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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

Alberti, Leon Battista

(b Genoa, 14 Feb 1404; d Rome, April 1472). Italian architect, sculptor, painter, theorist and writer. The arts of painting, sculpture and architecture were, for Alberti, only three of an exceptionally broad range of interests, for he made his mark in fields as diverse as family ethics, philology and cryptography. It is for his contribution to the visual arts, however, that he is chiefly remembered. Alberti single-handedly established a theoretical foundation for the whole of Renaissance art with three revolutionary treatises, on painting, sculpture and architecture, which were the first works of their kind since Classical antiquity. Moreover, as a practitioner of the arts, he was no less innovative. In sculpture he seems to have been instrumental in popularizing, if not inventing, the portrait medal, but it was in architecture that he found his métier. Building on the achievements of his immediate predecessors, Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, he reinterpreted anew the architecture of antiquity and introduced compositional formulae that have remained central to classical design ever since.

Paul Davies, David Hemsoll

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Alexander the Great

[Alexander III], King of Macedon

(b Pella, Macedonia, 356 BC; reg 336–323 BC; d Babylon, 10 June 323 BC).

Macedonian monarch and patron. Having inherited the kingdom from his assassinated father, Philip of Macedon (reg 359–336 BC), he invaded Asia in 334 BC and twice defeated the Persians. After invading Egypt, he founded Alexandria in 331 BC and was hailed by the oracle of Amun at Siwah as ‘Son of Zeus’. He then moved into Persia, crushed the main Persian army at Gaugamela, occupied Persepolis, Susa and Pasargadae and declared himself Great King. Advancing via Afghanistan into India, he founded en route several other Alexandrias. However, after his defeat of the Indian king Porus in 326 BC, his army mutinied, compelling his return to Babylon. Increasingly alcoholic and devastated by the death of his lover Hephaistion but still planning further conquests, he died of a fever in 323 BC. Alexander’s patronage of major artists and his conquest of the Near East were major catalysts for change in Greek art, so that within a generation of his death the parochial artistic styles of the Classical city states had given way to the cosmopolitan art of the Hellenistic world.

Andrew F. Stewart

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Alighieri, Dante

(b Florence, May 1265; d Ravenna, ?14 ?Sept 1321).

Italian writer. He is universally recognized as the greatest poet of the Middle Ages. His masterpiece, the Divine Comedy (begun 1307 or 1314), contains many passages in which Dante expressed his appreciation of painting and sculpture, and the themes in the poem have challenged artists from the 14th century to the present day.

Joan Isobel Friedman

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[Gr. allegoria, description of something under the guise of something else]. Term used to describe a method of expressing complex abstract ideas or a work of art composed according to this. An allegory is principally constructed from personifications and symbols, and, though overlapping in function, it is thus more sophisticated in both meaning and operation than either of these. It . . . constitutes an important area of study in iconography and iconology.

Morgan Falconer

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An image-bearing structure set on the rear part of the altar, abutting the back of the altarblock, or set behind the altar in such a way as to be visually joined with the altar when viewed from a distance. It is also sometimes called a retable, following the medieval term retrotabulum [retabulum, retrotabularium]. The altarpiece was never officially prescribed by the Church, but it did perform a prescribed function alternatively carried out by a simple inscription on the altarblock: to declare to which saint or mystery the altar was dedicated. In fact, the altarpiece did more than merely identify the altar; its form and content evoked the mystery or personage whose cult was celebrated at the altar. This original and lasting function influenced the many forms taken by the altarpiece throughout its history.

Alexander Nagel

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Altoviti, Bindo

(b Rome, 26 Nov 1491; d Rome, 22 Jan 1557).

Italian banker and patron. He was born of a noble Florentine family. At the age of 16 he inherited the family bank in Rome and, after the closure in 1528 of the rival bank founded by Agostino Chigi, became the most important papal financier in the city. Despite his position as Florentine consul in Rome, he was vigorously opposed to the Medici regime and his residence near the Ponte Sant’Angelo became the gathering place of many Florentine exiles. This palazzo was restored by Altoviti in 1514 (destr. 1888) and housed a rich collection of antiquities from Hadrian’s Villa and many commissioned works.

Clare Robertson

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Ammanati, Bartolomeo

Ammanati [Ammannati], Bartolomeo [Bartolommeo]

(b Settignano, nr Florence, 18 June 1511; d Florence, 13 April 1592).

Italian sculptor and architect. He was a major figure in Italian art in the second and third quarters of the 16th century. His extensive travels in north and central Italy gave him an unequalled understanding of developments in architecture and sculpture in the era of Mannerism. His style was based inevitably on the example of Michelangelo but was modified by the suaver work of Jacopo Sansovino. In both sculpture and architecture Ammanati was a highly competent craftsman, and his masterpieces, the tombs of Marco Mantova Benavides and two members of the del Monte family, the Fountain of Juno and the Fountain of Neptune and the courtyard of the Palazzo Pitti, are among the finest works of the period.

Charles Avery

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Angelico, Fra

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

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

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Anguissola, Sofonisba

(b Cremona, c. 1532; d Palermo, Nov 1625).

The best known of the sisters, she was trained, with Elena, by Campi and Gatti. Most of Vasari’s account of his visit to the Anguissola family is devoted to Sofonisba, about whom he wrote: ‘Anguissola has shown greater application and better grace than any other woman of our age in her endeavours at drawing; she has thus succeeded not only in drawing, colouring and painting from nature, and copying excellently from others, but by herself has created rare and very beautiful paintings’. Sofonisba’s privileged background was unusual among woman artists of the 16th century, most of whom, like Lavinia Fontana, Fede Galizia and Barbara Longhi, were daughters of painters. Her social class did not, however, enable her to transcend the constraints of her sex. Without the possibility of studying anatomy, or drawing from life, she could not undertake the complex multi-figure compositions required for large-scale religious or history paintings. She turned instead to the models accessible to her, exploring a new type of portraiture with sitters in informal domestic settings.

Marco Tanzi

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Anjou, House of

French dynasty of rulers, patrons and collectors. The first House of Anjou was founded by Charles of Anjou (1266–85) and was active mainly in Italy, notably as kings of Naples and Jerusalem. Members of the second House of Anjou lost Naples to the house of Aragon but continued to style themselves as kings of Naples, Sicily and Jerusalem until the death of Charles, 5th Duke of Anjou, in 1481, when the titular kingdom passed to Louis XI, King of France.

Joan Isobel Friedman

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(b ?Mantua, c. 1460; d Gazzuolo, 1528). Italian sculptor. An expert in goldsmith work, bronze sculpture and medals, he earned his nickname ‘Antico’ because of his ‘astonishing penetration of antiquity’ (Nesselrath). He achieved lasting fame through his small-scale re-creations (often also reinterpretations) of famous, but often fragmentary, statues of antiquity (e.g. the Apollo Belvedere, Rome, Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clementino, and the Spinario, Rome, Mus. Conserv.). Most of these bronze statuettes were made for the Gonzaga family, notably for Ludovico, Bishop of Mantua, and for Isabella d’Este, wife of Francesco II Gonzaga, 4th Marchese of Mantua. Antico also restored ancient marble statues and acted as an adviser to collectors.

Charles Avery

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Antoniazzo Romano

[Antonio di Benedetto Aquilio]

(b before 1452; d between 15 April 1508 and 1512).

Italian painter. He was the leading painter of the Roman school during the 15th century. His first recorded commission dates from 1461 when he made a replica (untraced) of the miraculous Virgin and Child of St Luke in S Maria Maggiore, Rome, for Alessandro Sforza, Lord of Pesaro; by 1464 he was working for the papal court. . . . Antoniazzo was one of the three founders of the Compagnia di S Luca, the guild of painters in Rome, and signed the statutes in 1478.

Eunice D. Howe

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(b Kolophon, Ionia; fl late 4th century BC–early 3rd century BC; d ?Kos).

Greek painter. . . . According to Pliny, Apelles flourished in the 112th Olympiad (332BC), and his association with Philip II of Macedon implies that his career began before 336 BC. His work for Ptolemy I of Egypt suggests that it lasted until after 304 BC, when Ptolemy declared himself king. No painting by Apelles survives, however, and his works are known only from literary sources.

Apelles studied painting first under Ephoros of Ephesos, then under Pamphilos of Sikyon (Suidas). According to Plutarch (Aratos xiii), however, he was already much admired before he went to Sikyon and enrolled at the school simply to share in its reputation. . . . Apelles’ fame was later based primarily on his portraits, especially of Philip II and Alexander the Great. Several sources, including Pliny (XXXV.xxxvi.85), state that Alexander allowed no artist but Apelles to paint him, and two anecdotes apparently confirm his privileged status.

Ancient critics regarded the most notable quality of Apelles’ work as its grace (Gr. charis, Lat.venustas), in the sense both of outward beauty and of an inner spiritual radiance.

Susan B. Matheson

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Apollonio di Giovanni

Apollonio di Giovanni (di Tomaso) [Dido Master; Master of the Jarves Cassoni; Virgil Master; Compagno diPesellino]

(b Florence, c. 1416; d Florence, 1465).

Italian painter and illuminator. He was trained by illuminators in the circle of Bartolomeo di Fruosino and Battista di Biagio Sanguini (1393–1451) and became a member of the Arte dei Medici e degli Speziali in 1442 and of the Compania di S Luca in 1443. Apollonio was influenced by Filippo Lippi, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Paolo Uccello. For much of his working life, from c. 1446 to 1458 and perhaps later, he was in partnership with Marco del Buono di Marco (?1403–after 1480). Apollonio specialized in work for the secular sphere, painting cassoni, deschi da parto (birth trays), spalliere (panels attached to furniture or set into wall panelling), images for private devotion and other furnishings, as well as illuminating manuscripts. His clients were Florentine merchants, bankers, notaries and others.

Ellen Callmann

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Appian of Alexandria (c. 95–165) was a Greek who wrote a 24-volume Roman History. The most important of its surviving sections address the civil wars before the ascendancy of Augustus.

Aquinas, Thomas

(b Roccasecca, c. 1225; d Fossanova, 7 March 1274; can 18 July 1323; fd formerly 7 March; since 1970, 28 Jan).

Italian saint and theologian. He studied at Monte Cassino and the University of Naples, and then in 1244 he joined the Dominicans. In 1256, after further study under Albert the Great (1200–80) in Paris and Cologne, he became a Master of Theology. For the rest of his life he worked in Paris and in Italy. His contemporaries and immediate successors regarded him as a very important theologian, but it was not until the 16th century that he came to be thought pre-eminent among Catholic systematic thinkers. He produced two major works, the Summa contra Gentiles and the Summa theologiae, and the latter was unfinished at his death. . . . His emblem in art is a star.

John Marenbon

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Aragon, House of

Spanish dynasty of rulers, patrons and collectors, active in Italy. The county of Aragon was established as a kingdom in 1035 under Ramiro I (reg 1035–63), son of Sancho III the Great, King of Navarre (reg 1000–35). In the 13th century James I the Conqueror, King of Aragon (reg 1213–76), extended the kingdom by taking control of Valencia and the Balearic islands. His son, Peter III, King of Aragon (reg 1276–85), also became King of Sicily in 1282, following a revolt against the rule of the House of Anjou. Separate branches of the Aragonese dynasty, which included Peter IV, King of Aragon (reg 1336–87), ruled the two kingdoms until 1409, when Martin, King of Aragon (reg 1395–1410), succeeded to the kingdom of Sicily. On his death in 1410 both kingdoms were given to his nephew, Ferdinand (reg 1412–16), son of John I, King of Castile (reg 1379–90). Ferdinand’s successor, Alfonso (who ruled as Alfonso V, King of Aragon and Sicily), was the adopted heir of the Queen of Naples and seized control of the kingdom of Naples in 1442, becoming Alfonso I. He and his descendants (who reigned until 1504), including Ferdinand I and Alfonso II, embarked on extensive programmes of building in the city, the most notable work being the improvements to the fortress of Castelnuovo.

Joan Isobel Friedman

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Ariosto, Ludovico

(b Reggio Emilia, 8 Sept 1474; d Ferrara, 6 July 1533). Italian poet. His father was a captain in the service of the ruling Este family at Ferrara, and Ariosto studied Latin literature and philosophy at the studium (university) there. From 1503, he served first Cardinal Ippolito I d’Este and then his brother, Alfonso I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, in various administrative and diplomatic capacities, finally retiring around 1526. His supervision (1526–33) of the ducal theatre at Ferrara enabled him to collaborate with, among others, Dosso Dossi and Battista Dossi, who designed sets for several of his comedies. Despite the brilliance of these and of his seven Satires (1517–25), Ariosto’s fame rests on his romance-epic in Italian, Orlando furioso (Ferrara, 1516, 1521, 1532). The poem, begun in 1502 and completed only shortly before his death, uses Charlemagne’s war against the Saracens as a backdrop to explore typical Renaissance themes such as love, madness and fidelity.

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(b Stagira, 384 BC; d Khalkis, 322 BC).

Ancient Greek philosopher. Born to a physician at the Macedonian court, Aristotle travelled to Athens in his 18th year to study philosophy at Plato’s Academy. He remained for nearly twenty years until Plato’s death in 348 BC; he was then forced to leave Athens: probably he had come under suspicion because of his Macedonian connections. He went first to Assos, then to Mytilene, doing the original biological research on which his later scientific writings are based. During this period, he spent some time as tutor to the young Alexander the Great (reg 336–323 BC); the relationship does not seem to have been a warm one. Returning to Athens in 335 BC, he set up his own philosophical school, later called the Lyceum. From the colonnaded path, or peripatos, attached to the building, his followers were later called ‘Peripatetics’. Here he taught, and wrote most of his surviving works. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, anti-Macedonian feeling once again forced Aristotle to leave Athens; he died in exile of a stomach ailment about a year later.

Martha C. Nussbaum

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Aspertini, Amico

(b Bologna, 1474–5; d Bologna, 19 Nov 1552).

Italian painter, sculptor, illuminator, printmaker and draughtsman. He was born into a family of painters, and his youthful facility reportedly astonished his contemporaries. His work developed in the Emilian–Ferrarese tradition of Ercole de’ Roberti, Lorenzo Costa the elder and, above all, Francesco Francia. Until the re-evaluation by Longhi, critical assessment of Amico’s oeuvre was over-reliant on literary sources, especially Vasari’s unsympathetic account of an eccentric, half-insane master . . .  Longhi presented Amico as a creative master whose expressive intensity and sensitive use of colour rescued Bolognese painting of the early 16th century from sterile echoes of Raphael. Today Aspertini is viewed as an influential precursor of Mannerism . . .

Phyllis Pray Bober

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Augustus, Emperor

[Octavian; Gaius Octavius; Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus]

(b Rome, 23 Sept 63 BC; reg 27 BC–AD 14; d Nola, 19 Aug AD 14).

Roman emperor and patron. When Gaius Octavius was named the heir of Julius Caesar (assassinated 44 BC), he was a politically unknown 18 year old. Early portrait types presented him bearded, as a sign of mourning for his adoptive father, thereby reinforcing his claim to be Caesar’s rightful successor. Octavian’s most important programme of artistic patronage, however, followed his assumption in 27 BC of the title ‘Augustus’ (Lat.: ‘venerable’) and with it effective monarchic power. Artistic patronage was a vehicle by which Augustus sought to legitimate his new position in terms of traditional Roman values.

Jeremy J. Tanner

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Value is often placed on an aesthetic object being ‘genuine’, ‘authentic’ and so on, but nothing is ‘authentic’ per se. If we are asked whether what is before us is authentic, our response could justifiably be: ‘Authentic what?’ It might be an authentic oil painting, an authentic Italian painting, an authentic Renaissance painting, yet not an authentic Leonardo da Vinci painting, not the authentic Mona Lisa. Authenticity is always authenticity under one or another description. The question ‘Is it authentic?’ must be replaced by, or understood as, a question of the form ‘Is it an (or the) authentic so-and-so?’. When the question at hand is thus clarified, the term ‘authentic’ tends to become superfluous. . . . Questions of authenticity—of when, where and by whom a picture was painted—are in some cases settled by a complete and dependable record of the work since it left the artist’s hands. When no such record is available, the primary means of seeking to determine whether a picture was painted during a given period or in a given region or by a given artist is expert visual comparison with works already accepted and works already rejected as of the same period or region or by the same artist. The expert eye is, however, fallible, subject to countless perturbations and constantly in a process of learning—of becoming more perceptive and acute through training and study. Furthermore, the corpus of works taken as standards for comparison may itself be revised over time.

Nelson Goodman

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Revelry, originally associated with the wine god Bacchus.

Bandinelli, Baccio

[Brandini, Bartolomeo]

(b Gaiole in Chianti, 17 Oct 1493; d Florence, 7 Feb 1560).

Italian sculptor, painter and draughtsman. He was the son of Michelagnolo di Viviano (1459–1528), a prominent Florentine goldsmith who was in the good graces of the Medici and who taught Cellini and Raffaello da Montelupo. Baccio remained loyal to the Medici, despite their being in exile from 1494 to 1513, and this led to a flow of commissions after the elections to the papacy of Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici) in 1513 and of Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici) a decade later; after Cosimo de’ Medici became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1537, these increased still further. This political stance made him unpopular with most Florentines, including Michelangelo, who were Republican at heart, and this lay at the root of much of the adverse criticism—not always justified—that greeted Bandinelli’s statues.

Charles Avery

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Barnaba da Modena

(b Modena; fl 1361–83).

Italian painter. Although a native of Modena (Emilia), he was first recorded as a Genoese citizen, hiring Tuscan assistants in 1361 and 1362. He was paid for paintings for the Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, in 1364; a Virgin and Child (1367; Frankfurt am Main, Städel. Kstinst.), signed in Janua, is thought to be by him. His earliest certain painting is the damaged polyptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints (Genoa, Pal. Bianco), signed, unlike later works, in capital letters. Its frame awkwardly combines the light Gothic arcading of Tuscan polyptychs with the continuous contour and simple gables of Emilian design. The incongruities of figure scale, the blackish undertone to the flesh painting and the small features and tall cranium of the Child all derive from Venetian painting, while the careful modelling of Mary’s eyes and puckered lips show the influence of the Lorenzetti brothers and their Sienese followers.

John Richards

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Barocci, Federico


(b Urbino, c. 1535; d Urbino, 30 Sept 1612).

Italian painter. The leading altar painter in Italy in the second half of the 16th century, he enjoyed a greater popularity and exerted a more profound influence on the art of his time than any of his contemporaries. His patrons included the Pope, Emperor, King of Spain and Grand Duke of Tuscany, and among his admirers were Lodovico Cigoli, Annibale Carracci, Rubens and Guido Reni. However, his work did not begin to receive the acclaim accorded that of Tintoretto or El Greco until the mid-20th century.

Edmund P. Pillsbury

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Bartolomeo di Giovanni

(fl Florence, c. 1475–c. 1500/05).

Italian painter, draughtsman and designer. His only documented works are the seven predella panels for Domenico Ghirlandaio’s altarpiece of the Adoration of the Magi (Florence, Gal. Osp. Innocenti), painted in 1488 for S Maria degli Innocenti, the church of the Foundling Hospital, Florence (Bruscoli).

Nicoletta Pons

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Bartolommeo, Fra

Bartolommeo [Bartolomeo], Fra [Porta, Baccio della]

(b Florence, 28 March 1472; d Florence, 31 Oct 1517).

Italian painter and draughtsman. Vasari and later historians agree that Fra Bartolommeo was an essential force in the formation and growth of the High Renaissance. He was the first painter in Florence to understand Leonardo da Vinci’s painterly and compositional procedures. Later he created a synthesis between Leonardo’s tonal painting and Venetian luminosity of colour. Equally important were his inventions for depicting divinity as a supernatural force, and his type of sacra conversazione in which the saints are made to witness and react to a biblical event occurring before their eyes, rather than standing in devout contemplation, as was conventional before. His drawings, too, are exceptional both for their abundance and for their level of inventiveness.

Ludovico Borgo, Margot Borgo

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Bassano, Jacopo

(b Bassano del Grappa, c. 1510; d Bassano del Grappa, 13 Feb 1592).

Son of Francesco Bassano il vecchio. He was apprenticed to his father, with whom he collaborated on the Nativity (1528; Valstagna, Vicenza, parish church). In the first half of the 1530s Jacopo trained in Venice with Bonifazio de’ Pitati, whose influence, with echoes of Titian, is evident in the Flight into Egypt (1534; Bassano del Grappa, Mus. Civ.). He continued to work in the family shop until his father’s death in 1539. His paintings from those years were mainly altarpieces for local churches; many show signs of collaboration. He also worked on public commissions, such as the three canvases on biblical subjects (1535–6; Bassano del Grappa, Mus. Civ.) for the Palazzo Communale, Bassano del Grappa, in which the narrative schemes learnt from Bonifazio are combined with a new naturalism. From 1535 he concentrated on fresco painting, executing, for example, the interior and exterior decoration (1536–7) of S Lucia di Tezze, Vicenza, which demonstrates the maturity of his technique.

Livia Alberton Vinco da Sesso

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Bavosi, Jacopino di Francesco

(fl c. 1320–60).

Italian painter or group of painters. Jacopino di Francesco Bavosi was a well-documented artist active 1360–83 whose work has not been satisfactorily identified. In 1365 Jacopino and his son Pietro, who was also a painter (fl 1365–83), were employed as junior partners of Andrea de’ Bartoli on frescoes for the Visconti Palace at Pavia. . . . The first work of the principal artist of the earlier works of this group is a small Crucifixion (Avignon, Mus. Petit Pal.), in which strong Riminese influence is evident in the incised diapered gold background, close-set, vertical drapery folds and the olive greens and pinks. The lively gestures and distinctive dress of the protagonists are typical of the works produced c. 1320–40 . . .  The heart of the Pseudo-Jacopino corpus is made up of three polyptychs (Bologna, Pin. N.), which are later in date, c. 1340–50. These show few Riminese traits and may be by a different hand from the previous group.

