 2, 1694).
French sculptor and stuccoist of Dutch birth. He trained in Antwerp with Peeter Verbrugghen (i) and at some time in the 1650s went to Paris. There he worked with the sculptors Gérard van Opstal and the brothers Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy, who had also trained in the southern Netherlands. He worked (c. 1659–60) for van Opstal on the portal of the château of Vincennes (destr.) and with the Marsy brothers c. 1658 on stucco decorations at the Hôtel d’Aubert de Fontenay (now Hôtel Salé), Paris. By c. 1660, when he executed the stucco decoration of the staircase of the Hôtel de Beauvais, he was working independently. These early works show his Antwerp schooling. In 1661 he became a member of the Académie de St Luc under his adopted name of Desjardins. Throughout the 1660s he concentrated on church decorations and funerary monuments. This phase ended in 1671 with his marble monument to ...
(b Augsburg, c. 1535; d Augsburg, Nov 1621–April 1622).
German cabinetmaker and architect. His name first appears on the tax registers for Augsburg in 1557 and continues to appear regularly until 1621. He married c. 1558 and bought a house in 1561, by which time he probably already had his master’s certificate. Although there is little mention of his work in the 1560s, his reputation was such that he was employed by Hans Fugger (see Fugger, Hans) in 1569 to work on the new state apartments in the Fuggerhaus on the Weinmarkt in Augsburg. Here he came into contact with such artists as Friedrich Sustris, Alessandro Paduano and Carlo Pallago, whose Grotesque style clearly influenced his later work. By 1573 he had provided tables, chairs, wood panelling and vaults for Fugger’s house. Other commissions from the Fugger family followed: there is documentary evidence of a sizeable commission for Marx Fugger, probably for his burial chapel (the Andreaskapelle) in the abbey of SS Ulrich and Afra at Augsburg. Its decoration and furnishings made between ...
(b ?April 9, 1691; d Mannheim, Jan 11, 1752).
German sculptor, stuccoist, draughtsman and illustrator. He was the most important sculptor active in Franconia and the Palatinate in the first half of the 18th century; nevertheless, although his very individual late Baroque sculpture, mostly carved in wood, was highly regarded by his contemporaries, he was quickly forgotten after his death. His rich oeuvre was severely depleted, particularly as a result of World War II. It was only after that date that his importance was reassessed. Egell probably served an apprenticeship with the Würzburg sculptor Balthasar Esterbauer (1672–1722) and collaborated on the interior decoration of the Banz monastery. His first documented work is an expressive Crucifix made in 1716 for St Michael’s Monastery in Bamberg (now in St Otto, Bamberg). His stylistic development was affected by his work between 1716–17 and 1719 as one of the team directed by Balthasar Permoser, which made all the sculptural decorations at the Zwinger in Dresden for ...