Robert Gibbs

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Beccafumi, Domenico

Beccafumi [Mecarino, Mecherino], Domenico (di Giacomo di Pace)

(b Cortine in Valdibiana Montaperti, 1484; d Siena, between Jan and May 1551).

Italian painter, sculptor, draughtsman, printmaker and illuminator. He was one of the protagonists, perhaps even the most precocious, of Tuscan Mannerism, which he practised with a strong sense of his Sienese artistic background but at the same time with an awareness of contemporary developments in Florence and Rome. He responded to the new demand for feeling and fantasy while retaining the formal language of the early 16th century. None of Beccafumi’s works is signed or dated, but his highly personal maniera has facilitated almost unanimous agreement regarding the definition of his corpus and the principal areas of influence on it. However, some questions concerning the circumstances of his early career and the choices available to him remain unanswered.

Fiorella Sricchia Santoro

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Italian family of artists. Primarily painters, the Bellini were arguably the most important of the many families that played so vital a role in shaping the character of Venetian art. They were largely responsible for introducing the Renaissance style into Venetian painting, and, more effectively than the rival Vivarini family, they continued to dominate painting in Venice throughout the second half of the 15th century.

Peter Humfrey

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Bellini, Gentile

(b Venice, ?1429; d Venice, 23 Feb 1507).

Painter and draughtsman, son of Jacopo Bellini. An official painter of the Venetian Republic, he was a dominant figure in Venetian art for several decades in the latter half of the 15th century, known particularly for portraits and large narrative paintings in which the city and its inhabitants are depicted in great detail.

Lucinda Hawkins

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Bellini, Giovanni


(b ?1431–6; d Venice, 29 Nov 1516). Painter and draughtsman, son of Jacopo Bellini. Although the professional needs of his family background may have encouraged him to specialize at an early date in devotional painting, by the 1480s he had become a leading master in all types of painting practised in 15th-century Venice. . . . His increasing dominance of Venetian art led to an enormous expansion of his workshop after c. 1490; and this provided the training-ground not only for his numerous shop-hands and imitators (generically known as Belliniani) but probably also for a number of major Venetian painters of the next generation. . . . It was thanks to Giovanni Bellini that the Venetian school of painting was transformed during the later 15th century from one mainly of local significance to one with an international reputation. He thus set the stage for the triumphs of Venetian painting in the 16th century and for the central contribution that Venice was to make to the history of European art.

Peter Humfrey

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Bellini, Jacopo

(b Venice, c. 1400; d Venice, between 26 Aug 1470 and 25 Nov 1471).

Painter and draughtsman. His surviving work consists of some 20 paintings—mostly small-scale, intimate devotional pictures—and nearly 300 drawings, contained in two volumes (Paris, Louvre; London, BM). The drawings constitute a unique oeuvre for a 15th-century artist, both in regard to their number and their nature; most of them are finished, independent compositions. Most of Jacopo’s large-scale picture cycles and important commissioned works have been destroyed. Known only through documentary evidence and contemporary sources, they are an indication of the high esteem in which he was held both in Venice and beyond.

Ursula Lehmann-Brockhaus

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Bembo, Pietro


(b Venice, 20 May 1470; d Rome, 18 Jan 1547).

Italian ecclesiastic, writer, collector and patron. His literary fame rests chiefly on his contributions to the development of Italian vernacular literature and to his revival of the Petrarchan style in poetry. Among his best-known works is Gli Asolani (written c. 1497; pubd 1505), which consists of Platonic dialogues on love. Born of a patrician family, he made several attempts to follow his father’s distinguished political career before deciding to devote himself to literature.

Clare Robertson

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Bentivoglio, Giovanni II

(b Bologna, 15 Feb 1443; d Milan, Feb 1508).

Great-nephew of (1) Sante Bentivoglio. He was Signore of Bologna from 1463 to 1506 and gained recognition not only from the popes, beginning with Paul II, but from the Habsburg ruler Maximilian I (Holy Roman Emperor from 1508). In May 1464 he married Ginevra, his predecessor’s widow, who had given Sante two children and was to give Giovanni a dozen. By skilful political manoeuvres, he added greatly to his patrimony, and hence his revenues, and he completed the construction of the Palazzo Bentivoglio, which became a sumptuous court. He also gained from Maximilian the right to coin money (1494).

Giorgio Tabarroni

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Benvenuto di Giovanni

(b Siena, 13 Sept 1436; d Siena, after 1518).

Italian painter. He was the son of a bricklayer and lived and worked in or near Siena all his life. . . . Among his extant works, nine are signed and dated altarpieces, four are identifiable through documents and many others can be attributed to him on stylistic grounds. Their dates span 43 years, and they include panel paintings, frescoes, manuscripts and designs for the decorative pavement of Siena Cathedral. . . . Benvenuto was probably trained in Vecchietta’s workshop, although stylistic affinities with Sano di Pietro suggest that he might also have worked for him. Benvenuto’s early works show that he gathered inspiration from sources both in and outside Siena. . . . Benvenuto’s imaginative archaistic use of Trecento motifs underlined the religious significance and civic associations of his art.

Cynthia Coté

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Berenson, Bernard

(b Butremancz, province of Vilnius, Lithuania, 26 June 1865; d Settignano, Florence, 6 Oct 1959).

Art historian and connoisseur. Son of a Lithuanian timber merchant who emigrated to the USA with his family in 1875, he was educated at the Latin School, Boston, and at Harvard, where he studied Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew and German. In an unsuccessful application for a travelling fellowship to Europe, he wrote, ‘Art prevails in this programme because it is there that I feel myself weakest. One can study literature here . . . but art not at all.’ On his subsequent visit to Europe in 1885, financed by friends, his visual self-education was rapid and led to the decision to settle in Italy and to devote his life to the study of Italian art.

William Mostyn-Owen

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Bertoldo di Giovanni

(b ?Florence, c. 1430–?1440; d Poggio a Caiano, nr Florence, 28 Dec 1491).

Italian sculptor and medallist. Throughout most of his career he was a member of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s Florentine household and in his old age was put in charge of the academy that met in the Medici sculpture garden. Bertoldo’s work contributed to the antique revival, and, in particular, he developed the genre of the bronze statuette, of which six examples by him survive. He also produced bronze reliefs and medals as well as working in other media. It is very likely that he is identifiable with one Bertoldo di Giovanni di Bertoldo, who was involved in a minor commercial transaction in 1463.

James David Draper

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Bessarion, Cardinal


(b Trebizond (now Trabzon), 2 Jan 1402; d Ravenna, 18 Nov 1472).

Byzantine cleric and patron. Consequent on the negotiations for the union of the Western and Eastern churches (1438–9), in which he took a prominent part, Bessarion changed to the Latin rite and was created a cardinal by Pope Eugenius IV (reg 1431–47). He resided in Rome from the 1440s as Cardinal Bishop of Sabina and Tusculum and later as titular Patriarch of Constantinople, during which time he employed the considerable revenues that he drew from these appointments to restore churches. . . . Bessarion’s patronage was influenced by his Byzantine roots.

Jonathan Harris

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Biagio d’Antonio

Biagio d’Antonio (Tucci)

(b Florence, 1446; d Florence, 1 June 1516).

Italian painter. He was previously confused with three other painters: Andrea Utili (fl 1481–96) of Faenza; ‘Giovanni Battista Utili’ (?1465–1516), whose second family name was Bertucci, also of Faenza; and Benedetto Ghirlandaio. . . . According to a catasto (land registry declaration), his surname was Tucci. An eclectic artist, he reflected the styles of many contemporary Tuscan painters, although his own slightly stiff and doll-like figure style is constant. . . . Biagio also produced many cassone paintings, in which he combined an animated narrative vein with an almost courtly taste for the description of rich and highly coloured costumes and armour.

Roberta Bartoli

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Boccaccio, Giovanni

(b ?nr Florence, 1313; d Certaldo, 21 Dec 1375).

Italian writer. He was the natural child of an unknown mother and Boccaccino di Chellino, a merchant banker. At the age of 14 Boccaccio was sent to Naples and apprenticed to a Florentine counting house; subsequently he attended the University of Naples, where he studied canon law and met many of the city’s leading scholars and humanists, including Paolo da Perugia, Andalo del Negro and Cina da Pistoia. Boccaccio’s desire to pursue a literary career eventually supplanted all other interests. One of the most influential writers of the 14th century, he is now known primarily for his works in Italian, in particular the Decameron. During his lifetime, however, such works in Latin as De claris mulieribus (1361), De casibus virorum illustrium (1355–60) and the immensely influential encyclopedia De genealogia deorum gentilium (written 1350–60; revised 1371–4) were the major sources of his fame and were often the subject of manuscript and book illustrations, especially in the 15th century.

Joan Isobel Friedman

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Book of Hours

Late medieval prayerbook containing, as its principal text, psalms and devotions (primarily invoking the Virgin Mary) for the eight canonical hours of the day: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. They were intended for private reading and meditation by the laity, forming a shorter version of the cycle of daily prayers and psalms recited from the breviary by members of religious orders. Each office is usually no more than a few pages long, and the books are generally small and portable, often of octavo size. Most surviving Books of Hours were made in the 15th century and early 16th, and they were produced in such numbers that they still form the most common surviving group of European illuminated manuscripts.

Christopher de Hamel

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Bordone, Paris

Bordone [Bordon], Paris

(b Treviso, bapt 5 July 1500; d Venice, 19 Jan 1571).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He is best known for his strikingly beautiful depictions of women, both in portraits and in cabinet paintings. He also excelled in rendering monumental architectural settings for narrative, both religious and secular, possibly initiating a genre that would find great currency during the mid-16th century, especially in Venice, France and the Netherlands. His favoured media were oil and fresco, the latter being used on both interiors and façades. Although he was not generally sought after by Venetian patrons during his career, as his art was eclipsed by that of Titian, Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Tintoretto, Bordone was regarded in the mid-16th century as an accomplished artist (Pino; Sansovino). He worked for the moneyed élite of northern Italy and Bavaria, for the royalty of France and Poland, and had works commissioned to be sent to Spain and to Flanders.

Corinne Mandel

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Borghini, Vincenzo

Borghini, Vincenzo (Maria)

(b Florence, 29 Oct 1515; d Florence, 18 Aug 1580).

Italian philologist, historian and artistic adviser. On 20 June 1531 he entered the Benedictine Order at the Badia in Florence, took his vows a year later and was appointed a deacon in 1537. While there he was mainly concerned with studying Classical authors. After spending fairly brief periods in Perugia, Rome, Montecassino, Naples, Arezzo and Venice he settled in Florence in 1544 with the intention of devoting himself mainly to the study of literature and history. However, in 1552 Cosimo I de’ Medici entrusted him with the time-consuming post of spedaglino (hospitaller) to the Ospedale di S Maria degl’Innocenti. . . . From 1563 to 1565 he was Luogotenente of the recently founded Accademia del Disegno , whose constitution he shaped . . .

Marlis von Hessert

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Botticelli, Sandro

[Filipepi, Alessandro (di Mariano di Vanni)]

(b Florence, 1444–5; d Florence, 17 May 1510).

Italian painter and draughtsman. In his lifetime he was one of the most esteemed painters in Italy, enjoying the patronage of the leading families of Florence, in particular the Medici and their banking clients. He was summoned to take part in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, was highly commended by diplomatic agents to Ludovico Sforza in Milan and Isabella d’Este in Mantua and also received enthusiastic praise from the famous mathematician Luca Pacioli and the humanist poet Ugolino Verino. By the time of his death, however, Botticelli’s reputation was already waning. . . . From that time his name virtually disappeared until the reassessment of his reputation that gathered momentum in the 1890s.

Charles Dempsey

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Bracciolini, Poggio

(b Terranova, Tuscany, 11 February 1380; d Florence, 30 October 1459).

Italian scholar, collector and writer.

After notarial training in Florence, during which he came under the influence of the humanist Chancellor Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406), Poggio worked as a papal bureaucrat from 1404 to 1453, with intermissions including a period in England (1418–23); he then became Florentine Chancellor himself (1453–6). The earlier part of his life was marked by discoveries of Latin texts hitherto unknown, including works of Lucretius, speeches of Cicero, Vitruvius’ On Architecture and the complete works of Quintilian. He later issued histories and treatises on moral, social and scholarly questions.

M. C. Davies

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Bronzino, Agnolo

[Agniolo di Cosimo di Mariano Tori]

(b Monticelli, nr Florence, 17 Nov 1503; d Florence, 23 Nov 1572).

Italian painter and poet. He dominated Florentine painting from the 1530s to the 1560s. He was court artist to Cosimo I de’ Medici, and his sophisticated style and extraordinary technical ability were ideally suited to the needs and ideals of his ducal patron. He was a leading decorator, and his religious subjects and mythological scenes epitomize the grace of the high maniera style; his cool and highly disciplined portraits perfectly convey the atmosphere of the Medici court and of an intellectual élite.

Janet Cox-Rearick

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Brunelleschi, Filippo

(b Florence, 1377; d Florence, 16 April 1446).

Italian architect and sculptor. He is traditionally regarded as the father of Renaissance architecture, who, in the words of Vasari, ‘was sent by Heaven to invest architecture with new forms, after it had wandered astray for many centuries’. The ‘new forms’ were those of Classical antiquity, which Brunelleschi applied to such building types as churches and orphanages for which there were no ancient precedents. In these schemes he was the first since antiquity to make use of the Classical orders; at the same time he employed a proportional system of his own invention, in which all units were related to a simple module, the mathematical characteristics of which informed the entire structure. Brunelleschi worked almost exclusively in Florence, and many features link his architecture with the Romanesque—if not the Gothic—heritage of that city. Nevertheless, he was beyond question responsible for initiating the rediscovery of ancient Roman architecture. He understood its inherent principles and he employed them in an original manner for the building tasks of his own day.

Harold Meek

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Design engraved, carved or moulded in relief on gemstones, glass, ceramics etc; it uses layers of different colours, which can be transparent or opaque, so that the background and raised ground contrast. There are often just two colours: one dark colour, the other lighter, often white. The most common form is a medallion with a profile portrait. The cameo technique is the opposite of intaglio. Cameos were made in Classical Greece and Rome and revived during the Renaissance.

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A drawing or painted or engraved composition combining features of imaginary and/or real architecture, ruined or intact, in a picturesque setting. In its fantasy element it is the opposite of the Veduta. It reached its apogee as a popular genre during the era of the Grand Tour of Europe, which produced a heavy demand for pictorial souvenirs. Italy, in particular, offered real landscapes with Classical ruins; all that was required to elaborate and combine existing remains within a picturesque setting was a degree of poetic licence. Architectural fantasy in paintings, drawings and engravings had also a creative function, as an outlet for artists’ and architects’ imaginative expression or experiments, uninhibited by the prescriptive terms of commissions or by practical needs. The capriccio fulfilled in addition a decorative role, ranging from large-scale painted images within room decoration to miniature painted scenes on furnishings and ceramics.

John Wilton-Ely

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Carpaccio, Vittore

[Carpathius; Carpatio; Scarpaza; Scharpaza; Scarpazza; Scarpatia]

(b Venice, ?1460–6; d Venice, 1525–6).

His name is associated above all with the cycles of lively and festive narrative paintings that he executed for several of the Venetian scuole, or devotional confraternities. He also seems to have enjoyed a considerable reputation as a portrait painter. While evidently owing much in both these fields to his older contemporaries, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, Carpaccio quickly evolved a readily recognizable style of his own which is marked by a taste for decorative splendour and picturesque anecdote. His altarpieces and smaller devotional works are generally less successful, particularly after about 1510, when he seems to have suffered a crisis of confidence in the face of the radical innovations of younger artists such as Giorgione and Titian.

Peter Humfrey

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Drawing, sometimes coloured, made specifically as a pattern for a painting, textile or stained-glass panel. It is produced on the same scale as the final work and is usually fairly detailed. The transfer of the image works best if the drawing in the cartoon is of a linear nature and if the composition has crisp, clear outlines.

Shirley Millidge

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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.

J. W. Taylor

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Castagno, Andrea del

[Andrea di Bartolo di Simone di Bargiella; Andreino degli Impicchati]

(b Castagno, before 1419; d Florence, bur 19 Aug 1457).

Italian painter. He was the most influential 15th-century Florentine master, after Masaccio, of the realistic rendering of the figure and the representation of the human body as a three-dimensional solid by means of contours. By translating into the terms of painting the statues of the Florentine sculptors Nanni di Banco and Donatello, Castagno set Florentine painting on a course dominated by line (the Florentine tradition of disegno), the effect of relief and the sculptural depiction of the figure that became its distinctive trait throughout the Italian Renaissance, a trend that culminated in the art of Michelangelo.

Hellmut Wohl

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Castiglione, Baldassare

Castiglione, Baldassare [Baldesar], Conte

(b Casatico, nr Mantua, 6 Dec 1478; d Toledo, 2 Feb 1529).

Italian writer, humanist, diplomat and soldier. He was educated from 1490 to 1499 at the court of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, where he met Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanni Cristoforo Romano. He was in the service of Francesco II Gonzaga, 4th Marchese of Mantua, in 1499–1504, after which he was at the court of Urbino until 1516, serving first Guidobaldo I, Duke of Urbino, and afterwards his successor, Francesco-Maria I della Rovere. There he met Pietro Bembo, Ludovico da Canossa (1476–1532), Giuliano de’ Medici, Duc de Nemours, and Raphael, with whom he developed a strong friendship. In 1508 Castiglione began Il libro del cortegiano, for which he is best remembered. It was finished in 1518 and revised and published in 1528. In these fictitious dialogues, set in the palace rooms of Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, the courtiers, all historical persons, discuss the proper education for the ideal aristocrat. Castiglione dated the dialogues to 1506, when he was in fact in England representing Guidobaldo at the installation ceremony of the Order of the Garter. Il libro del cortegiano is divided into four books. In Book I, in the guise of Ludovico da Canossa, its interlocutor, Castiglione, expressed his views on sculpture and painting.

Doris Fletcher

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Catena, Vincenzo

Vincenzo di Biagio

(b ?Venice, c. 1470–80; d Venice, Sept 1531).

Italian painter. His paintings represent the perpetuation of the style of Giovanni Bellini into the second quarter of the 16th century. He made few concessions to the modern style that was being introduced to Venice by Titian, Palma Vecchio, Pordenone and others in the same period. This archaicizing tendency was shared by several minor Bellinesque painters of the period . . .  Catena, together with Marco Basaiti, with whose works Catena’s are sometimes confused, can be considered the most accomplished of these. Despite the fact that he counted several humanists in his circle, the extant repertory of his subjects is limited to religious themes.

Philip Rylands

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Cellini, Benvenuto

(b Florence, 3 Nov 1500; d Florence, 13 Feb 1571).

Italian goldsmith, medallist, sculptor and writer. He was one of the foremost Italian Mannerist artists of the 16th century, working in Rome for successive popes, in France for Francis I and in Florence for Cosimo I de’ Medici. Among his most famous works are the elaborate gold figural salt made for Francis I (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.; see fig. below) and the bronze statue of Perseus (Florence, Loggia Lanzi). His Vita is among the most compelling autobiographies written by an artist and is generally considered to be an important work of Italian literature.

Alessandro Nova

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Cennini, Cennino

(b Colle di Val d’Elsa, nr Florence, c. 1370; d Florence, c. 1440).

Italian writer and painter. His father Andrea Cennini was also probably a painter. Cennino began his career in Florence as a pupil of Agnolo Gaddi, with whom he claimed to have spent 12 years. Agnolo was both a son and pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, who in turn had been taught by Giotto. Cennino, therefore, represented the third generation trained in the Giottesque tradition, a fact he proudly emphasized. He is cited in only two documents of 13 and 19 August 1398, in which he is recorded as a painter living in Padua, employed by Francesco II da Carrara, Lord of Padua, and married to Ricca di Cittadella. No signed or documented works by him have survived. . . . Cennini’s most important work is his practical treatise on the art of painting, Il libro dell’arte. It was written c. 1390 and is the earliest such treatise in Italian. It is thought to have been composed in Padua, as it contains many Venetian terms and was dedicated to St Antony of Padua (among others). The original manuscript does not survive, but three copies exist. . . . The treatise constitutes a fundamental source for the knowledge of early Italian painting techniques. Cennini described the complex stages of making a panel painting, from the initial preparation of the ground to the final stages of varnishing. . . . Although Cennini wrote his treatise in the tradition of such earlier medieval works as Theophilus’s De diversis artibus and Johannes Alcherius’s collection of recipes, his approach was different. He stressed the need to master practical skills but also encouraged the cultivation of the artist’s own unique style. In this, the treatise is a precursor of the Renaissance preoccupation with the nature of artistic creation. . . . Cennini’s treatise is not only of great historical value but continues to be of practical use. Its publication in the 19th century stimulated a renewed interest in tempera painting among such artists as the Birmingham painter Joseph Southall (1861–1944). The treatise is also an invaluable reference work for conservators and restorers.

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Cesare da Sesto

b Sesto Calende, 1477; d Milan, 27 July 1523).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He was one of the most significant artists to emerge from Leonardo’s circle in Milan, and his travels south of Rome helped to spread the ideas of the High Renaissance to painters in Naples and Sicily. As early as 1506 Cesare may have been in Rome, where he entered into a long working relationship with Baldassare Peruzzi.

Andrea Bayer

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One of the three theological virtues in Christian teaching; the others are faith and hope. These are complemented by the four cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.


(b Arpinum [now Arpino, nr Frosinone], 3 Jan 106 BC; d Formiae [now Formia, Campagna], 7 Dec 43 BC).

Roman orator, statesman, philosopher and patron. His reverence for the past was reflected in both his public and private life. Having studied in Greece and apparently read at least one treatise on Greek art (see Brutus xviii.70), he was familiar with the work of the greatest Greek artists and alluded to Myron, Polykleitos, Pheidias, Lysippos, Apelles and to Greek art in general throughout his writings.

Valerie Hutchinson Pennanen

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Cima da Conegliano

Cima da Conegliano(, Giovanni Battista)

(b Conegliano, nr Treviso, ?1459–60; d Conegliano or Venice, Sept 1517 or 1518).

Italian painter. He belonged to the generation between Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione and was one of the leading painters of early Renaissance Venice. His major works, several of which are signed, are almost all church altarpieces, usually depicting the Virgin and Child enthroned with saints; he also produced a large number of smaller half-length Madonnas. His autograph paintings are executed with great sensitivity and consummate craftsmanship. Fundamental to his artistic formation was the style that Bellini had evolved by the 1470s and 1480s; other important influences were Antonello da Messina and Alvise Vivarini. Although Cima was always capable of modest innovation, his style did not undergo any radical alteration during a career of some 30 years.

Peter Humfrey

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[Cenni (Benciviene) di Pepo]

(b ?c. 1240; fl 1272; d Pisa, before 14 July 1302).

Italian painter and mosaicist. His nickname means either ‘bull-head’ or possibly ‘one who crushes the views of others’ (It. cimare: ‘top, shear, blunt’), an interpretation matching the tradition in commentaries on Dante that he was not merely proud of his work but contemptuous of criticism. Filippo Villani and Vasari assigned him the name Giovanni, but this has no historical foundation. He may be considered the most dramatic of those artists influenced by contemporary Byzantine painting through which antique qualities were introduced into Italian work in the late 13th century. His interest in Classical Roman drapery techniques and in the spatial and dramatic achievements of such contemporary sculptors as Nicola Pisano, however, distinguishes him from other leading members of this movement. As a result of his influence on such younger artists as Duccio and Giotto, the forceful qualities of his work and its openness to a wide range of sources, Cimabue appears to have had a direct personal influence on the subsequent course of Florentine, Tuscan and possibly Roman painting.

Robert Gibbs

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Cione, Andrea di

[Orcagna; Orgagna; Arcagnuolo]

(b Florence, 1315–20; d Florence, 1368).

Painter, sculptor and architect, thought to have also been active as a poet. He was trained as a painter and referred to himself as ‘pictor’ on the tabernacle in Orsanmichele (see below). Details of his training are not known, but his first surviving works reveal various influences, especially of Maso di Banco and Taddeo Gaddi.

G. Kreytenberg

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Cione, Jacopo di


(b Florence, 1320–30; d Florence, after 2 May 1398, before 1400).

Painter, brother of Andrea di Cione, Nardo di Cione and Matteo di Cione. . . . In 1366–7 he was to decorate the vault of a large chamber in the guildhall of the judges and notaries (destr.), Florence. In the same period Jacopo probably created the altarpiece with the Crucifixion (1366–8; London, N.G.), although the execution of the outer groups of figures and the mounted groups was left to Simone, a collaborator. As a result of his brother Andrea’s illness, Jacopo took over some of his commissions. The painting of the Virgin (destr.) in the audience chamber of the capitani of the confraternity of Orsanmichele was begun by Andrea, and on 9 June 1368 Jacopo guaranteed to complete it. In 1368 Jacopo also received the commission that had originally been awarded to Andrea for the altarpiece of St Matthew (Florence, Uffizi) for a pier altar in Orsanmichele. The work is characterized by a predominance of flat surfaces and gold ground and lacks any illusion of corporeal, spatial reality.

G. Kreytenberg

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Cione, Nardo di

(b Florence, c. 1320; d Florence, after 21 May 1365, before 16 May 1366).

Painter, brother of Andrea di Cione. A number of Florentine documents survive concerning Nardo’s membership of the painters’ guild; other documents mention his changing place of residence in the city, and various commissioned works. . . . Nardo emerges as an artist with a style of his own, a pronounced lyrical vein, a feeling for poetic values, strong human sympathies and great sensitivity to colour as a means of subtle differentiation and soft modelling.

G. Kreytenberg

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Shaped like a round shield, from the Latin word for that type of shield.

Colonna, Vittoria

Marchesa di Pescara

(b ?Marino, ?1490; d Rome, Feb 1547).

Italian writer. She was the granddaughter of Federigo II da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and her accomplishments suggest that she received a strong humanist education. In 1509 she married Ferrante Francesco d’Avalos, the Marchese di Pescara, a soldier in the service of Emperor Charles V. Her husband died, disgraced, in 1525, suspected of plotting against the Emperor. After his death, Vittoria wrote sonnets to commemorate him and probably to vindicate his name. She continued to write poetry and was praised by Pietro Bembo and Baldassare Castiglione for her contribution to vernacular literature. From the 1520s she was involved with Catholic reformers, including Cardinal Reginald Pole (1500–58), whose beliefs emphasizing justification through faith and direct personal communion informed her spiritual sonnets. In Rome in the late 1530s the Marchesa became a close friend of Michelangelo and introduced him to reformist circles.

Marjorie A. Och

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Compagnia de’ Magi

The lay confraternity (a religious organization of lay persons) in Florence that produced the Festival of the Magi on January 6 (Feast of the Epiphany), which was the most lavish in the city for most of the fifteenth century. The company, which also carried out other charitable works, was a special interest of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

Condivi, Ascanio

(b Ripatransone, nr Ascoli Piceno, 1525; d nr Ripatransone, 10 Dec 1574).

Italian painter and writer. His work, unanimously considered mediocre, is now known through a few surviving religious paintings. He is known principally for his biography of Michelangelo. He moved to Rome c. 1545, where he established contact with Michelangelo and, in the early 1550s, wrote his Vita di Michelagnolo Buonarroti (1553). He probably wrote it directly under Michelangelo’s influence. Everyday details abound, and Condivi’s friendship with Michelangelo is stressed in order to contest certain aspects of Vasari’s biography (1550) and to defend Michelangelo from hostile allegations of his indifference to teaching, his arrogance, professional jealousy, avarice and homosexuality.

François Quiviger

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A mercenary soldier whose armies and soldiers were available for hire. Many, like Federigo da Montefeltro and Sigismondo Malatesta, were talented military strategists.


Term used in modern writing about art for the posture of a sculpted figure standing at rest with weight shifted on to one leg. Polykleitos’ Doryphoros (c. 440 BC; copy, Minneapolis, MN, Inst. A.) is an early example of this posture, which displays the human body as a self-contained static system, in balance in the pose itself but visibly arrested and therefore implying past and future movement. Contrapposto, like acanthus ornament and wet drapery, became a signature of the Greek Classical style and its influence. The formula appears in innumerable Greek and Roman figures as well as in Far Eastern art and in medieval ‘renascences’, finally to be revived and developed as part of the Neo-classicism of the Italian Renaissance.

David Summers

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(b Correggio, ?1489; d Correggio, 5 March 1534). Italian painter and draughtsman. Apart from his Venetian contemporaries, he was the most important northern Italian painter of the first half of the 16th century. His best-known works are the illusionistic frescoes in the domes of S Giovanni Evangelista and the cathedral in Parma, where he worked from 1520 to 1530. The combination of technical virtuosity and dramatic excitement in these works ensured their importance for later generations of artists. His altarpieces of the same period are equally original and ally intimacy of feeling with an ecstatic quality that seems to anticipate the Baroque. In his paintings of mythological subjects, especially those executed after his return to Correggio around 1530, he created images whose sensuality and abandon have been seen as foreshadowing the Rococo

David Ekserdjian

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Cossa, Francesco del

(b Ferrara, c. 1435; d Bologna, 1476–7). Italian painter. Together with Cosimo Tura and Ercole de’ Roberti, he was one of the most important painters working in Ferrara and Bologna in the second half of the 15th century. With them he shared an expressive use of line and solidity of form, but he also had a gift for decorative and anecdotal scenes, most evident in the frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara.

Kristen Lippincott

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Costa, Lorenzo

(b Ferrara, c. 1460; d Mantua, 5 March 1535).

He was the son of a painter, Giovanni Battista (?)Costa, and he received his early training in the studio of Ercole de’ Roberti in Ferrara. Probably in the early 1480s he moved to Bologna, where he became the favoured artist of Giovanni II Bentivoglio. Major commissions for Bolognese churches suggest that at one time he was the most sought-after artist in Bologna.

Maria Cristina Chiusa

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Council of Trent

The nineteenth ecumenical council of the Catholic church, which convened between 1545 and 1563 to enact sweeping reforms to meet the challenge of the Protestant Reformation.

Crivelli, Vittore


(b Venice, 1444–9; d Fermo, after 10 Nov 1501).

Brother of Carlo Crivelli. Like Carlo, Vittore always signed himself as a Venetian. He followed his brother to Zara, where he is documented from 1465. He probably spent some time in Carlo’s workshop, although there is only one surviving collaborative work, a polyptych for the church of S Martino at Montesanmartino (in situ). . . . Vittore’s last dated work, a Virgin and Child (1501; Paris, Louvre), indicates how little his style changed from works dated 20 years earlier. His oeuvre, which is variable in quality, may be seen at its best in the early polyptych painted for S Francesco in Fermo, now dismembered (Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.). The high quality of this work was recognized during his lifetime, since a contract of 1491 cites it as an exemplar.

Thomas Tolley

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Originally a goddess of Phrygia in Asia Minor whose cult spread widely across the Roman empire, where she was also known as Magna Mater or Great Mother and celebrated with orgiastic rites.

Daddi, Bernardo

Daddi [di Daddo], Bernardo

(fl c. 1320–48).

Italian painter. He was one of the most important Florentine painters of the first half of the 14th century. According to most critical studies Daddi was a pupil of Giotto and was certainly closely associated with Giotto’s workshop, but he was also open to other influences, including the so-called miniaturist tendency, represented in Florence by the St Cecilia Master and the Master of the St George Codex, which contributed to his sweet, lyrical style. He excelled in small-scale work and made an important contribution to the development of the portable altarpiece, which subsequently became a very popular format.

Enrica Neri Lusanna

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Daniele da Volterra

[Ricciarelli, Daniele]

(b Volterra, 1509; d Rome, 4 April 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.

Paul Barolsky

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Darius III was the last Achaemenid king of ancient Persian, defeated by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. His forebear, Darius I, the Great, led the Persian invasion of Greece in the fifth century, which was halted by the Greek victory at Marathon in 490 BC.

Descho da parto

Italian medieval wooden birth tray. Both deschi da parto and the related maiolica accouchement services (vasi puerperali) were used for carrying gifts to a woman who had given birth. The tray was usually painted with mythological or domestic scenes, and sometimes with heraldic decoration. The finest surviving descho da parto is The Triumph of Fame (New York, Met.), which was commissioned by Piero de’ Medici and Lucrezia Tornabuoni to commemorate the birth of Lorenzo, their first son, and painted by Scheggia, the younger brother of Masaccio.

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Desiderio da Settignano

(b Settignano, nr Florence, 1429–32; d Florence, bur 16 Jan 1464). Italian sculptor. His career lasted only about 12 years, but during that time he produced some of the most delicate and intimate sculptural works of mid-15th-century Florence. There are problems of dating and attribution even with his partially documented works, and records survive of several unidentifiable commissions; consequently, it is difficult to chart the course of his stylistic development, and the reliefs and portrait busts attributed to him are grouped around two works: the tomb of Carlo Marsuppini (Florence, Santa Croce) and the sacrament tabernacle (Florence, S Lorenzo).

Shelley E. Zuraw

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Literally, the right, the position of honor. When looking at a painting (or a pair of them), the dexter is the subject or the painting we see on the left. Imagine that the two persons in a portrait pair are conceived as if flanking a more important personage in the center—the Madonna, for example. The person on the Madonna’s right is the one we see on the left.


(b Dalmatia, 22 Dec AD ?244; reg AD 284–305; d ?3 Dec AD 311). Roman emperor and patron. In order to strengthen Imperial control at a time of extreme danger to the Roman world, Diocletian created the Tetrarchy in AD 293, a four-man system under which two Caesars were appointed: one served under Diocletian, the Augustus in the East, the other under Maximian, the Augustus in the West. The whole was held together only by the personality and authority of Diocletian himself, so that by the time of his death the Empire was once again beset by civil wars; his division of the Empire, however, and many of his administrative reforms lasted for much longer.

Kim Richardson

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Disegno e colore

Controversy that developed in Italy in the 16th century over the relative merits of design or drawing (It. disegno) and colour (colore). It was fundamentally a debate over whether the value of a painting lay in the idea originating in the artist’s mind (the invention), which was explored through drawings made prior to the painting’s execution, or in the more lifelike imitation of nature, achieved through colour and the process of painting itself. The disegno e colore debate focused on the rivalry between the two dominant traditions of 16th-century Italian painting, Central Italian and Venetian. Central Italian, especially Florentine, painting depended on drawing and on the use of preparatory studies and cartoons, and the depiction of the human figure was the supreme test of an artist’s skill; Venetian painters built up their pictures directly on the canvas, creating a more spontaneous and expressive art. The difference between the two approaches was formulated in the writings of Giorgio Vasari and Lodovico Dolce.

Claire Pace

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“Duke,” the title used for the elected chief-of-state in Venice and a few other cities.

Dolce, Ludovico

(b Venice, 1508; d Venice, 1568).

Italian writer, critic and dramatist. He belonged to a noble but impoverished Venetian family. Dolce studied in Padua and became a versatile writer, typical of his times, who took his material from the works of others, with adaptations and quotations often bordering on plagiarism. He became an ‘editorial consultant’, working mainly for the Venetian publisher Giolito de’ Ferrari, for whom he edited many contemporary works as well as translations of the classics by Virgil, Horace and Cicero. He wrote five comedies, a few tragedies, poems and treatises and a few biographies of illustrious persons, such as the Emperor Charles V. Most of these were superficial works, written to gain fame and money; but they demonstrate a response to a new interest in public cultural debate.

Franco Bernabei

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Domenico Veneziano

[Domenico di Bartolomeo da Venezia]

(fl 1438; d Florence, bur 15 May 1461). Italian painter. Venetian by birth or descent, he was one of the founders of Renaissance painting in Florence in the first half of the 15th century and the most enigmatic. His training (north Italian or Florentine), the chronology of his few surviving works (his only documented fresco cycle has perished and there is only one major altarpiece) and his relationship to contemporary painters, sculptors and theorists (particularly Alberti) have been debated . . .  Yet, despite these difficulties, Domenico’s altarpiece for S Lucia de’ Magnoli in Florence (the St Lucy altarpiece; main panel in Florence, Uffizi), with its ambitious architectural setting, acutely described figures and its pale colours bathed in a convincing outdoor light, would alone assure him a central place in the history of Renaissance art.

Keith Christiansen

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[Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi]

(b Florence, 1386 or 1387; d Florence, 13 Dec 1466).

Italian sculptor. He was the most imaginative and versatile Florentine sculptor of the early Renaissance, famous for his rendering of human character and for his dramatic narratives. He achieved these ends by studying ancient Roman sculpture and amalgamating its ideas with an acute and sympathetic observation of everyday life. Together with Alberti, Brunelleschi, Masaccio and Uccello, Donatello created the Italian Renaissance style, which he introduced to Rome, Siena and Padua at various stages of his career. He was long-lived and prolific: between 1401 and 1461 there are 400 documentary references to him, some for nearly every year.

Charles Avery

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Dosso Dossi and his less talented younger brother Battista Dossi were the leading painters at the court of Ferrara under Alfonso I d’Este and Ercole II d’Este. Most of their documented work for the court was ephemeral in character and is now lost. It included frescoes for the various ducal residences; designs for tapestries, theatre sets, festival decorations, banners, coins and tableware; the decoration and varnishing of carriages and barges. However, there survives a considerable number of easel paintings attributable to the brothers, either singly or in collaboration; and a relatively high proportion of these are allegorical or mythological in content, in a way that clearly reflects the wider cultural interests of the Ferrarese court. Although responsive to a wide range of outside influences, the most important of which were probably those of Giorgione in Venice and Raphael in Rome, Dosso was an artist of great originality with a strong feeling for effects of light and of glowing colour, and for the poetic quality of landscape.

Peter Humfrey

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Duccio (di Buoninsegna)

(fl 1278; d Siena, before 3 Aug 1319). Italian painter. He was one of the most important painters of the 14th century and like his slightly younger contemporary, Giotto, was a major influence on the course of Italian painting. An innovator, he introduced into Sienese painting new altarpiece designs, a dramatic use of landscape, expressive emotional relationships, extremely complex spatial structures and a subtle interplay of colour. His most important and revolutionary work, the Maestà for Siena Cathedral, was never matched during the 14th century, if at all, and his influence lasted well into the 15th century.

Dillian Gordon

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Dürer, Albrecht

(b Nuremberg, 21 May 1471; d Nuremberg, 6 April 1528). Painter, draughtsman, printmaker and writer. Now considered by many scholars the greatest of all German artists, he not only executed paintings and drawings of the highest quality but also made a major contribution to the development of printmaking, especially engraving, and to the study of anthropometry.

Peter Strieder

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Early Christian and Byzantine art

The art produced by the peoples of the Roman Empire from the early 4th century AD to c. 600—as well as specifically Christian art from c. 250—and that produced in the eastern half of the Empire, centred around Constantinople (Byzantium) to 1453. The Byzantine empire was the institutional setting for much of the medieval art of the eastern Mediterranean, and from the early 4th century AD for the Orthodox Church and so for Early Christian art. Byzantines regarded their empire as having arisen from the happy coincidence of the foundation of the Roman Empire under Augustus with the incarnation of Jesus Christ; for modern historians the empire has a clear end (1453, when the city fell to the Turks) but no clear beginning.

Margaret Mullett

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Equicola, Mario

(b Alvito, nr Frosinone, c. 1470; d Mantua, 1525). Italian writer. He was a courtier and man of letters, first in the service of the Cantelmo family of Sora, then at the Este court in Ferrara, and finally, for many years, at that of the Gonzaga in Mantua. His writings, not numerous but varied in subject, reflect the interests and manners prevailing in the Italian courts during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Marco Collareta

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Este, Alfonso I d’

3rd Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio

(b Ferrara, 21 July 1476; reg 1505–34; d Ferrara, 31 Oct 1534). Son of Ercole I d’Este. In 1502 he married Lucrezia Borgia and became a ruler of notable military and diplomatic ability. His chief claim to fame as patron was his employment of the poet Lodovico Ariosto, but he also patronized some of the outstanding artists of his day. His most important artistic commissions involved the decoration of his rooms in the so-called Via Coperta, the block linking the Palazzo del Corte (now Palazzo Comunale) with the Castello Estense in Ferrara, which he enlarged.

Charles Hope

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Este, Baldassare d’

[Baldassare da Reggio]

(b Reggio Emilia, bapt 20 June 1432; d after 29 Jan 1506).

Italian painter and medallist. He was brought up as the adopted son of a certain Giovanni Bonayti, but a document of 1489 records him as the (illegitimate) son of Niccolò III d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara. In most documents, however, he is called ‘Baldassare da Reggio’. Baldassare is first recorded as a painter in a document of 16 January 1461 from the Visconti Sforza ducal registers in Milan, in which he is given permission to travel for two years. This suggests that he had been working for the Dukes of Milan for some time.

Kristen Lippincott

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Este, Borso d’

1st Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio

(b Ferrara, 1413; reg 1450–71; d Ferrara, 20 Aug 1471).

Son of Niccolò III d’Este. He held many important mercenary military commands from 1430 to 1450. His art partronage was strategic, pragmatic, centralizing and intimate. Unlike his brother Lionello d’Este, he had only a rudimentary education and little empathy with the thought and literature of the ancient world. His main interest was the development of the Ferrarese state, and his control of the terms in which he wished to be seen by contemporaries and by posterity was absolute. Artists and scholars to him were functionaries, concerned with propaganda and entertainment, undeserving of special consideration, and arts and letters were tools of propaganda, which, shrewdly manipulated, would produce his image as a powerful, just, pious and magnanimous ruler. Borso returned to Ferrara in 1445 to assist Lionello in the administration of the Este territories. In 1452 he was invested as Duke of Modena and Reggio by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III.

Gordon Marshall Beamish

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Este, Ercole I d’

Marchese of Este, 2nd Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio

(b Ferrara, 26 Oct 1431; reg 1471–1505; d Ferrara, 25 Jan 1505).

Son of Niccolò III d’Este. From 1445 to 1463 he served as Lieutenant-General under three successive rulers of Naples: Alfonso, Ferdinand and John of Anjou. Borso d’Este recalled him to Ferrara to assist in governing the Este territories and made him ruler of Modena. He was a shrewd and effective statesman, and his experience of the Neapolitan court had influenced his vision of his role and power. He was also compelled by virtue of his position to maintain a grand public image. To this end he held lavish parties and ceremonies and was a generous patron—of the theatre, of literature, music (Josquin Desprez wrote two masses for him), and of the visual arts.

Gordon Marshall Beamish

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Este, Isabella d’

Marchesa of Mantua

(b Ferrara, 18 May 1474; d Mantua, 13 Feb 1539).

Daughter of Ercole I d’Este. She was brought up in the cultivated atmosphere of her parents’ court at Ferrara, where she studied with tutors, including the humanist scholars Giovanni Battista Guarino and Mario Equicola. Her intelligence was particularly noted by the envoys sent to assess her by Francesco II Gonzaga, Marchese of Mantua, whom she married in 1490, when she was 16. Her private quarters in Mantua were in the tower of the Castello di S Giorgio, part of the complex of buildings which make up the Ducal Palace. The apartment included her first studiolo and the cave-like grotta beneath, which housed her collection of antiquities. Her fame as a patron is due to the decorations she commissioned for her studiolo, a set of paintings of Classical and allegorical subjects, rather than the religious works associated with other female patrons.

Clifford M. Brown

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Este, Lionello d’

13th Marchese of Ferrara

(b Ferrara, 21 Sept 1407; reg 1441–50; d Ferrara, 1 Oct 1450). Son of Niccolò III d’Este. During his brief rule he used the revenue from family properties and taxes to give lavish support to art and scholarship. His interest, which had developed under the influence of the humanist Guarino da Verona, who came to Ferrara in 1429, and the condottiere Braccio Fortebraccio (1368–1424), was genuine and discriminating. He established Ferrara as a virtually unrivalled centre for humanism. . . . The Marchese appears from this to have favoured poetry and drama above the other arts.

Gordon Marshall Beamish

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Este, Niccolò III d’

12th Marchese of Ferrara

(b Ferrara, 1383; reg 1393–1441; d Milan, 26 Dec 1441).

Nephew of Niccolò II d’Este. He became ruler before his tenth birthday, and over the years he added Modena, Rovigo, Reggio and other smaller cities to the Este territorial holdings. Politically astute and praised for his commitment to learning, he could also be cruel and implacable. He made distant pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Vienne (south of Lyon) and Loreto; when at SS Annunziata in Florence, he gave (1435) a large wax relief that represented him on horseback. In 1429 he invited the humanist Guarino da Verona to teach at the University of Ferrara, bringing fame to that institution.

Patrick M. de Winter

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Eusebius was baptized and ordained in the city of Cesarea in Palestine. He became bishop there in about AD 313. Best known for his Ecclesiastical History, he had earlier produced an outline of world history (the Chronicle) presented country by country and year by year, from the earliest times to his own day. (Jerome’s Latin translation of Eusebius’s lost Greek original preserves and extends the second, tabular part.) Both of Eusebius’s works draw on earlier sources, preserving fragments of older histories otherwise lost. A favorite of Constantine, Eusebius also produced a panegyric life of the emperor.


[Lat.: ‘by reason of a vow’]. Term for a panel painting, usually small, or, more rarely, a statue, donated as a token of remembrance, entreaty or thanks by individual believers or communities and hung at sites of pilgrimage or holy places. In the Latin and Greek churches certain written formulae—ex voto or its equivalent, hyper euchēs—recur repeatedly on votive panels, on votive gifts of every kind and in entries in books of miracles. (Other wordings, often reduced to initials, include Votum feci, gratiam accepi in Italy and Spain and Milagre que fez in Portugal.)

Lenz Kriss-Rettenbeck

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Facio, Bartolomeo

Facio [Fazio], Bartolomeo

(b La Spezia, nr Genoa, before 1410; d Naples, Nov 1457).

Italian humanist and writer. From a family of Ligurian notaries, he received his early education at Verona with Guarino Guarini (i) in the early 1420s and at the end of the decade studied Greek at Florence. After holding various minor positions in Genoa and Lucca, he was appointed official Genoese envoy to Naples in 1443 and 1444, entering the service of King Alfonso of Naples the following year. At Naples, where he remained for the rest of his life, he obtained the highly paid position of Royal Historiographer and served as tutor to Prince Ferrante.

Jill Kraye

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Farnese, Alessandro


(b Valentano, nr Viterbo, 7 Oct 1520; d 2 March 1589). Son of Pier Luigi Farnese. He was the most important private patron of mid-16th century Rome. He entered the Church very young and was made a cardinal at the age of 14 by his grandfather, Pope Paul III, although he was not ordained as a priest until 1564. In 1535 he was made Vice-Chancellor of the Church for life and was showered with lucrative benefices. Even after the death of Paul III in 1549, he remained one of Rome’s most powerful men, and his enormous wealth enabled him to commission an immense number of artistic projects, including the Villa Farnese at Caprarola and the church of Il Gesù in Rome.

Clare Robertson

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Farnese, Ranuccio I


(b Rome, 11 Aug 1530; d Parma, 28 Oct 1565). Son of Pier Luigi Farnese. Like his elder brother, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, he entered the Church at an early age and was made Prior of the Knights of Malta and Archbishop of Naples before becoming a cardinal in 1545. The magnificence of Alessandro’s artistic patronage has somewhat overshadowed the achievements of the short-lived Ranuccio. Their patronage was, moreover, intertwined since they frequently commissioned work from the same artists, and after Ranuccio’s death Alessandro took over several of his ecclesiastical commissions.

Clare Robertson

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Ficino, Marsilio

(b Figline Valdarno, nr Florence, 19 Oct 1433; d Florence, 1499). Italian philosopher and writer. After studying the humanistic disciplines, medicine and philosophy in Florence, he embarked on the study of Platonism, sponsored by Cosimo de’ Medici and later Lorenzo. He translated the complete works of Plato into Latin (published 1484) and also wrote elaborate commentaries on some of the dialogues. His interpretation of Plato was Neo-Platonic, heavily based on Plotinus, whose Enneads he also translated and commented upon. Always concerned to stress the compatibility of Platonism with Christianity, in 1473 he became a priest. The ‘Platonic Academy’, which he led and inspired, was not a formal institution but rather a circle of friends who shared a common enthusiasm for Platonic philosophy.

Jill Kraye

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[Antonio di Pietro Averlino]

(b c. 1400; d c. 1469).

Italian sculptor, architect and theorist. According to Vasari, he trained in the studio of Lorenzo Ghiberti, but he developed a personal style that was relatively independent of Florentine influence. His Trattato di architettura was the first Renaissance architectural treatise to be written in vernacular Italian and illustrated with drawings and was an important work in the development of Renaissance architectural theory.

A. E. Werdehausen

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Florence: Accademia del Disegno

The Accademia was based on the Compagnia di S Luca (founded 1349), an association of artists of a religious character, and was constituted in 1563 largely at the instigation of Giorgio Vasari. Its numbers increased in 1571 when more artists broke away from the Arte dei Medici e Speziali (founded 13th century) and the masons’ guild (founded 1236). The enlarged institution became the sole officially recognized professional body representing Florentine artists, and the school of art. In its final legal form, established in 1585, it comprised the Compagnia and the Accademia sensu stricto, and it was administered on behalf of the court by a Luogotenente (lieutenant) drawn from a distinguished Florentine family. The Accademia survived in this form until it was replaced in 1784 by the Accademia di Belle Arti, founded by Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Z. Waźbiński

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Florence: Medici Academy

Lorenzo the Magnificent developed lands at the Piazza S Marco (lands that his grandsire Cosimo had begun assembling in the 1450s, as Elam demonstrated) into a retreat with reception rooms as well as pleasant grounds. By 1480 the property was well-enough developed to show the Cardinal of Aragon its library and garden. Accounts by Benedetto Varchi and Vasari state that it was ‘filled with antique and modern sculptures, in such a way that the loggia, the paths and all the rooms were adorned with good antique figures of marble, with paintings . . . from the hands of the best masters’ (Vasari). According to them, young artists and aristocrats, including Michelangelo, were placed in the care of Bertoldo di Giovanni to study the examples of ancient art, forming a ‘school and academy’ that Pevsner defined as working to the ‘first modern method’. As Bertoldo and Lorenzo died in 1491 and 1492 respectively, their involvement in the project would have been brief. The garden’s contents were sacked in 1494 by French troops under Charles VIII.

James David Draper

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Fontana, Lavinia

(b Bologna, bapt 24 Aug 1552; d Rome, 11 Aug 1614). Daughter of Prospero Fontana. She was trained by her father and followed his Mannerist style. Her first recorded works, which date from 1575, were small paintings for private devotion, such as the Holy Family (Dresden, Gemäldegal.). By 1577 she had become established as a portrait painter in Bologna. . . . Her portrait style reflects the formality of Central Italian models as well as the naturalistic tendencies of the North Italian tradition. . . . In naturalism and treatment of detail her portraits are comparable with those of her famous North Italian predecessor, Sofonisba Anguissola (e.g. Portrait of a Woman, 1557; Berlin, Gemäldegal.).

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Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco (Maurizio) di Giorgio Martini (Pollaiolo) [Francesco di Giorgio]

(b Siena, bapt 23 Sept 1439; d Siena, bur 29 Nov 1501).

Italian architect, engineer, painter, illuminator, sculptor, medallist, theorist and writer. He was the most outstanding artistic personality from Siena in the second half of the 15th century. His activities as a diplomat led to his employment at the courts of Naples, Milan and Urbino, as well as in Siena, and while most of his paintings and miniatures date from before 1475, by the 1480s and 1490s he was among the leading architects in Italy. He was particularly renowned for his work as a military architect . . .

Francesco Paolo Fiore, Pietro C. Marani

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[Francesco di Cristofano Giudicis]

(b Florence, 30 Jan 1484; d Florence, 14 Jan 1525). Italian painter. The son of a Milanese linen-weaver, he had completed his apprenticeship, in Florence, by 18 October 1504. His earliest documented works, for example a Pietà (1506) for S Pancrazio, Florence, have not survived. According to Vasari, Franciabigio trained with Mariotto Albertinelli, in whose last work, the signed and dated Crucifixion (1506; Florence, Certosa del Galluzzo, Pin.), he painted the angels (Shearman). In December 1508 the names of Franciabigio and Andre del Sarto, who sometime between autumn 1506 and 1509 set up a joint workshop, were entered in the registration book of the Arte de’ Medici e Speziali, to which painters were required to belong.

Andrew John Martin

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Franciscan Order

Religious order founded in 1209 by St Francis of Assisi. In its broader sense the name encompasses two other organizations that he founded: the Order of Poor Clares and the Tertiaries (founded 1221), lay brothers who were affiliated to the Franciscans but usually lived in the world. The Franciscans were active in Italy from the early 13th century, but they spread rapidly and eventually became a worldwide movement; they were wealthy and influential patrons of art and architecture. . . . The first officially approved Rule of 1221 best expressed the spirit of Francis’s mission. Of primary importance was the obedience he pledged to the papacy; the other brethren were to obey St Francis and his successors. Equally important was the vow to live in obedience, chastity and poverty.

Louise M. Bourdua

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Gentileschi, Artemisia

(b Rome, 8 July 1593; d Naples, after Jan. 1654). Daughter of Orazio Gentileschi. She was among the first Italian female painters whose artistic achievements were praised by her contemporaries. She worked for several European rulers and ran an impressive workshop during her more than 20 years in Naples. She worked in Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples, and spent a brief period in London in the late 1630s. From the beginning she refused to limit herself to portraits, still-lifes and small devotional pictures, the staples of most women artists in the 16th and 17th centuries, but established herself immediately as an ambitious history painter and was also highly sought after as a painter of the female nude.

Ann Sutherland Harris and Judith W. Mann

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A mixture of finely ground plaster and glue applied to wood panels to create a smooth painting surface.

Ghiberti, Lorenzo

Lorenzo (di Cione) Ghiberti

(b Florence, 1378; d Florence, 1 Dec 1455).

Bronze-caster, sculptor, goldsmith, draughtsman, architect and writer. He was the most celebrated bronze-caster and goldsmith in early 15th-century Florence, and his many-sided activity makes him the first great representative of the universal artist of the Renaissance. His richly decorative and elegant art, which reached its most brilliant expression in the Gates of Paradise (Florence, Baptistery), did not break dramatically with the tradition of Late Gothic, yet Ghiberti was undoubtedly one of the great creative personalities of early Renaissance art; no contemporary artist had so deep an influence on the art and sculpture of later times. His art, in which idealism and realism are fused, reflects the discovery of Classical art as truly as the realism of Donatello, and to label Ghiberti a traditionalist is to define the Renaissance art of the early 15th century one-sidedly in terms of increased realism. His competition relief of the Sacrifice of Isaac (1401; Florence, Bargello) determined the development of low relief not only in the 15th century but through the stylistic periods of Mannerism and Baroque, and up until the work of Rodin in the 19th century. Ghiberti’s writings, I commentarii, which include his autobiography, established him as the first modern historian of the fine arts, and bear witness to his ideal of humanistic education and culture. He was wealthier than most of his contemporary artists, and he owned considerable land and securities.

Manfred Wundram

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Ghirlandaio, Domenico

(b Florence, 1448–9; d Florence, 11 Jan 1494).

Painter, mosaicist and possibly goldsmith. He was head of one of the most active workshops in late 15th-century Florence. He developed a style of religious narrative that blended the contemporary with the historical in a way that updated the basic tenets of early Renaissance art. Domenico’s documented material situation—prosperous, land-owning—conflicts with Vasari’s description of him as unconcerned with wealth and business, and he emerges as an enterprising, versatile craftsman, the artisan and bourgeois nature of his life making him perfectly suited to satisfying the tastes and aspirations of his patrons.

Jean K. Cadogan

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[Bologna, Giovanni; Boulogne, Jean]

(b Douai, 1529; d Florence, 1608). Flemish sculptor, active in Italy. Born and trained in Flanders, he travelled to Italy in 1550 to study the masterpieces of Classical and Renaissance sculpture. On his way home, he visited Florence (c. 1552) and was persuaded to settle there under the patronage of the Medici dukes, eventually becoming their court sculptor. As a sculptor, Giambologna grafted an understanding of the formal aspect of Michelangelo’s statuary on to a thorough reappraisal of Greco-Roman sculpture, as it was being daily revealed in new excavations. Particularly influential were the ambitious representations of figures and groups in violent movement, and the technical finesse of late Hellenistic work, most of which had not been available to earlier generations (e.g. the Farnese Bull; Naples, Mus. Archeol. N.; excavated in 1546).

Charles Avery

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Gian Cristoforo Romano

Gian [Giovanni] Cristoforo Romano

(b Rome, c. 1465; d Loreto, 31 May 1512).

Italian sculptor and medallist. He was the son of Isaia da Pisa. Some scholars have followed Vasari in suggesting that he was trained by his father or by Paolo Romano, but Isaia stopped work and Paolo died too early to have had any significant influence on him. It is likely that he studied with Andrea Bregno, who worked in Rome from 1446 to 1506. He may have been in Urbino before 1482, working at the Palazzo Ducale with the Lombard master Ambrogio d’Antonio Barocci. Several doorframes in the palazzo have been attributed to him. He then probably went to the Este court at Ferrara. In 1490 he carved a portrait bust of Beatrice d’Este (Paris, Louvre), the daughter of Ercole I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, for her betrothal to Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. The attribution of this bust derives from a letter of 12 June 1491 from Isabella d’Este, requesting that Ludovico send Gian Cristoforo, who had done Beatrice’s portrait, to Mantua to work for her.

Andrea S. Norris

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[Zorzi da Castelfranco; Zorzon]

(b Castelfranco Veneto, ?1477–8; d Venice, before 7 Nov 1510).

Italian painter. He is generally and justifiably regarded as the founder of Venetian painting of the 16th century. Within a brief career of no more than 15 years he created a radically innovative style based on a novel pictorial technique, which provided the starting-point for the art of Titian, the dominant personality of the 16th century in Venice. Although he apparently enjoyed a certain fame as a painter of external frescoes, Giorgione specialized above all in relatively small-scale pictures, painted for private use in the home. A high proportion of his subjects were drawn from, or inspired by, mythology and secular literature. Landscape played an important role in many of his compositions, and particular attention was often paid to the representation of storms, sunsets and other such natural phenomena. Giorgione was evidently also prized as a painter of portraits, many of them ‘fancy’ portraits, or views in close-up of the kind of poetic or mythological figure also seen in his narratives. His exploitation of a taste for such works within a circle of aesthetically sophisticated Venetian patricians in turn provided the context for the creation of an entirely novel range of pictorial images.

Peter Humfrey, Martin Kemp

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Giotto (di Bondone)

(b ?Vespignano, nr Florence, 1267–75; d Florence, 8 Jan 1337).

Italian painter and designer. In his own time and place he had an unrivalled reputation as the best painter and as an innovator, superior to all his predecessors, and he became the first post-Classical artist whose fame extended beyond his lifetime and usual residence. This was partly the consequence of the rich literary culture of two of the cities where he worked, Padua and Florence. Writing on art in Florence was pioneered by gifted authors and, although not quite art criticism, it involved the comparison of local artists in terms of quality. The most famous single appreciation is found in Dante’s verses (Purgatory xi) of 1315 or earlier. . . . About the same date, Giotto’s unique status was suggested by his inclusion, unprecedented for an artist, in a world chronicle (c. 1312–13) by Riccobaldo Ferrarese. The artist’s name first became synonymous with ‘the best painting’ in a poem by the Florentine Cecco d’Ascoli (d 1327) and, more subtly, in several observations by Petrarch. . . . Giotto’s frescoes in the Arena Chapel (Capella degli Scrovegni) at Padua comprise his earliest work of known date and that on which our idea of his art is chiefly based. . . . Praise of Giotto began by claiming that he was not indebted to his predecessors; his naturalism was contrasted with the Byzantine ‘Greek manner’ of Cimabue, with whom he is traditionally thought to have trained. The notion of a rigid, lifeless Byzantine art, however, has been challenged, and such works as Cimabue’s Assisi Crucifixion fresco have been shown to stress similar dramatic human concerns to those found in Giotto’s work; differences occur in the drawing of the figures, where Byzantine conventions are rejected by Giotto and a more naturalistic style, much influenced by French Gothic sculpture and Classical Roman work, is adopted.

Creighton E. Gilbert

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Giovanni Agostino da Lodi

(fl c. 1467–1524/5).

Italian painter and draughtsman. The identification of a particular hand has resulted in the removal of a group of paintings from those formerly attributed to Boccaccio Boccaccino of Cremona (whence the name ‘Pseudo-Boccaccino’). This resulted from the discovery of the signature of Giovanni Agostino da Lodi on a small panel painting of SS Peter and John (c. 1495; Milan, Brera) and was confirmed by another on a drawing, Allegory of Prudence (sold New York, Sotheby’s, 16 Jan 1986, lot 36). These works suggest that he was an intermediary between the perspective art of Lombardy during the last decade of the 15th century and the Venetian style of Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione and the other painters of their circle.

Marco Tanzi

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Giovanni d’Alemagna

(fl 1441; d 1450).

German painter, active in Italy. He collaborated with Antonio Vivarini on various important religious paintings in Venice and Padua. Although it is difficult to distinguish the two artists’ contributions, Giovanni is associated with the St Jerome (1444; Baltimore, MD, Walters A.G.), which carries the signature ‘Johannes’. This painting suggests that Giovanni’s work was generally flatter and more decorative than Antonio’s more naturalistic style.

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Golden Age

The term Golden Age (Greek: Χρυσόν Γένος Chryson Genos) comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline. By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, humans did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirits living on as “guardians”. Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble.

Gonzaga, Francesco II

4th Marchese of Mantua

(b Mantua, 1466; reg 1484–1519; d Mantua, 29 March 1519).

Son of Federico I Gonzaga. He made his career and reputation as a condottiere and was involved in turbulent political and military events. When Charles VIII, King of France, invaded Italy in 1494, Francesco assisted in the formation of a league to defeat him, and, as commander of the league’s forces, joined battle with Charles at Fornovo on 6 July 1495. He gained the victory but only with heavy loss of life. Despite skilful diplomatic manoeuvring, the security of Mantua was under threat from the French until Francesco’s death. Francesco’s patronage of the arts, which was surpassed by that of his wife, Isabella d’Este, was supported by state revenues and military stipends. It was essentially strategic and pragmatic in nature, a characteristic most strongly expressed in the sculpture, music and the applied arts that Francesco patronized.

Gordon Marshall Beamish

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Gonzaga, Ludovico II

2nd Marchese of Mantua

(b Mantua, 5 June 1412; reg 1444–78; d Goito, 12 June 1478).

Son of Gianfrancesco Gonzaga. He was educated at the school run by Vittorino da Feltre at the Casa Giocosa, Mantua. Da Feltre esteemed his intellectual and political abilities highly, an opinion later shared by Bartolomeo Sacchi (il Platina) who tutored Ludovico’s children and afterwards became the overseer of the Vatican Library. Ludovico was certainly one of the most intellectually gifted of the Gonzaga rulers; he associated with scholars, employed scribes and illuminators—for example Andrea da Lodi (fl 1458–64), who illuminated Boccaccio’s Filocolo for Ludovico (Alexander)—and purchased items for the Gonzaga library. In 1433 he married Barbara of Hohenzollern (1422–81), niece of Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg, with whom he had five sons and five daughters. From 1445 until the Peace of Lodi (1454), Ludovico, an accomplished soldier, was involved in the power struggle between Milan, Venice and Florence.

Rodolfo Signorini

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Term used to denote, since the 15th century, the architecture and, from the 19th, all the visual arts of Europe during a period extending by convention from about 1120 to c. 1400 in central Italy, and until the late 15th century and even well into the 16th in northern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula. The Early Gothic style overlapped chronologically with Romanesque and flourished after the onset of Renaissance art in Italy and elsewhere. . . . The term Gothic is applied to western European painting of the 13th century to the early 15th. Unlike Gothic architecture, it is distinguished more by developments in style and function than in technique, and even in these areas there is considerable national and regional diversity. The applicability of the term to Italian painting is debated, as is its usefulness in accounting for developments in Netherlandish painting from the early 15th century. Contact with Byzantine art was close in the early 13th century, but after c. 1250 survived principally in the Holy Roman Empire and Italy.

Peter Kidson

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Gothic: International Gothic style, c. 1380–c. 1440

The expressions ‘Courant international’ and ‘Gothicité international’ were first employed by Courajod with reference to analogies between French and Italian sculpture of the period around 1400. He intended to demonstrate Franco-Netherlandish impulses for the Renaissance and to establish the existence of a universal late medieval Gothic style. Von Schlosser (1895) also described the formation of a European-wide ‘höfische Kunst’ marked by widespread occurrences of the same subject-matter, notably in the more mobile medium of tapestry. What became known as the International Gothic style (or International Style) was seen as the product of courtly patronage and eclectic, supra-regional, stylistic and iconographic preferences. Many of its formal qualities were held to persist well into the 15th century in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Bohemia and Italy.

Paul Binski

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Gozzoli, Benozzo

(b Florence, c. 1420–22; d Pistoia, 4 Oct 1497).

Italian painter. He was one of the most prolific fresco painters of his generation. Active principally in Tuscany, but also in Umbria and Rome, he had a facility for satisfying current tastes that secured him a steady stream of commissions throughout his career.

Ailsa Turner

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Greco, El

[Theotokopoulos, Domenikos [Dominico; Dominikos; Menegos]]

(b Candia [now Herakleion], Crete, c. 1541; d Toledo, 7 April 1614). Greek painter, designer and engraver, active in Italy and Spain. One of the most original and interesting painters of 16th-century Europe, he transformed the Byzantine style of his early paintings into another, wholly Western manner. He was active in his native Crete, in Venice and Rome, and, during the second half of his life, in Toledo. He was renowned in his lifetime for his originality and extravagance and provides one of the most curious examples of the oscillations of taste in the evaluation of a painter, and of the changes of interpretation to which an artist’s work can be submitted.

Fernando Marías

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Term applied to monochrome painting carried out mostly in shades of grey. The use of the French word can be traced only to 1625, since although grisaille painting was done in preceding centuries, it was not referred to as such. The alternative expression peinture en camaïeu (gris) is also documented only more recently. In the 16th century there are occasional references to ‘dead colour’, but this term is no longer used. At the time of its origin, in the medieval period, grisaille painting was simply called ‘painting in black and white.’

Michaela Krieger

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Guarino da Verona

(b Verona, 1374; d Ferrara, 4 Dec 1460).

Italian humanist and educator. He was one of the great humanist teachers of the 15th century. Having studied in Verona, Padua and Venice, Guarino was among the first Italian scholars to visit Constantinople, where he studied Greek from 1403 to 1408, living part of the time in the household of the neo-Platonic philosopher Manuel Chrysoloras (1350–1415). Laden with Greek manuscripts, Guarino returned to Italy via Rhodes and Chios in 1409, stayed in Venice for a short period, moved to Verona (1409–10) and finally settled in Florence, where he was employed as a Greek tutor (1410–14). Between 1414 and 1419 he was teaching in Venice and in 1419 he opened a private school in Verona. In 1429 Guarino was summoned to Ferrara by Niccolò III d’Este as tutor for his son Leonello. He remained there until his death.

Kristen Lippincott

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Italian city on the south-western slope of Mt Ingino in Umbria . . . Traces of human settlements dating back c. 130,000 years have been found in the area . . . From 1384 Gubbio was ruled by the Montefeltro family, and in that year Antonio Montefeltro set about reinforcing the existing castle (destr.) and the walls. In 1480 the commune presented Federigo II Montefeltro with a new Palazzo Ducale (begun c. 1476) built in the old cathedral square. The medieval Palazzo della Guardia formed its nucleus, the cathedral square became the courtyard, and a water-tank and service areas were located in Corte Vecchia. The design of the courtyard and the interiors recalls the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, supporting the attribution of the plan to Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who is named in a document as having designed at least one room, perhaps the studiolo.

Carmen Ravanelli Guidotti

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Sworn association, typically of merchants, craftsmen or tradesmen. Most guilds were associated with a particular town or city. They flourished in Europe in the medieval period and had considerable social, political, economic and religious power. Additionally, craft guilds often monitored training, standards of production and the welfare of their members. Significant patronage was provided by religious, social and commercial confraternities. Information on the activity of specific guilds is given in this dictionary within the relevant articles on cities and on countries (in the latter, especially under ‘Painting and graphic arts’ or ‘Art education’).

Richard Mackenney

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From the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian (AD 76–138), who was noted for this love and knowledge of Greek art and culture. Copies of Greek works made for Hadrian are believed to be more faithful to their originals than most other Roman copies.

Halcyon days

In Greek myth, Alcyone threw herself into the sea after her drowned husband and both were turned into kingfishers. The stormy seas calmed for two weeks each year so they could nest.


Term invented in the 19th century, most commonly used to designate developments relating to the revival of Classical literature and learning in European culture from roughly 1300 to 1600. . . . So prominent is the ‘revival of antiquity’ in accounts of the transition from medieval to early modern Europe that ‘renaissance’ and ‘humanism’ are often used as overlapping, even interchangeable, concepts. Scholars in the 20th century seeking greater precision have proposed a variety of more highly differentiated definitions of the terms. None commands scholarly consensus. References to ‘the humanist movement’ are likewise as controverted as they are commonplace, and they highlight similarities if not direct linkages among a wide range of figures, elements and activities. Scholars routinely advise that Renaissance humanism is a broad, complex and multi-faceted category embracing numerous chronological, regional, disciplinary and individual variations.

James O. Duke

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Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

(Venice, 1499). Illustrated treatise on Italian art. One of the most mysterious books of the Renaissance, it takes the form of a long romance in two parts, written in a curious Italian language that is rich in rare Latinisms and Graecisms. The first part, strongly allegorical in tone, tells the story of a journey made by Poliphilo to meet Polia. He marries her, and together they go off to worship the statue of Venus, the goddess of love. In the second and shorter part, Polia and Poliphilo recall the story of their love, at first beset by problems but afterwards happy. Although precise references to Treviso and to the 1460s create a sense of actuality, the Hypnerotomachia adopts the literary convention of pure dream. Hence the strange Graecizing title of the work, which means ‘the dream of a battle for love fought by Poliphilo’ (i.e. ‘lover of Polia’).

Marco Collareta

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Wooden panel with a painting, usually in tempera, of a holy person or one of the traditional images of Orthodox Christianity, the religion of the Byzantine empire practised today mainly in Greece and Russia. The word also has a range of related but disparate meanings, from the abstract and philosophical to the purely literal. For example, it is still used in modern Greek to mean an image or picture in the ordinary sense. In antiquity, Platonists and Neo-Platonists held that the material, earthly world reflects, or is the image of, the higher and divine cosmos; the Old Testament provides the theme of man as the icon of God in the temple of the world; and St Paul declared that ‘Christ is the icon of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus the idea of the icon is associated with cosmology and the theology of the Incarnation. In the Early Christian period, disputes over such questions as whether or not God can be known or depicted or the invisible can be seen were part of an intense debate surrounding the acceptability, meaning and function of images of Christ. . . . The theory and belief system of icons was developed by theologians between the 4th and the 9th centuries, though only a few icons survive from then and up to the 12th century. Once established, however, the doctrinal principles never changed, and the study of icons is as much a matter of theology as of art. Subject-matter, form and composition did not deviate from the established dogma on which they depended; indeed, icons have been called theology in colour (Trubetskoy).

Richard Temple

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From Greek, literally, “image smashing.” Iconoclastic movements around the world have been variously motivated, but the controversy in Byzantium during the eighth and ninth centuries was directly centered on the legitimacy of religious images—whether or not they were idolatrous. Iconoclasts are those who destroy images, symbols, or monuments (usually religious, sometimes political). Supporters of icons are iconophiles or iconodoules.

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Iconography and iconology

Terms that refer broadly to the study of subjects and themes in works of art. Iconology, which is based on the results of iconography, is the more wide-ranging and comprehensive. One of the principal concerns of iconography is the discovery of symbolic and allegorical meanings in a work of art.

Willem F. Lash

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In painting, the attempt to make images that seemingly share or extend the three-dimensional space in which the spectator stands. . . . For imagery, the painter may represent a flat surface from which planes jut and recede to a slight depth—the range of effects properly known as trompe l’oeil—or alternatively sky and great distance: in both cases the effects of parallax are minimized. The illusion will be stronger if the image is lit in the same way as its location, and in murals it may also share the same architecture, extended into painted vistas.

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Immaculate Conception

The doctrine, particularly promoted by the Franciscans, that the Virgin was conceived without sin. The concept was debated from the Middle Ages and grew in acceptance during the Renaissance, but it became official dogma only in the mid-nineteenth century.


The central doctrine of Christianity, namely, that God became flesh (the word comes from the Latin carno, meaning flesh), adopting a human nature as Jesus Christ—both God and man. The human and divine are joined in Him in a complete (hypostatic) union, in which the identity of each is preserved, not commingled or diluted.


In the Christian tradition, full or partial release or abatement of temporal punishment for a sin that has already been forgiven. Bestowed for good works or specific prayers, indulgences can be thought to draw on the capital of merit that Jesus’s life and sacrifice created.


Decorative wood technique in which the design or pattern is made by assembling small, shaped pieces of veneer. The term, which derives from 15th-century Italy, is commonly used on the Continent to describe both marquetry, in which the entire surface is veneered, and inlay, in which the pattern pieces are laid into a solid ground.

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Largest city in the Republic of Turkey, occupying the most south-easterly peninsula of Europe and separated from its suburbs in Asia by the Bosphorus. The European part of Istanbul is bisected by a long salt-water inlet, the Golden Horn, on the south bank of which is the oldest section of the city and on the north bank the port of Galata. At the apex of the peninsula the waters of the Golden Horn and Bosporus (Bosphorus) meet and flow into the Sea of Marmara. From the 7th century BC until AD 330 the Greek settlement and Roman city on this site were known as Byzantion. As Constantinople, it was one of the great cities and eventually the capital of the Eastern Roman (subsequently Byzantine) empire from 330 to 1453, except for the years of Latin occupation (1204–61). As Istanbul, it was the capital of the Ottoman empire from 1453 to 1923, although the city continued to be called Constantinople in Western and some official Ottoman sources until the 20th century.

Paul Magdalino

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Term first used in the 15th century to refer to the complex new narrative and allegorical subjects that were then enlarging the repertory of painters. While remaining in use, its meaning became less clearly defined and more generalized in the 16th century. It appeared prominently for the first time in Books II and III of Leon Battista Alberti’s pioneering treatise on painting, De pictura (written 1435), where the author referred to historia as the most ambitious and most difficult category of works a painter can attempt.

Patricia Emison

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Julius II, Pope

[Giuliano della Rovere]

(b Albissola [Savona], 5 Dec 1443; elected 1503; d Rome, 20–21 Feb 1513). Nephew of Pope Sixtus IV. The great patron of the High Renaissance in Rome, he commissioned Donato Bramante to build the new St Peter’s, Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling (see fig.) and Raphael to decorate his private apartments, the stanze (all Rome, Vatican). He was born into a noble but impoverished family, the son of Raffaele della Rovere (d 1477) and Theodora Manerola. Following the example of his uncle Francesco della Rovere, he entered the Franciscan Order, and from 1468 he studied law at Perugia. With the election of Francesco as Pope Sixtus IV in 1471 Giuliano became titular Cardinal of S Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, and Cardinal of SS Apostoli there the following year. He undertook the restoration and embellishment of the two churches. . . . Giuliano was elected pope, as Julius II, on 31 October 1503. During his pontificate the Papal States became dominant in Italy and were again a major European power.

Sabine Eiche

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Knights of Malta

The most important of the military orders, it was known as the Hospitallers of Jerusalem until 1309, then as the Knights of Rhodes until 1522. Its present name dates to 1530, when the Holy Roman emperor Charles V ceded the island of Malta to the knights.

Landi, Neroccio de’

Landi (del Poggio), Neroccio (di Bartolommeo di Benedetto) de’

(b Siena, 1447; d Siena, 1500).

Italian painter and sculptor. Born into the noble Sienese family of Landi del Poggio, he probably learnt painting and sculpture from Lorenzo di Pietro, called il Vecchietta, the teacher of almost all Sienese artists of the second half of the 15th century. Neroccio is first documented in 1461 when he was employed as a garzone (‘shop boy’) with the Cathedral Works of Siena. .Neroccio formed a partnership with the Sienese painter and architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini, with whom he collaborated on numerous cassone paintings and altarpieces. Francesco di Giorgio’s influence on the younger Neroccio was significant, and he was primarily responsible for encouraging Neroccio’s delicate figure style and pastel palette.

Genetta Gardner

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Landino, Cristoforo

(b Florence, 1424; d Borgo alla Collina, nr Pratovecchio, 24 Sept 1498).

Italian humanist and writer. After studying at Volterra, he moved to Florence. In 1458 he began lecturing at the Florentine Studio (the university) on poetry and rhetoric, also working as a secretary in the chancellery after 1483. He became a member of Marsilio Ficino’s circle, whose Neo-Platonic philosophy he applied to the interpretation of poetry.

Jill Kraye

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[Laocoon; Laocoön]

Marble sculptural group that represents an episode recounted in Virgil’s Aeneid (II.199–231), in which a sea monster attacks the Trojan priest Laokoon and his two young sons in front of the walls of Troy. The date and provenance of the work (Rome, Vatican, Cortile Belvedere; h. 2.42 m) is disputed. . . . They regard it as a work of the 1st century AD in the stylistic tradition of the sculptures of Hellenistic Pergamon . . .  For centuries the Laokoon enjoyed enormous fame, equal to that of the Apollo Belvedere (Rome, Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clementino).

Luca Leoncini

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Laurana, Francesco

Laurana [de la Vrana], Francesco

(b Vrana, nr Zara [now Zadar, Croatia]; d Marseille, before 12 March 1502).

Italian sculptor and medallist. He was one of the most significant and most complex sculptors of the 15th century—complex because of his activities within varying cultural circles and his exposure to differing influences. His best works evolved in the workshop tradition in collaboration with other artists. His portrait busts reveal a creative individuality that was seen as particularly fascinating in the late 19th century. Though it is impossible to chart his stylistic development, his later work made in France shows some assimilation of northern realism, which is absent from the work executed in Italy.

Hanno-Walter Kruft

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Lay confraternity

Religious organizations of lay people (members of the church who are not clergy), sometimes organized by profession or guild, who undertook charitable roles and duties like that of tending the dying or condemned.

Leo X, Pope

[Giovanni de’ Medici]

(b Florence, 11 Dec 1475; reg 1513–21; d Rome, 1 Dec 1521).

Son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. His mother was Clarice Orsini. His teachers included the humanists who frequented the Palazzo Medici in Florence, such as Angelo Poliziano, Pico della Mirandola (1463–94) and Marsilio Ficino. By the age of eight he was admitted into minor orders, and by 1486 he was Abbot of Montecassino and Morimondo. He spent three years at the University of Pisa, where he was introduced to the study of theology and canon law by Filippo Decio (1454–1535) among others. In 1492 he was made a cardinal by Pope Innocent VIII.

Marlis von Hessert

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Leonardo da Vinci

(b Anchiano, nr Vinci, 15 April 1452; d Amboise, nr Tours, 2 May 1519).

Italian painter, sculptor, architect, designer, theorist, engineer and scientist. He was the founding father of what is called the High Renaissance style and exercised an enormous influence on contemporary and later artists. His writings on art helped establish the ideals of representation and expression that were to dominate European academies for the next 400 years. The standards he set in figure draughtsmanship, handling of space, depiction of light and shade, representation of landscape, evocation of character and techniques of narrative radically transformed the range of art. A number of his inventions in architecture and in various fields of decoration entered the general currency of 16th-century design. Although he brought relatively few works to completion, and even fewer have survived, Leonardo was responsible for some of the most influential images in the history of art.

Martin Kemp

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LeWitt, Sol

(b Hartford, CT, 9 Sept 1928; d New York, NY, 8 April 2007).
American sculptor, printmaker and draughtsman. . . . From 1955 to 1956 he worked as a graphic designer for the architect I. M. Pei, and he began to make paintings while continuing to work as a graphic designer. He abandoned painting in 1962 and began to make abstract black-and-white reliefs, followed in 1963 by relief constructions with nested enclosures projecting into space, and box- and table-like constructions. He first made serial and modular works, for which he is best known, in 1965. Initially these were wall and floor structures, but in 1968 LeWitt made his first wall drawing in pencil on plaster, at the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. From that time he continued to make structures, wall drawings and drawings on paper as well as prints, which he first made in 1971. LeWitt’s work, like that of other Minimalist and conceptual artists, stressed idea over execution. For each work a system was worked out in advance, which could then be executed by an assistant as easily as by the artist.
Jeremy Lewison

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A place between heaven and hell, where reside the souls of unbaptized infants and Old Testament saints who lived and died before the coming of Christ. The concept is no longer an accepted part of Catholic theology.

Lippi, Filippino

(b Prato, c. 1457; d Florence, 18 April 1504).

Son of Filippo Lippi. He was a painter of altarpieces, cassone panels and frescoes and also an exceptional draughtsman. His success lay in his ability to absorb, without slavishly following, the most popular trends in contemporary painting. He worked in Florence and Rome at a time when patrons were beginning to intermingle personal, religious, social and political ideals in their ambitions for palaces and chapels: with the support of wealthy and erudite patrons, such as Lorenzo de’ Medici (‘il Magnifico’) and Filippo Strozzi, he won important civic and private commissions. Lippi’s most distinguished achievement was the decoration of the Strozzi Chapel in S Maria Novella, Florence.

Marilyn Bradshaw

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Lippi, Filippo

Fra Filippo (di Tommaso) Lippi

(b Florence, c. 1406; d Spoleto, 9 Oct 1469).

He was one of the leading painters in Renaissance Florence in the generation following Masaccio. Influenced by him in his youth, Filippo developed a linear, expressive style, which anticipated the achievements of his pupil Botticelli. Lippi was among the earliest painters indebted to Donatello. His mature works are some of the first Italian paintings to be inspired by the realistic technique (and occasionally by the compositions) of Netherlandish pioneers such as Rogier van der Weyden and Jan van Eyck. Beginning work in the late 1430s, Lippi won several important commissions for large-scale altarpieces, and in his later years he produced two fresco cycles that (as Vasari noted) had a decisive impact on 16th-century cycles. He produced some of the earliest autonomous portrait paintings of the Renaissance, and his smaller-scale Virgin and Child compositions are among the most personal and expressive of that era. Throughout most of his career he was patronized by the powerful Medici family and allied clans.

Eliot W. Rowlands

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Lippo di Benivieni

T051294 (fl Florence, 1296–1320).

Italian painter. The earliest documentary reference to the artist records the apprenticeship of a certain Nerio di Binduccio to him in 1296, which suggests that Lippo was an established figure by this date. He is further recorded as a member of the Arte dei Medici e Speziali in Florence from 1312 to 1320. No documented works by him are known, however, and a reconstruction of his career was first suggested by Offner. The documented dates make Lippo a contemporary of Giotto, but the works attributed to him show a much stronger response to Sienese rather than Florentine painting, particularly that of the followers of Duccio.

Angelo Tartuferi

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(d. AD 17), Roman who wrote a history of Rome in 142 books, from the traditional founding of the city in the mid-eighth century BC to the end of the first century BC.


Italian family of artists. Pietro Lombardo and his sons, Tullio Lombardo and Antonio Lombardo, were dominant figures in Venetian sculpture and architecture from c. 1465 until the death of Tullio in 1532. Because Pietro was born in Carona, the place of origin of the Solari, a famous family of stone-carvers, it is assumed that he was a member of that family. For this reason, members of the Lombardi family are sometimes referred to by the name of Solari, although only Antonio’s sons used the name themselves. Pietro transformed Tuscan Renaissance prototypes into a Venetian style . . .  The typical features of this style, a simple, planar architecture covered with beautifully carved low-relief ornament, were so widely imitated that the designation Lombardesque was coined to characterize it as a Venetian phenomenon of the late 15th century and the early 16th.

Sarah Blake McHam

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Lombardo, Antonio

(b ?c. 1458; d Ferrara, ?1516). Sculptor, son of Pietro Lombardo. Unlike Pietro and his brother Tullio, he practised sculpture exclusively, and he worked in bronze as well as marble. He was trained in his father’s workshop, but his specific role is difficult to discern before the funerary monument to Bishop Zanetti in Treviso Cathedral in the late 1480s. He has been convincingly credited with the carving of the extremely realistic portrait of the deceased bishop and with the eagle and some of the decorative carving on the sarcophagus (Munman, 1977). Much of the decorative carving on the base of the Vendramin tomb (Venice, SS Giovanni e Paolo) has also been attributed to Antonio (Sheard, 1971), as has the relief of the Baptism on the Giovanni Mocenigo monument (Venice, SS Giovanni e Paolo).

Sarah Blake McHam

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Lombardo, Pietro

[Pietro Solari]

(b Carona, Lombardy, c. 1435; d Venice, June 1515). Sculptor and architect. He is first documented in Bologna, where he rented a workshop at S Petronio between July 1462 and May 1463, presumably to work on some commission for the cathedral, perhaps the Rossi Chapel chancel (Beck, 1968). By 1464 he and his family had moved to Padua, where his most important work was the wall tomb of Doge Antonio Roselli in S Antonio (Il Santo), which he designed in early 1464 and finished by 8 April 1467 (Moschetti, 1913, 1914). The Roselli tomb introduced the 15th-century Florentine humanist tomb type into the region and marks the beginning of true Renaissance sculpture in the Veneto

Sarah Blake McHam

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Lombardo, Tullio

(b ?c. 1455; d Venice, 17 Nov 1532). Sculptor and architect, son of Pietro Lombardo. Tullio, together with his brother Antonio, is first mentioned in a letter of 1475 written by Matteo Collaccio that has been traditionally construed to mean that by the mid-1470s the brothers were active in their father’s workshop, contributing to secondary aspects of commissions. Maek-Gérard (1974, 1980), however, argued that Tullio and Antonio were born in Padua in the 1460s, about ten years later than is usually assumed. The later birthdates would explain the difficulty of distinguishing their role in the family workshop before the late 1480s. It would also mean that, since they were born in Padua, both were citizens of the Venetian Empire, which, Maek-Gérard contended, explained their continued receipt of important Venetian commissions in the early 16th century after the Venetian sculptors’ guild had curtailed the rights of non-Venetian sculptors.

Sarah Blake McHam

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Loredan, Leonardo

Doge of Venice

(b 6 Nov 1436; elected 1501; d Venice, 22 June 1521).

Italian ruler and patron. He was born into a noble family of Venetian rulers and patrons. . . . Leonardo Loredan received a humanist education, subsequently making his fortune in Levantine trade while rising through the governing hierarchy of Venice. By 1489 he was an overseer of the building of S Maria dei Miracoli, Venice, by Pietro Lombardo, his only known involvement with the arts until his election as Doge. His long reign was dominated by the wars of the League of Cambrai (1508–17), but despite this the visual arts flourished. Although Venetian rulers were discouraged from commemorating themselves in public monuments or images, Loredan did not observe this tradition.

Paul H. D. Kaplan

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Lorenzo di Credi

[Lorenzo d’Andrea d’Oderigo]

(b Florence, c. 1456; d Florence, 1536). Italian painter and draughtsman. He was a fellow pupil of Leonardo da Vinci and Perugino in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio. In 1482–3 he took over the workshop, and by 1490–1500 he occupied an important position in Florentine art life. He is known primarily for his devotional paintings, although he was also much in demand as a portrait painter and was a sensitive draughtsman.

G. Dalli Regoli

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Lotto, Lorenzo

(b Venice, c. 1480; d Loreto, 1556).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He had a long and often prosperous career as a painter, and, although he travelled widely, his style retained a close affinity with the paintings of his native Venice. He was one of an outstanding generation of painters, including Giorgione, Titian, Palma Vecchio and Pordenone, who appeared in Venice and the Veneto during the first decade of the 16th century. In comparison with his contemporaries, Lotto was a fairly traditional painter in that he worked primarily in the long-established genres of altarpieces, devotional pictures and portraiture. Such paintings were popular in the Venetian provinces and the Marches where Lotto spent much of his career and where he often received more money for his commissions than he could obtain in Venice.

David Oldfield

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Lucian of Samosata

(b Samosata, c. AD 120; d before 180). Author, writing in Greek, of North African birth. Towards the end of a prolific literary career, around 163 AD, he wrote the Imagines (Gr. Eikones), a panegyric couched in dialogue form, which is one of several texts surviving from the age of the Second Sophistic that include extensive descriptions of works of art (see also Philostratos). Also of interest for the history of painting is Lucian’s Zeuxis, a discussion of the idea of innovation, which includes a detailed description of a copy of the Centaur Family, a famous work by the Athenian painter Zeuxis, depicting a family of centaurs in an idyllic landscape. In the Renaissance the popularity of Lucian’s art writings influenced such artists as Sodoma and Botticelli; the latter incorporated many elements from Lucian’s description of Aetion’s Wedding of Alexander the Great and Roxane (327 BC; destr.) in his Mars and Venus (London, N.G.)

Dominic Montserrat

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Luini, Bernardino

(b ?Luini, c. 1480–85; d ?Lugano, before 1 July 1532).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He was one of the generation of Lombard painters active around 1500 who, influenced by Leonardo and Raphael, blended High Renaissance innovations with indigenous Milanese elements to create a Lombard Renaissance style. Luini’s paintings were extremely popular with both collectors and critics from c. 1790 to the end of the 19th century. This widespread popularity, however, had unfortunate consequences: many of his frescoes were detached from their original settings, many of the panel paintings were transferred to canvas and other works were heavily restored. As a result, few survive in a good state.

M. T. Binaghi Olivari

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Luke, St

(b Antioch, 1st century AD; d Greece; fd 18 Oct). Saint, evangelist and patron of artists. One of the Four Evangelists, he was a gentile and a doctor, according to St Paul, who called him ‘our beloved Luke, the physician’ (Colossians 4:14). He wrote the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He earned a reputation as an accurate observer, particularly of women, in his Gospel. His identification as ‘an artist with words’ probably led to the assumption that he also worked as a painter. In Byzantium mention of St Luke the Evangelist painting a portrait of the Virgin arose between the 5th and 6th centuries (Mango, p. 40). The Byzantine author John of Damascus (c. 675–c. 749) identified St Luke as the painter of the Virgin’s portrait in his defence of sacred images. References to Luke as a painter did not appear in Latin literature until the late 12th century. . . . Because Luke was both doctor and artist, the medieval trade system placed physicians, apothecaries and painters in the same guild under his protection, and thus St Luke became the patron of painters. . . . He is frequently portrayed at the easel, painting the Virgin’s portrait. His symbols include an ink pot and pen (the attributes of a writer), the winged ox or calf and the half-length portrait of the Virgin.

Eunice D. Howe

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Machiavelli, Niccolò

Machiavelli (1469–1527) was a Florentine statesman and political philosopher. Despite the cynical picture of power in his book The Prince, which was circulated privately but not published until after his death, Machiavelli held republican views and is regarded today as a pioneer of political science. The Prince was dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici and was probably written, in part, to suggest the usefulness of its author to Florence’s most powerful family.  Machiavelli also wrote poetry, plays, and fiction. Some of his reputation for “machiavellian” intrigue and treachery derives from those other works.

Maiano, Benedetto da

(b Maiano, nr Florence, 1442; d Florence, 24 May 1497).

Sculptor and wood-carver, brother of Giuliano da Maiano. He was technically one of the most accomplished marble-carvers of the 15th century and the foremost sculptor in Florence of the generation following Bernardo Rossellino. Technical difficulties had been largely overcome by his predecessors, however, and he lacked the innovative qualities of Rossellino’s generation. There are close parallels between Benedetto and his contemporary and sometime collaborator Domenico Ghirlandaio in their technical proficiency, powers of narrative expression, excellent portraiture and adherence to traditional techniques.

Gary M. Radke

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Term used strictly to describe tin-glazed earthenware of Italian origin. The name may be derived from the imported lustrewares sent from Valencia via the Balearic island of Maiolica (now Mallorca) to Italy, or may derive from Málaga wares known as opus de Melica.

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Malatesta, Sigismondo Pandolfo

(b Rimini, 1417; d Rimini, 1468). At a very young age he distinguished himself as a condottiere in the service of the papacy, and from the 1430s he was involved in many of the important military engagements on the Italian peninsula. His fortunes began to wane, however, when in 1447 he deserted Alfonso I, King of Naples and Sicily (reg 1416–58). This desertion, his subsequent hostilities toward the Montefeltro and Sforza families, and his disregard in 1459 of peace terms proposed by Pope Pius II severely tarnished his reputation and heralded the eventual decline of his political and military fortunes. Although he continued to provide his services as a condottiere, fighting for Venice against the Turks (1464–5), his enemies had managed to reduce his base of power to Rimini alone by the time of his death.

Roger J. Crum

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Mandylion of Edessa

Term for a miraculous image (untraced) of Christ, believed to date from the 1st century AD. It is one of a number of holy images ‘not made by human hands’ whose origins are obscured in legends of the early Christian East. In the late 6th century the image was first mentioned as a miraculous icon. The fully developed 8th-century version of the legend relates how King Abgar V (reg 4 BC–AD 50) of Edessa (now Urfa in Turkey) commanded a portrait to be made of Christ but received instead a cloth miraculously imprinted with Christ’s features (see [not available online]). The image became known as the Holy Mandylion (Arab. mandil: ‘small cloth’).

Sarah Morgan

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Mantegna, Andrea

(b Isola di Carturo, nr Padua, 1430–31; d Mantua 13 Sept 1506).

Italian painter and printmaker. He occupies a pre-eminent position among Italian artists of the 15th century. The profound enthusiasm for the civilization of ancient Rome that infuses his entire oeuvre was unprecedented in a painter. In addition to its antiquarian content, his art is characterized by brilliant compositional solutions, the bold and innovative use of perspective and foreshortening and a precise and deliberate manner of execution, an aspect that was commented on during his lifetime. He was held in great esteem by his contemporaries for his learning and skill and, significantly, he is the only artist of the period to have left a small corpus of self-portraits . . . His printmaking activity is technically advanced and of great importance, although certain aspects of the execution remain to be clarified. Due to the survival of both the Paduan and Mantuan archives, Mantegna is one of the best-documented artists of the 15th century.

Gabriele Finaldi

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Manutius, Aldus

(b Bassiano, ?1450; d Venice, 6 Feb 1515). Italian printer, publisher, teacher and translator. He studied in Rome and Ferrara and spent some time in Mirandola with Giovanni Pico (1463–94). In 1483 he was tutor to the Pio family. He formed a project to publish Greek texts and in 1489–90 moved to Venice, where soon afterwards he published the Musarum panegyris (1491). His Greek publications formed the core of his activities: he issued c. 30 first editions of literary and philosophical Greek texts including a five-volume Aristotle (1495–8). . . . Manutius established a pre-eminent position in Venetian publishing and in 1495 entered into a formal partnership with Andrea Torresani, his future father-in-law, and Pierfrancesco Barbarigo. His total output has been estimated at 120,000 or more copies. One of his most significant innovations was the production of small-format editions of Classical texts . . .

Laura Suffield

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Margarito d’Arezzo

(fl c. 1250–90).

Italian painter. The only documentary record of Margarito dates from 1262, when he was living in Arezzo. The nature and distribution of his surviving works suggest a thriving practice and a steady demand for his skills throughout Tuscany. Margarito’s fame outside Italy rests partly on Vasari’s account, partly on his easy identifiability among a host of anonymous contemporaries (most of his paintings are signed) and partly on the role imposed on him by 19th-century critics as an epitome of that barbarism into which Italian painting was deemed to have fallen by the late 13th century. Margarito seems to stand rather outside the main line of painting in Tuscany and has at times been dismissed as reactionary or provincial.

John Richards

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[Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai]

(b San Giovanni Val d’Arno, 21 Dec 1401; d Rome, before late June 1428). Italian painter. He is regarded as the founder of Italian Renaissance painting, a view established within a decade of his death. . . . Among the painters of his time, he was the first to organize his compositions according to the system of linear perspective developed by Brunelleschi. He thus transposed into painting the mathematically proportioned spaces and Classical architectural vocabulary of Brunelleschi’s buildings, as well as the realistic anatomical structure, heavy draperies and human grandeur of Donatello’s statues. He was also inspired by the paintings of Giotto and the art of antiquity. Masaccio’s revival of Giotto’s monumentality and concentration on volume was, like the writings by humanists on Florentine history, an affirmation of the greatness and enduring values of the Florentine past.

Hellmut Wohl

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Master of the Osservanza

(fl ?c. 1440–80).

Italian painter. Longhi recognized that two triptychs, formerly attributed to Sassetta, were the work of another hand. The Virgin and Child with SS Jerome and Ambrose (Siena, Osservanza) and the Birth of the Virgin (Asciano, Mus. A. Sacra), formerly in the Collegiata, Asciano, both have a stylistic affinity with Sassetta’s works but, in terms of narrative expression, still belong to the Late Gothic tradition. Longhi observed that a further group of paintings was closely related to these works. This included the predella of the Osservanza Altarpiece (Siena, Pin. N., 216), a predella of St Bartholomew (Siena, Pin. N.), scenes of the Passion (Rome, Pin. Vaticana; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.; Cambridge, MA, Fogg) and the scenes from the Life of St Anthony Abbot (dispersed; e.g. panels in Washington, DC, N.G.A.; New York, Met., see fig.; Wiesbaden, Mus. Wiesbaden) previously also attributed to Sassetta.

Cecilia Alessi

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Matthias Corvinus

King of Hungary

(b Klausenburg [now Cluj-Napoca], 1443; reg 1458–90; d Vienna, 1490).

Hungarian patron and collector. He was the son of Governor John Hunyadi (d 1456) and took over both the political and cultural affairs of Hungary with great energy and determination. The buildings, collections and workshops set up by him testify to his powers of organization and co-ordination. His patronage was concerned with art as an enhancement of his nation’s glory and he also exploited the decorative arts to represent the power of the state through pageants and festivals, delegations and sumptuous gifts. Owing to his patronage, Hungarian art became pre-eminent in the cultural development of central Europe, with the early introduction of Renaissance ideas and styles drawn directly from the great Italian centres, Florence in particular.

Győngyi Tőrők

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Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor

(b Wiener Neustadt, 22 March 1459; reg 1493–1519; d Wels, 12 Jan 1519).

Son of Frederick III. Through his marriage and those of his children and grandchildren, he contributed substantially to the territorial aggrandisement of the Habsburgs in the Netherlands, Spain and eastern Europe. His patronage tended largely to the glorification of the dynasty, notably in portraiture and in the large statues of his family and ancestors he commissioned for his tomb in Innsbruck. His autobiographical literary works reflect his medieval courtly ideals and were illustrated by major contemporary artists. He was also probably the greatest patron of armourers in the late 15th century.

Rosemarie Bergmann

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Piece of metal (or sometimes other material) that is usually coin-like, with an image and/or inscription, usually on both sides. It is generally a commemorative object. Large ancient Roman presentation pieces of bronze, silver and gold, produced between the 2nd and the 5th century AD, are generally called medallions; the term is also somewhat loosely applied to particularly large Renaissance and later medals. Medals are usually discs of gold, silver, copper alloy (bronze or brass) or lead, bearing images. . . . Traditionally, the images included on the obverse a portrait with identifying inscription, and on the reverse a text or some sort of figure or scene associated with the subject of the portrait. . . . The medal’s primary function is to honour, commemorate, glorify, criticize or even satirize its subject through an extended pictorial and verbal message that usually covers both of its surfaces. It is reproduced in varying numbers and distributed, in the manner of a book or print, to what may be a large public.

Stephen K. Scher

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Medici, Alessandro de’

Duke of Florence

(b Florence, ?1511; reg 1531–7; d Florence, 5–6 Jan 1537). Illegitimate son of Clement VII but officially the illegitimate son of Lorenzo de’ Medici. He was not a liberal patron and commissioned little, his patronage guided purely by political motives. . . . In 1532 Alessandro was appointed Duke of Florence; emphasizing his absolute power, he had the council bell removed from the Palazzo della Signoria and reduced to coins and weapons.

Thomas Hirthe

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Medici, Cosimo de’

Cosimo [il vecchio] de’ Medici, Lord of Florence

(b Florence, 27 Sept 1389; d Careggi, 1 Aug 1464).

Son of Giovanni di Averardo de’ Medici. He was the greatest private patron of his time, who, motivated through ambition for his family, and perhaps through a desire to expiate the sin of usury, introduced a new conception of patronage; a humanist, he fully appreciated the propaganda value of architecture and sculpture, and his ambitions rivalled those of the Comune. Primarily an architectural patron, Cosimo favoured Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, but he also gave generous support to Donatello and others. Cosimo increased his father’s trading and banking business and became one of the wealthiest men of his time. He dominated Florence from 1434; yet he himself valued his burgher status and constantly emphasized it, and the artistic tradition associated with him is simple and restrained. He was prior of his guild in 1415 and 1417, accompanied the antipope John XXIII to the Council of Constance and then travelled in Germany and France. He was Florentine ambassador to Milan (1420), Lucca (1423), Bologna (1424) and the court of Pope Martin V in Rome. His long association with Michelozzo began in this period: in the 1420s Michelozzo remodelled Cosimo’s austere villa at Trebbio and the monastery of S Francesco at Bosco ai Frati, both of which were situated in his patron’s native region of the Mugello.

Marlis von Hessert

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Medici, Cosimo I de’

Grand Duke of Tuscany

(b Florence, 11 June 1519; reg 1569–74; d Castello, 21 April 1574).

Nephew of (10) Ottaviano de’ Medici. His mother, Maria Salviati (d 1543), was a granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent; his father, the professional soldier Giovanni delle Bande Nere (1498–1526), was killed when Cosimo was seven. When, in 1537, Lorenzino de’ Medici murdered Alessandro de’ Medici, the tyrannical Duke of Florence, Cosimo was the only available successor. Initially his power was limited, but he became Duke of Florence in 1537, after his victory at the Battle of Montemurlo, and Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569. Cosimo, more powerful than any earlier Medici, strove to create a court whose splendour should rival the proudest European courts and to express the triumphs and ambitions of his dynasty through the architectural magnificence of his palazzi and public works. He cultivated the myth of the great tradition of Medici art patronage, restoring the plundered Palazzo Medici, and reassembling and enriching the Biblioteca Laurenziana, founded by Cosimo il vecchio.  . . . Humanists and poets, such as Vincenzo Borghini, and artists, such as Agnolo Bronzino, Benvenuto Cellini, Pierino da Vinci and Giorgio Vasari, gathered around him and enhanced his glory and power. In 1554 he established the Arazzeria Medicea, and he was joint head, with Michelangelo, of the Accademia del Disegno.

Marlis von Hessert

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Medici, de’

Italian family of merchants, bankers, rulers, patrons and collectors. They dominated the political and cultural life of Florence from the 15th century to the mid-18th. Their name and their coat-of-arms showing five to nine spheres were not derived from medical ancestors, since the family had always been merchants. However, they appropriated this interpretation, making the physicians Cosmas and Damian their patron saints. International trade in wool, silk, metals and spices made them one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Italy.

Marlis von Hessert

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Medici, Eleonora de’

[Eleanora of Toledo], Grand Duchess of Tuscany

(b Naples, 1522; d Pisa, 1562).

First wife of Cosimo I de’ Medici. She was the second daughter of the Viceroy of Naples, Don Pedro di Toledo, Marquis of Francavilla, the Emperor Charles V’s senior lieutenant. In 1539 Cosimo I married her as part of his policy to strengthen his connections with the Emperor. The union appears to have been happy and resulted in 11 children, two of whom eventually succeeded to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany: Francesco I de’ Medici, on Cosimo’s death in 1574, and Ferdinando I de’ Medici in 1587. Spanish by birth, and notably pious, Eleonora retained the influences—and language—of her upbringing throughout her life. Her physical beauty is attested to by a considerable number of portraits by Agnolo Bronzino (e.g. 1546, Florence, Uffizi; 1560, Berlin, Gemäldegal).

Warren Hearnden

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Medici, Francesco I de’

Grand Duke of Tuscany

(b Florence, 25 March 1541; reg 1574–87; d Poggio a Caiano, 19 Oct 1587). Son of Cosimo I de’ Medici and Eleonora de’ Medici. His education included instruction in science and the decorative arts, and these were to remain his abiding interests. Bronzino painted a portrait of Eleonora with Francesco (1549–50; workshop versions, Pisa, Mus. N. S. Matteo; Cincinnati, OH, A. Mus.). He was again painted by Bronzino in 1551 (Florence, Uffizi), the first of a series of quadretti of Cosimo’s children at the same age. The last image of his youth was the idealized portrait by Bronzino’s pupil Alessandro Allori (c. 1559; replica in Chicago, IL, A. Inst.) of Francesco with a miniature of his sister Lucrezia (d 1561).

Nigel Gauk-Roger

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Medici, Lorenzo de’

Lorenzo the Magnificent [Lorenzo de’ Medici; Lorenzo il Magnifico], Lord of Florence

(b Florence, Jan 1449; reg 1469; d Florence, 8 April 1492).

Son of Piero de’ Medici. In 1469 Piero organized a joust to celebrate Lorenzo’s marriage to Clarice Orsini, and in the same year the succession passed, without discord, to Lorenzo. The Pazzi conspiracy (1478) and the following war challenged Medici predominance, yet Lorenzo’s leadership was consolidated by constitutional changes and by his securing peace with the papacy in 1480.

Lorenzo was both ruler and scholar. A distinguished vernacular poet, he was also passionately interested in Classical antiquity and became the centre of a humanist circle of poets, artists and philosophers, which included Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Angelo Poliziano, Botticelli, Bertoldo di Giovanni and Michelangelo. His taste in architecture was formed by Leon Battista Alberti, with whom he had studied antiques in Rome in 1465 and whose treatise he read repeatedly. He showed great interest in the architectural projects of his day; this has stimulated a debate on whether he may have been an amateur architect. Even if Lorenzo was not a practising architect, there is no doubt that Giuliano da Sangallo, whom he saw as able to revive the glories of antiquity, worked in close collaboration with him.

Lorenzo’s interest in antiquity is further underlined by the keenness with which he built up an expensive collection of antiquities, including sculptures, gems, cameos, vases and large-scale marble sculpture. . . . Moreover, he established a sculpture garden at S Marco, where he encouraged Michelangelo to study from the Antique, and before 1492 Michelangelo had carved his Virgin of the Steps and the Battle of the Centaurs (both Florence, Casa Buonarroti). Both Bertoldo and Michelangelo formed part of Lorenzo’s household, and this treatment of artists as the equals of humanist scholars and poets was unprecedented in Republican Florence. It introduced a new type of patronage and was associated with an increasing emphasis on the production of collector’s pieces.

Mary Bonn

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Medici, Piero de’

Piero (di Cosimo) [the Gouty] de’ Medici, Lord of Florence

(b Florence, 1416; reg 1464–9; d Florence, 3 Dec 1469).

Son of Cosimo de’ Medici. Raised in early humanist Florence, he was trained to assume his father’s civic and cultural leadership. His artistic tastes were apparently stimulated less by the aesthetic ideals of Republican Florence, however, than by those manifested in such north Italian centres of patronage as Ferrara and Venice, where the Medici lived in exile in 1433–4. Piero watched over family interests at the Council of Ferrara (1437–9) and responded positively to the style of Este court patronage, which he may have sought to emulate (with the wealth of the Medici bank behind him) in the decorations he commissioned for the new Palazzo Medici in Florence. His aesthetic preferences may be deduced from such commissions, which contrast with the large-scale ecclesiastical projects that his father sponsored: typically they show precise, often minute detailing (as in a bust of Piero by Mino da Fiesole), brilliant and resonating colour and rich surface finish.

Francis Ames-Lewis

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Melozzo da Forlì

[Melozzo degli Ambrogi]

(b Forlì, 8 June 1438; d Forlì, 8 Nov 1494). Italian painter. Melozzo occupied a transitional position between the early and High Renaissance. His contact with Piero della Francesca at the court of Urbino was fundamental to his stylistic development. He rose to prominence in Rome during the papacy of Sixtus IV (reg 1471–84) and later worked for the Pope’s family. Many of his works have been lost or damaged, but he enjoyed a long and illustrious career and was famed for his skill in the use of illusionistic perspective.

Eunice D. Howe

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Michelangelo (Buonarroti) [Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni]

(b Caprese, ?6 March 1475; d Rome, 18 Feb 1564). Italian sculptor, painter, draughtsman and architect. The elaborate exequies held in Florence after Michelangelo’s death celebrated him as the greatest practitioner of the three visual arts of sculpture, painting and architecture and as a respected poet. He is a central figure in the history of art: one of the chief creators of the Roman High Renaissance, and the supreme representative of the Florentine valuation of disegno. As a poet and a student of anatomy, he is often cited as an example of the ‘universal genius’ supposedly typical of the period. His professional career lasted over 70 years, during which he participated in, and often stimulated, great stylistic changes. The characteristic most closely associated with him is terribilità, a term indicative of heroic and awe-inspiring grandeur.

Anthony Hughes

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Michiel, Marcantonio

(b Venice, c. 1484; d Venice, 9 May 1552). Italian writer and collector. He was an important Venetian dilettante and connoisseur whose surviving writings constitute a valuable source of information on 16th-century art patronage in the Veneto. . . . Although Michiel’s writings on artistic matters are significant, most of his work was devoted to current affairs and politics. He regarded himself primarily as a historian and prepared notes for studies of Venetian history and Pisan/Venetian relations. In February 1527 he married Maffea Soranzo (d 1576), a member of a powerful family, and after several attempts to secure public office he was elected to the Venetian senate on 28 September 1527, but his political ambitions were never fully realized.

Helen Geddes

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Minello, Antonio

Antonio (di Giovanni) Minello (de’ Bardi)

(b Padua, c. 1465; d Venice, ?1529). Italian sculptor, son of Giovanni Minello. He worked in a stolid, classicizing style influenced by the Lombardo family of sculptors and architects. Antonio is first recorded working as an assistant to his father on 10 April 1483. . . .  In the early 1520s Minello moved to Venice, where, in 1524, he purchased the contents of the workshop of Lorenzo Bregno. . . .  In 1527 Minello executed a statuette of Mercury (London, V&A) for Marcantonio Michiel.

Thomas Martin

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Montefeltro, Federigo II da

Federigo [Federico] II da Montefeltro, 1st Duke of Urbino

(b Gubbio, 1422; reg 1444–82; d Ferrara, 10 Sept 1482).

He was the illegitimate son of Guidantonio da Montefeltro, Count of Urbino (reg 1404–43). In his youth he spent two years at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, attended the humanist school of Vittorino da Feltre and served as a condottiere from 1437. He became Count of Urbino after the assassination of his half-brother, Oddantonio (reg 1443–4). Federigo’s mastery of warfare was renowned throughout Europe. In 1444 he served the Sforzas of Milan and was later employed by Florence and Naples (1451). He was infrequently engaged after the peace of Lodi (1454), although various city-states retained the promise of his service. In 1469 he headed the alliance of Naples, Milan and Florence against Pope Paul II (reg 1464–71). In 1474, however, he was created Duke of Urbino by Sixtus IV (reg 1471–84) and granted the rights to land in Romagna. He fought for the papacy against Florence in 1479.

Roger J. Crum

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Montorsoli, Giovanni Angelo

(b Montorsoli, nr Florence, ?1507; d Florence, 31 Aug 1563). Italian sculptor and architect. After a three-year apprenticeship with Andrea di Piero Ferrucci, he worked as an assistant in Rome (producing rosettes on the cornices of St Peter’s), Perugia and Volterra. He then went to Florence to work on the New Sacristy (Medici Chapel) and the Biblioteca Laurenziana at S Lorenzo, probably from 1524; the influence of Michelangelo was to prove decisive. Work at S Lorenzo was suspended as a result of the expulsion of the Medici in 1527, and Montorsoli decided to enter a religious order; he was inducted into the Servite Order at SS Annunziata in 1530, taking his vows in 1531. For his monastery church he restored the wax portraits of the Medici family, which had been destroyed in 1527 . . .  In 1532 Michelangelo recommended him to Clement VII to restore antique statues in the Vatican; his restorations of the Laokoon group and the Apollo Belvedere (both Rome, Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clementino) ensured their enduring fame.

Karl Möseneder

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Morone, Domenico

(b Verona, c. 1442; d Verona, c. 1518). Vasari—exceptionally well informed on Veronese artists—asserted that Domenico was taught by students of the Gothic painter Stefano da Verona. His earliest signed work, a fine Virgin and Child dated 29 April 1483 (Berlin, Gemäldegal.), reveals his conversion to Andrea Mantegna’s ideas, partly as filtered through Giovanni Bellini and Francesco Benaglio. His next, the signed and dated Expulsion of the Bonacolsi from Mantua (1494; Mantua, Pal. Ducale), parallels the Venetian panoramic narratives of Gentile Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio and may owe much to Giovanni Bellini’s lost battle paintings for the Doge’s Palace in Venice. Though damaged and repainted (the distant landscape, for example, is new), this spirited narrative remains valuable both for its detailed description of 15th-century Mantua and as the most convincing large-scale Quattrocento battle-piece that survives.

Francis L. Richardson

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In Greek mythology the Muses—their number varied—were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Eventually nine were identified with the arts and associated with specific attributes:

Calliope: epic poetry, tablet and stylus

Clio—history, book roll

Erato: lyric poetry, lyre

Euterpe: music, flute

Melpomene: tragedy, tragic mask

Polymnia: sacred poetry, thoughtful expression

Terpsichore: dance and choral song, lyre or dancing

Thalia: comedy, comic mask

Urania: astronomy, globe

Nanni di Banco

(b Florence, c. 1380–85; d Florence, 1421). Italian sculptor. His father, Antonio di Banco (d 1415), a stone-carver at Florence Cathedral with whom he trained, was married in 1368, which provides a terminus post quem for Nanni’s birth. On 2 February 1405 Nanni matriculated in the Arte di Pietra e Legname, the masons’ guild, presumably to allow him into the cathedral workshops. He is first documented there on 31 December 1407, working with his father on the archivolt sculpture of the Porta della Mandorla.

John T. Paoletti

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Narrative art

Term used to describe art that provides a visual representation of some kind of story, sometimes based on literary work. It is found throughout the world, and it appears not only as an art form in its own right in both two and three dimensions but also as decoration on a variety of objects. Narration, the relating of an event as it unfolds over time, is in principle a difficult task for the visual arts, since a work of art usually lacks an obvious beginning, middle and end, essential features of any story. Nevertheless, since ancient times many works of art have had as their subjects figures or tales from mythology, legend, history, or sacred texts. The artists overcame the inherent limitations of visual narrative by representing stories that the viewer might be expected to know and by providing key scenes to trigger memory.

In the period before 1500, narrative art was characterized by complex forms of relating historical events. Influenced by the medieval visual tradition, Renaissance narrative art developed a very sophisticated iconographic vocabulary based on biblical stories. Even illiterate Christians understood the stories the artists’ visual symbols represented.

Dominique Collon, Randy R. Becker

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Term that has been used with many different meanings. It is predominantly applied to painting, and in its broadest sense it describes any art depicting actual, rather than religious and imaginary, subject-matter. It implies a style in which the artist tries to observe and then faithfully record the subject before him without deliberate idealization or stylization.

Gerald Needham

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Neri di Bicci

(b Florence, 1418; d Florence, 4 Jan 1492). Italian painter, son of Bicci di Lorenzo. He was the last artist member of the family, whose workshop can be traced back to his grandfather Lorenzo di Bicci. Under Neri’s direction, the workshop was extremely successful and catered to a wide variety of patrons. The details of its activity, including the names of the many pupils and assistants that passed through it, are recorded between 1453 and 1475 in the workshop diary, the Ricordanze, the most extensive surviving document relating to a 15th-century painter.

Bruno Santi

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Niccoli, Niccolò

(b Florence, c. 1364; d Florence, 3 Feb 1437).

Italian humanist and calligrapher. The son of a wealthy wool merchant, he abandoned trade for a scholarly pursuit of the values and artefacts of the ancient world as a touchstone of the present. He attained eminence as the catalyst for and guardian of Florentine letters, while leaving no writings of his own. With others he was responsible for the introduction in Florence of the teaching of Greek, and he stimulated such friends as Leonardo Bruni and Ambrogio Traversari to do what he could not do himself, that is, to spread Greek learning in stylish translations. He was a central figure in the organized search for Classical texts.

M. C. Davies

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Nicholas V, Pope

[Parentucelli, Tommaso]

(b Sarzana, nr La Spezia, 15 Nov 1397; elected 1447; d Rome, 24 March 1455). Italian pope and patron. He was the first humanist pope of the Renaissance and the first to conceive of Rome as the cultural capital of Europe, putting the authority and wealth of the papacy at the service of a long-term plan for its architectural renovation. According to the biography composed by Gianozzo Manetti (1396–1459), he would have liked to have spent all of the papal wealth on books and buildings. In this spirit, he began the collection that became the Vatican Library and devised a coherent project for the restoration of Rome, which promoted architecture in the grand manner, subordinating the other arts.

Hellmut Wohl

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Oil painting

Method of painting using pigments dispersed in oil. It is not known how oil painting was first developed, but in Western Europe there are indications of its use from at least the 12th century AD, and it was widely used from the Renaissance. . . . Egg tempera was the main paint medium of the Middle Ages before the advent of oil paint. The use of drying oils as a varnish for paintings was described by the medical writerAetius in the 6th century AD, but the earliest reference to mixing oil with pigment to make paint was not until the 12th century, in the manual De diversis artibus (c. 1110–40) by Theophilus. . . . In the northern countries, particularly the Netherlands, the transparency of oil paint was fully exploited from the outset, and a technique was developed in which layers of glazes were built up from a detailed underdrawing, like sheets of coloured glass. . . . The tempera tradition was, however, well established in southern Europe, thus the introduction of oil paint was a gradual process, with many painters continuing to work in egg and animal size during the 15th century.

Catherine Hassall

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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.

Jacqueline Colliss Harvey


(b Sulmo [now Sulmona, Abruzzi], 20 March 43 BC; d Tomis [now Constanţa, Romania], AD 17–18).

Roman poet. His work is an important source for mythological subjects in Western visual art. He studied in Rome and held minor judicial posts there before becoming a poet. For two decades he was the leading poet in Rome, but in AD 8, for unknown reasons, the Emperor Augustus banished him to Tomis on the Black Sea, where he remained. The principal works of his maturity are the Metamorphoses, stories from mythology related in a historical frame, and the Fasti, a poetical treatise on the Roman calendar.

Willem F. Lash

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Italian university city on the River Bacchiglione, the provincial capital of Veneto . . .  Padua was conquered by the Venetians in 1405, after a long war that practically halved the population. In the 15th century Padua was allowed to retain its old administrative practices. At the beginning of the 16th century, however, Venice imposed its rule more firmly after recapturing territories lost to the League of Cambrai (a coalition of major European and Italian states). . . . The artistic life of Padua was at its most vital and its artistic products most influential during the later Middle Ages and the early Renaissance period. The city is particularly important for its painting.

Donata Battilotti, John Richards

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An image thought to provide protection for a city. The word derives from Pallas, one of the epithets of the goddess Athena, and first referred to a statue of Athena in Troy.

Palma Vecchio

(Jacopo) [Giacomo] Palma (il) Vecchio

(b Serina, nr Bergamo, ?1479–80; d Venice, 28 July 1528). His birthdate is calculated on Vasari’s testimony (1550) that he died aged 48. By March 1510 he was in Venice, where he spent his working life. The stylistic evidence of his earliest works suggests that he was apprenticed to fellow Bergamasque artist Andrea Previtali, who had studied under Giovanni Bellini. . . . Palma Vecchio’s oeuvre reflects the change from an early to a High Renaissance conception of the human figure in secular and religious art. He specialized in certain themes that became established in the repertory of genres of the Venetian school in the generation after him. The principal of these were the wide-format sacra conversazione—that is, paintings of the Virgin and saints in a rural setting, for private piety but not devotional use—and half-length paintings of idealized women with some erotic intent.

Philip Rylands

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Paolo Veneziano

[Paolo da Venezia]

(fl 1333–58; d before 1362). Italian painter and possibly illuminator. He was by far the most prolific and influential Venetian painter of the early 14th century, as well as the only artist of the century who may be considered the official painter of the Republic.

Robert Gibbs

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Term used to refer specifically to the rivalry of the arts of painting and sculpture. In 1817 in Manzi’s edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattato della pittura the word appeared as the title to Leonardo’s witty defence of painting against the arts of poetry, music and sculpture, although it had not had this association before. Polemical comparisons of the arts are widely documented in 16th-century sources, yet a comprehensive work on the subject has never been attempted.

Claire Farago

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[Mazzola, Girolamo Francesco Maria]

(b Parma, 11 Jan 1503; d Casalmaggiore, 24 Aug 1540). Italian painter, draughtsman and printmaker. Beginning a career that was to last only two decades, he moved from precocious success in the shadow of Correggio in Parma to be hailed in the Rome of Clement VII as Raphael reborn. There he executed few large-scale works but was introduced to printmaking. After the Sack of Rome in 1527, he returned to North Italy, where in his final decade he created some of his most markedly Mannerist works. Equally gifted as a painter of small panels and large-scale frescoes both sacred and profane, he was also one of the most penetrating portrait painters of his age. Throughout his career he was a compulsive draughtsman, not only of preparatory studies for paintings and prints, but also of scenes from everyday life and of erotica.

David Ekserdjian

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Pasti, Matteo de’

(b Verona, c. 1420; d Rimini, after 15 May 1467). Italian medallist, architect, painter and illuminator. He came from a good Veronese family (his father was a doctor, two of his brothers were in the church and three others were merchants). He is first documented in 1441, when he was working in Venice as painter to Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici illustrating Petrarch’s Trionfi (untraced). Subsequently (1444–6), he worked as an illuminator for the Este court, under the direction of Giorgio d’Alemagna.

Pier Giorgio Pasini

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Paul III, Pope

[Alessandro Farnese]

(b Canino, nr Viterbo, 29 Feb 1468; elected 1534; d Rome, 10 Nov 1549). He received a humanist education at the University of Pisa and at the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Magnificent), where he came into contact with such leading scholars as Angelo Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Cristoforo Landino and probably with the young Michelangelo. In 1491 he entered the curia in Rome as an apostolic notary and in 1493 was made a cardinal by the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, who was said to have had Alessandro’s sister, Giulia Farnese, as one of his mistresses. Cardinal Farnese’s career prospered; he accumulated 16 bishoprics and finally realized his ambition to become pope in 1534. Despite a licentious past, which had produced at least four illegitimate children, he worked devotedly and with the skill of a consummate politician to repair the devastations of the Sack of Rome (1527) and to overcome problems caused by the Reformation.

Till R. Verellen

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Italian family of merchants, bankers and patrons. They were established as merchants in Florence by the late 13th century. Andrea di Guglielmo Pazzi (1372–1445) made his fortune as a banker, initially working for the Medici bank in Rome in the 1420s, and had a successful diplomatic and political career. When René I, King of Naples, came to Florence in 1442, he stayed with the Pazzi and conferred a knighthood on Andrea.

Amanda Lillie

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Term used in two main senses with respect to art: generally, for any systematic technique that renders the illusion of recession behind a two-dimensional surface (including receding lines, gradients of colour, tone and texture, degrees of clarity etc); but also more specifically, for the geometrical technique of linear perspective, the modern form of which was invented in the early Renaissance. . . . At its simplest, linear perspective relies on the way in which sets of inclined lines tend to be read as signalling some degree of space behind the surface on which they are drawn.

Janis Callen Bell

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[Vannucci, Pietro di Cristoforo]

(b Città della Pieve, c. 1450; d Fontignano, ?Feb 1523).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He was active in Perugia, Florence and Rome in the late 15th century and early 16th. Although he is now known mainly as the teacher of Raphael, he made a significant contribution to the development of painting from the style of the early Renaissance to the High Renaissance. The compositional model he introduced, combining the Florentine figural style with an Umbrian use of structure and space, was taken up by Raphael and became widely influential throughout Europe.

Sylvia Ferino Pagden

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Petrarch, Francesco

Petrarch [Petrarca], Francesco

(b Arezzo, 20 July 1304; d Arquà, nr Padua, 19 July 1374).

Italian poet and humanist. He was the central figure of Italian literary culture in the mid-14th century. The son of an exiled Florentine notary who moved to Avignon in 1312, Petrarch led a peripatetic career as a man of letters; after studying law at Montpellier (1316) and Bologna (1320), he alternated residence between France and the Italian courts until 1353, when he finally settled in Italy. He often acted as an ambassador and orator on state occasions. His work largely initiated the transition from the fragmentary humanism of the late Middle Ages to the more systematic classicism of the Renaissance. His observations on art were sporadic and usually marginal, but they are crucially important for the understanding of the development of a critical vocabulary for art, and for revealing the way in which an appreciation of the visual arts began to be absorbed into the concerns of literary humanism. Petrarch also has an important place in art history owing to his known connections with contemporary artists, the visual interpretation or illustration of his work in the Trecento, and the unusually large number of portraits made of him during or just after his lifetime.

John Richards

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Italian city in Tuscany, 50 km south of Siena. The small hamlet of Corsignano (birthplace of Pius II) was transformed into the beautiful city of Pienza during one of the most intense periods of urban renewal in Renaissance Italy. The newly elected Pope made a return visit there in February 1459 and found it peopled by individuals who were ‘bowed down by old age and illness’. He determined to ‘build there a new church and a palace . . . to leave as lasting as possible a memorial of his birth’. In June 1462 Pius requested the senate in Rome to rename the town Pienza (a name deriving from his own) and to raise it to the level of a city state. During the mid-15th century the town was officially in the possession of the Sienese, but with its elevation and change of name it effectively came under the rule of Rome.

Anabel Thomas

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Piero di Cosimo

[Piero di Lorenzo di Piero d’Antonio]

(b ?Florence, 1461–2; d Florence ?1521). Italian painter and draughtsman. . . . By 1480 Piero appears no longer to have been living at the family house in the Via della Scala, Florence, but was an unsalaried apprentice or workshop assistant to Cosimo Rosselli, from whom he received room and board and eventually took the name of Piero di Cosimo. . . . Despite Piero di Cosimo’s significant contribution to landscape painting, his imaginative, unorthodox and often poignant treatment of pagan as well as Christian subjects and the vital role he played in the formation of some of the most important artists working in Florence in the first quarter of the 16th century (Fra Bartolommeo, Mariotto Albertinelli, Jacopo Pontormo and possibly Andrea del Sarto were among his pupils), he was for centuries better known for the personal eccentricity that constitutes the focus of Vasari’s biography.

William Griswold

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Devotional image of the Virgin Mary mourning the dead Christ, who lies across her lap. Occasionally other figures, such as St John the Evangelist or Joseph of Arimathea, grieve with her. The Pietà was a popular devotional subject in European painting and sculpture from the 13th century to the end of the 17th.

Barbara Watts

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[Pisano, Antonio]

(b Pisa or Verona, by 1395; d ?c. Oct 1455).

Italian painter, draughtsman and medallist. His richly decorative frescoes, courtly and elegant painted portraits and highly original portrait medals made him one of the most popular artists of the day. He travelled extensively and worked for several Italian courts, at Mantua, Ferrara, Pavia, Milan and Naples. Many of his paintings have been lost or damaged, making a reconstruction of his career difficult. He is now better known as a medallist.

Renzo Chiarelli, J. G. Pollard

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Pisano, Andrea

[Andrea da Pontedera]

(b Pontedera, c. 1295; d ?Orvieto, 1348–9). He was the son of the Pisan Notary Ugolino di Nino and the father of (2) Nino Pisano and (3) Tommaso Pisano. He was a goldsmith, sculptor and Master of the Cathedral Works in both Florence and Orvieto, a position that was not necessarily connected to the function of architect. His artistic importance derives principally from the fact that he adapted the ‘principles of monumental painting’ developed by Giotto ‘to the medium of relief’ (Falk 1940), and by so doing gave a decisive impetus to the development from the Gothic conception of a draped figure towards the weightiness of the Renaissance standing figure with its organically related drapery.

G. Kreytenberg

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Pius II, Pope

[Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini]

(b Corsignano [now Pienza], nr Siena, 18 Oct 1405; elected 1458; d Ancona, 15 Aug 1464).

Born of a Sienese noble family in exile, he studied classics and law in Siena, and travelled north of the Alps as secretary and diplomatic envoy to the cardinals at the Council of Basle, the anti-pope Felix V and the emperor Frederick III. He took holy orders in 1446, and returned to Italy to become bishop of Trieste (1447), bishop of Siena (1450) and cardinal (1456). A humanist gifted with an insatiable curiosity for history, travel and current events, with a penetrating eye for character and a love for landscape, he felt compelled to record his experiences and the results of his topographical studies in elegant Latin. Of all his many literary works, the Commentaries, written like Caesar’s in the third person, remain the most vivid source for his life and times.

Ruth Olitsky Rubinstein

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Term for a class of replicated, portable, small sculptural reliefs in metal (usually bronze) developed in Italy in the 1440s. Plaquettes were important there until the 1540s, whence the type diffused in the 16th and 17th centuries to Germany, Flanders and France. The word ‘plaquette’ was invented in France in the 1860s at the outset of the modern study of this art form; the 16th-century Italian words for the type are medaglietta and piastra, which were used generically for cap-badges, independent plaquettes and those incorporated in decorated utensils.

Douglas Lewis

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Plato’s Phaedrus

One of the late dialogues of Plato, probably from about 370 BC, which addresses ostensibly the question of love. The dialogue, which takes place between Socrates and Phaedrus, also considers the nature of inspiration.


Titus Maccius Plautus (254?–184 BC) was the greatest Roman comedic playwright. His approximately 130 plays (of which some twenty survive in more or less complete form) present stock characters such as the crafty slave in plots involving love triangles, mistaken identities, and improbable resolutions. The Menaechmi inspired Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.

Pliny the elder

(b Comum [now Como, Italy], AD 23 or 24; d Bay of Naples, 24 Aug 79).

He was the author of the encyclopedic Natural History in 37 books, of which Books XXXIII–XXXVII on stones and metals offer the sole surviving history of art from antiquity. The text is eclectic, combining excerpts of earlier treatises from the 5th to the 1st century BC with Pliny’s own topical comments about the setting and meaning of art in mid-1st century AD Rome. Preserved through the Middle Ages, the Natural History exerted an enormous influence on artists and theoreticians from the Renaissance on. In particular Pliny’s historical scheme of an artistic evolution culminating in Greek art of the 5th and 4th centuries BC, with its vivid anecdotes about individual works and artists, fuelled movements of classicism and provided a foundation for the discipline of art history.

Bettina Bergmann

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(b Khaironeia, c. AD 50; d Delphi, after 120).

Greek priest and author. Plutarch’s prolific writings include many metaphors drawn from art and artistic production, but his principal contributions to art history are two antiquarian works on Greek and Roman religious customs, Quaestiones graecae (Gr. Aitia hellenika) and Quaestiones romanae (Gr. Aitia romaika). Cast in dialogue question-and-answer form, these works attempt to offer mythological or historical explanations for some of the arcana of Greek and Roman cultic observance, incidentally providing interpretations of religious iconography and much specific information on the layout of shrines and temples which would otherwise be lost.

Dominic Montserrat

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(b Argos or Sikyon, fl c. 450–c. 415 BC). Greek sculptor. Along with Pheidias, with whom he is often compared in the sources, Polykleitos was the most important sculptor in bronze of the 5th century BC. He wrote a manual (the Canon) and headed the first recorded major ‘school’ of sculptors, which lasted three generations, and he influenced not only the sculpture of his own time but also Hellenistic and Roman sculpture.

A. Linfert

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Type of object with several panels, usually an altarpiece, although it may also fulfil other functions. The polyptych normally consists of a central panel with an even number of side-panels, which are sometimes hinged to fold. Although in principle every object with two panels or more may be called a polyptych, the word is normally used as a general term for anything larger than a triptych. As with diptychs and triptychs, the size and material can vary.

Victor M. Schmidt

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Pontormo, Jacopo da

[Carucci, Jacopo]

(b Pontormo, nr Empoli, 26 May 1494; d Florence, 31 Dec 1556). Italian painter and draughtsman. He was the leading painter in mid-16th-century Florence and one of the most original and extraordinary of Mannerist artists. His eccentric personality, solitary and slow working habits and capricious attitude towards his patrons are described by Vasari; his own diary, which covers the years 1554–6, further reveals a character with neurotic and secretive aspects. Pontormo enjoyed the protection of the Medici family throughout his career but, unlike Agnolo Bronzino and Giorgio Vasari, did not become court painter. His subjective portrait style did not lend itself to the state portrait. He produced few mythological works and after 1540 devoted himself almost exclusively to religious subjects. His drawings, mainly figure studies in red and black chalk, are among the highest expressions of the great Florentine tradition of draughtsmanship; close to 400 survive, forming arguably the most important body of drawings by a Mannerist painter. His highly personal style was much influenced by Michelangelo, though he also drew on northern art, primarily the prints of Albrecht Dürer.

Janet Cox-Rearick

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(b Athens, ?c. 400 BC; d Athens, c. 330 BC).

Greek sculptor. His career spanned the 370s to the 340s BC. He was the foremost Attic sculptor of the Late Classical period, son (or possibly son-in-law or brother) and pupil of the sculptor Kephisodotos and father of the sculptors Kephisodotos the younger and Timarchos. Praxiteles’ affluence is attested by his practice of fashioning models for statues without having to depend on commissions and by his expensive gifts to his favourite model, the courtesan Phryne.

Olga Palagia

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Term used for a horizontal band, cut from a single plank, below the main panels of an altarpiece. The appearance of the predella can be seen as part of the development of the altarpiece from a single panel to a large, multi-storey Polyptych. The small figures or scenes painted on the predella formed part of the integrated programme of the altarpiece, providing a visual commentary on the major images above and at the same time raising the main panels, and thus improving their visibility.

Ronald Baxter

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Predis, Giovanni Ambrogio de

(b Milan, c. 1455; d after 1508).

Painter and illuminator, half-brother of Cristoforo de Predis. He began his career as an illuminator, working with Cristoforo. . . . From 1479 he artist worked in the Milanese mint, together with his brother Bernardino. For some years Giovanni Ambrogio also worked at the court of Ludovico Sforza (‘il Moro’), especially as a portrait painter. This is borne out by the charcoal drawing of Bianca Maria Sforza (1492; Venice, Accad.), which dates from a period before her marriage to Emperor Maximilian I. The portrait was ordered by her future husband, through Frederick III, Duke of Saxony, to give him an idea of her appearance.

Enrica Banti

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Term used to describe images and information produced and disseminated for social, ideological or religious purposes. For some scholars almost any art, including monumental art and even entire cities, can be regarded as a form of propaganda. The word is most commonly associated, however, with the deliberate manipulation of narrative art and graphic symbols to alter public opinion, a strategy adopted in modern times particularly by totalitarian regimes in the Western world seeking to engineer democratic support.
Kendall Taylor

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Raffaellino del Garbo

[Raffaelle de’ Capponi; Raffaelle de’ Carli; Raffaelle de Florentia]

(b Florence, ?1466; d Florence, 1524). Italian painter and draughtsman. According to Vasari, he began as the most gifted assistant of Filippino Lippi and the most promising painter of the new generation but never fulfilled expectations, deteriorating into mediocrity and worse.

Paula Nuttall

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[Santi, Raffaello; Sanzio, Raffaello]

(b Urbino, 28 March or 6 April 1483; d Rome, 6 April 1520).

Italian painter, draughtsman and architect. He has always been acknowledged as one of the greatest European artists. With Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Titian, he was one of the most famous painters working in Italy in the period from 1500 to 1520, often identified as the High Renaissance, and in this period he was perhaps the most important figure. His early altarpieces (of 1500–07) were made for Città di Castello and Perugia; in Florence between 1504 and 1508 he created some of his finest portraits and a series of devotional paintings of the Holy Family. In 1508 he moved to Rome, where he decorated in fresco the Stanze of the papal apartments in the Vatican Palace—perhaps his most celebrated works—as well as executing smaller paintings in oil (including portraits) and a series of major altarpieces, some of which were sent from Rome to other centres. In Rome, Raphael came to run a large workshop. He also diversified, working as an architect and designer of prints.

Nicholas Penny

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Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt (Harmensz.) van Rijn [Rhyn]
(b Leiden, 15 July 1606; d Amsterdam, 4 Oct 1669, bur 8 Oct 1669). Dutch painter, draughtsman and etcher. From 1632 onwards he signed his works with only the forename Rembrandt; in documents, however, he continued to sign Rembrandt van Rijn (occasionally van Rhyn), initially with the addition of the patronymic ‘Harmensz.’. This was no doubt in imitation of the great Italians such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, on whom he modelled himself, sometimes literally. . . . His fame is partly due to his multi-faceted talent. . . . Rembrandt was not only a gifted painter but also an inspired graphic artist: he has probably never been surpassed as an etcher, and he often seems inimitable as a draughtsman. His subjects reflect his manifold talent and interests. He painted, drew and etched portraits, landscapes, figures and animals, but, above all, scenes of biblical and secular history and mythology. Contemporary critics ascribed the highest artistic value to his history paintings, as opposed to his portraits, which were regarded as a necessary evil. . . . Rembrandt executed about 400 paintings and over 1000 drawings (many attributions are still disputed). The number of his etchings can be somewhat more accurately estimated at 290.
B. P. J. Broos

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Ricci, Marco

(b Belluno, 5 June 1676; d 21 Jan 1730).

Painter, printmaker and stage designer, nephew of (1) Sebastiano Ricci. He probably began his career in Venice in the late 1690s as his uncle’s pupil, concentrating on history paintings (untraced). Having murdered a gondolier in a tavern brawl, he fled to Split in Dalmatia, where he remained for four years and was apprenticed to a landscape painter (Temanza, 1738). Once back in Venice (c. 1700) he put this training to use in painting theatrical scenery. Little is known about his early development, and it remains difficult to establish a chronology for his work. . . . His earliest dated works, a tempera painting, View with Classical Ruins (1702; priv. col.), and a Landscape with Fishermen (1703; ex-Kupferstichkab., Berlin; untraced), are serene and classical, close in style to tempera paintings generally dated 1710–30.

Dulcia Meijers

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Riccio, Andrea

Riccio [Briosco], Andrea

(b Trent, 1 April 1470; d Padua, 8 July 1532). Italian sculptor. He worked in terracotta and bronze, mostly on the small scale of statuettes, plaquettes and elegant domestic items such as inkstands and oil lamps. Usually regarded as the greatest exponent of this kind of work, he was a specialist in rendering themes of Classical mythology to the satisfaction of the erudite humanist professors of Padua University. His oeuvre is often neglected because of its small scale, but it constitutes one of the loftiest and most fascinating manifestations of the poetic paganism of the High Renaissance: the equivalent, and sometimes perhaps the inspiration, of the great Venetian mythological paintings of the period, by Giovanni Bellini, Cima, Giorgione and Titian.

Charles Avery

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Rimini: S Francesco

The church, built by the Franciscans in the second half of the 13th century, was chosen by the lords of Rimini as their burial place. Around 1450 it was enlarged and embellished by Sigismondo Malatesta: carved inscriptions in the building record that this work was in fulfilment of a vow taken during the Italic Wars, when Sigismondo’s troops served as mercenaries in the armies of Venice and Florence. This official motive must, however, have been accompanied by a strong desire for self-glorification. The work came to a halt in 1461. It was completed by the Franciscans over subsequent centuries but not to the intended scheme. The two easternmost chapels and the apse were added in the 18th century, and from about this period the church was also known as the ‘Tempio Malatestiano’.

Pier Giorgio Pasini

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Robbia, della

Italian family of sculptors and potters. They were active in Florence from the early 15th century and elsewhere in Italy and France well into the 16th. Family members were traditionally employed in the textile industry, and their name derives from rubia tinctorum, a red dye. Luca della Robbia founded the family sculpture workshop in Florence and was regarded by contemporaries as a leading artistic innovator, comparable to Donatello and Masaccio. . . . He is credited with the invention of the tin-glazed terracotta sculpture for which the family became well known. His nephew Andrea della Robbia, who inherited the workshop, tended to use more complex compositions and polychrome glazing rather than the simple blue-and-white schemes favoured by his uncle.

Giancarlo Gentilini

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Roberti, Ercole de’

Roberti, Ercole (d’Antonio) de’ [Grandi, Ercole (di Giulio Cesare) de’]

(b Ferrara, c. 1455–6; d 18 May–1 July 1496).

Italian painter and draughtsman. He was, together with Cosimo Tura and Francesco del Cossa, one of the most important painters working in Ferrara and Bologna in the 15th century. Although many of his works have been destroyed, those that survive show that he raised the depiction of human emotion and narrative drama to remarkable heights. From 1486 he worked as court painter to Ercole I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara.

Kristen Lippincott

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Rollins, Tim and K. O. S.

Rollins, Tim and K[ids]. O[f]. S[urvival].

American group of painters and draughtsmen. After studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York (1975–7) and at New York University (1977 and 1979), in 1980 Rollins (b Pittsfield, ME, 1955) co-founded Group Material, a collaboration of artists mounting exhibitions with social themes. The collaboration that followed in the early 1980s with K.O.S. emerged out of teaching he did at after-school workshops in a public school in the South Bronx district of New York. Drawing together teenagers with artistic ability, but with various problems (records of truancy, behavioural problems or learning disabilities) Rollins set up the project at a local community centre. . . . Influenced by the theories of Brazilian educationalist Paulo Freire, Rollins led the students to develop work out of critical engagement with texts, often classics of western literature. The work of drawing and painting the images that evolved from those discussions was apportioned to different members of the group; the first task was to cover the canvas with pages from the source text, laid out in grid formation. They tackled such literature as Franz Kafka’s Amerika, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Obliterating much of the text with suggestive and enigmatic motifs, often in gold paint, and rejecting the usual conventions of illustration, they produced poetic and visually sumptuous objects in response to their sources.

Morgan Falconer

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Rome: Lateran Palace

Situated near the Porta S Giovanni, the Lateran is a complex comprising the former papal palace, the basilica of S Giovanni in Laterano and the baptistery. It was the popes’ main residence before their departure to Avignon in 1308.

The medieval papal residence at the Lateran was abandoned by the popes on their return from Avignon in favour of the Vatican and was derelict by the late 16th century. Sixtus V removed all traces of the medieval buildings just two months after his enthronement in 1585, except for the Scala Sancta, the Sancta Sanctorum (the papal private chapel of S Lorenzo), both of which were incorporated into a new building (1586–9) by Domenico Fontana, and part of the triclinium of Leo III rebuilt by Ferdinando Fuga in 1741–4.

Bettina Burkart

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Rome: Pantheon

Circular domed temple erected on the Campus Martius between c. AD 118 and 125 (see fig.). Preserved almost intact, it is a unique achievement in Roman architecture and one of the most celebrated buildings in all architectural history. It was converted into the church of S Maria ad Martyres in AD 609. Study of brick stamps and limited excavations in 1891–2 show that the whole structure was built by Hadrian. The inscription on the porch entablature stating that it was built by M. Agrippa refers to an earlier Pantheon under the present one, a dynastic monument to honour Augustus and the Julio-Claudian family. Despite the importance of the building, the only ancient reference to it is by Dio Cassius (early 3rd century AD), who mistook it for the earlier building of Agrippa and referred to the building as a temple dedicated to many gods (History of Rome, LIII.xxvii.2).

Fikret K. Yegül

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Rome: Trajan’s Column

Monument in the Forum of Trajan (see §2(V) above), covered in relief carving, which was dedicated 18 May AD 113. The inscription over its door (Corp. Inscr. Lat., vi, 960) indicates that it commemorated Trajan’s accomplishment in excavating the Quirinal Hill and building his forum and markets, which are visible (through 43 windows) from the inner stair and crowning platform. Eight blocks form the base (26.83 sq. m, h. 5.37 m), entered by a door in the south-east face; its chamber received Trajan’s ash-urn at his death in AD 117 (Dio: Roman History XLVIII.xvi.3); if Titus’ ashes (d AD 81) were in the attic of the Arch of Titus, intramural burial had precedent. The Tuscan Doric column held a colossal bronze Trajan c. 5.5 m tall, of which the head (now lost) was 694 mm; coins of AD 113 show a heroic nude, a spear in the right hand. The 29.78 m Luna marble shaft (17 drums, each 1.44 m high with diameters tapering from 3.83 m to 3.66 m) made with the capital a columna centenaria of 100 Roman feet. Column portraits were traditional in Rome from the 5th century BC; new were the shaft’s spiral narrative relief and internal stair of 185 steps.

Ann Kuttner

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Italian family of artists. The brothers (1) Bernardo Rossellino and (2) Antonio Rossellino were responsible for some of the most important sculptural projects in Florence between 1440 and 1470. Although both artists are now referred to as Rossellino (‘little redhead’), this nickname was applied specifically to Antonio; the family name used by both brothers in documents is Gamberelli. By 1399 their father, Matteo Gamberelli, was living in Settignano, where his five sons were born. Matteo and his brothers were masons, and all his sons were trained as such.

Shelley E. Zuraw

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Rossellino, Antonio

(b Settignano, 1427–8; d Florence, 1479).

Sculptor, brother of Bernardo Rossellino. He belonged to the same generation as Desiderio da Settignano and Mino da Fiesole; his development more closely parallels theirs than it does that of his brother, and his style is softer and more fluid. Yet it should be assumed that Antonio received his formal training from his brother, and there are clearly similarities in their work, especially from the 1450s.

Shelley E. Zuraw

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Rossellino, Bernardo

(b Settignano, ?1407–10; d Florence, 1464).

Sculptor and architect. He was among the most distinguished Florentine marble sculptors in the second half of the 15th century. Extremely proficient technically, he was able to draw on a variety of sources, contemporary and antique, to create refined and sophisticated images. His architectural style is severely classical, and he was skilled in designing complex monuments, in which sculptured figures and architecture are harmoniously integrated.

Shelley E. Zuraw

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Rossi, Properzia de’

(b Bologna, c. 1490; d Bologna, 1530). Italian sculptor. She is referred to in a document dated 1516 as the daughter of Girolamo de’ Rossi of Bologna. Among the few recorded women artists in the 16th century, she was unusual in working as a sculptor. According to Vasari, she began by carving peach stones: a peach stone he described as engraved with the entire Passion has been identified as that forming part of a necklace (Pesaro, Pal. Bonamini–Pepoli).

Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe

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Rosso Fiorentino

[Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso]

(b Florence, 8 March 1494; d ?Fontainebleau, 14 Nov 1540).

Italian painter and draughtsman, active also in France. He was a major Florentine Mannerist, whose art is both elegant and emotionally intense. He was influential in Rome, and in Paris and Fontainebleau became one of a group of Italian artists who were instrumental in pioneering a northern, more secular Mannerism.

Michael Davenport

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Rovere, della (i): (2) Pope Julius II

(b Albissola [Savona], 5 Dec 1443; elected 1503; d Rome, 20–21 Feb 1513).

Nephew of Pope Sixtus IV. The great patron of the High Renaissance in Rome, he commissioned Donate Bramante to build the new St Peter’s, Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling and Raphael to decorate his private apartments, the stanze (all Rome, Vatican). He was born into a noble but impoverished family, the son of Raffaele della Rovere (d 1477) and Theodora Manerola.

Sabine Eiche

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A building of stone or wood, deliberately constructed to give the impression of an intact structure that has decayed. Ruin building was particularly fashionable in Europe in the 18th century and the later 19th. The definition can be widened to include, for example, ruinous structures created from hedges; and illusionistic painting could create ‘ruinous’ interiors, as in the Sala dei Giganti (c. 1534) at the Palazzo del Te, Mantua, by Giulio Romano. Outdoor ruins also incorporated painting to create vistas and viewpoints to be seen from a distance, and also to mask intrusive walls. Constructions such as these, however, were primarily intended as scenery, and should be classified with temporary festival buildings. Artificial ruins also make frequent use of spolia, especially in ‘medieval’ constructions; but genuine ruins were also used as spolia to endow a modern aristocratic residence with historical authenticity, their presence in the park giving them the function of artificial ruins.

Reinhard Zimmermann

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Sacra conversazione

Term applied to a type of religious painting, depicting the Virgin and Child flanked on either side by saints, which developed during the 15th and 16th centuries and is associated primarily with the Italian Renaissance. The specific characteristics of the genre are that the figures, who are of comparable physical dimensions, seem to co-exist within the same space and light, are aware of each other and share a common emotion. This relationship is conveyed, with greater or lesser emphasis, by gesture and expression. The compositions are usually frontal and centralized, and are distinguished by an aura of stillness and meditation.

Nigel Gauk-Roger

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Italian family of patrons. The family was of Florentine origin, and some of its members held important civic and religious positions. Cardinal Giovanni Salviati (1490–1553) took into his service in Rome the painter Francesco de’ Rossi, who, as a sign of his attachment, used the name Francesco Slaviati.

Chiara Stefani

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Sansovino, Andrea

[Andrea dal Monte Sansovino]

(b Monte Sansovino, c. 1467; d Monte Sansovino, 1529). Italian sculptor. A contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, he formulated the rubric of High Renaissance form for sculpture as Leonardo did for painting. His style and technique as well as his association with the della Robbia workshop place him firmly in the mainstream of late 15th-century Florentine art. According to Vasari, he was an important architect and a sculptor in bronze as well as marble, but the bronzes and architectural projects mentioned are untraced. A number of drawings (e.g. London, V&A), principally for altars and wall-tomb projects, are attributed to Sansovino, but none can be related to particular extant works.

Virginia Anne Bonito

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Sansovino, Jacopo

Jacopo (d’Antonio) Sansovino [Tatti]

(b Florence, bapt 2 July 1486; d Venice, 27 Nov 1570). Sculptor and architect. After establishing his reputation in Florence and Rome, he moved to Venice following the Sack of Rome (1527) and remained active there until his death. His most important architectural works were buildings that transformed the Piazza S Marco. The influence of his sculptural style continued well into the 17th century.

Bruce Boucher

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Sanvito, Bartolomeo

Sanvito [San Vito], Bartolomeo

(b Padua, 1435 or 1438; d Padua, after 1518).

Italian scribe and illuminator. He was also the most important humanist scribe in Padua, whose monumental epigraphic style was influential also in Rome and Naples. He is first documented as ‘scriptor’ at the end of the 1450s in Padua, where he was in contact with academic circles and in particular with Bernardo Bembo (1422–1519), a Venetian patrician, who in those years was a student in Padua and for whom Sanvito produced splendid manuscripts (e.g. the Oratio gratulatoria, London, BL, Add. MS. 14787). In these, as in other works executed in Padua in the late 1450s and early 1460s, script and decoration were revived in a humanist and antiquarian vein, aimed at recreating the Classical codex. From 1469 to 1501 Sanvito was in Rome at the papal court, where he transcribed numerous books, some signed with the monogram b.s., for such illustrious patrons as the humanist Bartolomeo Sacchi or il Platina (1421–81) and cardinals Francesco Gonzaga and Giovanni d’Aragona (1456–85). Sanvito’s writing, recognizable by certain graphic features and other idiosyncracies, clearly shows his role in the spread of italic script, a cursive variant of the ‘littera antiqua’.

Federica Toniolo

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Sarto, Andrea del

[Agnolo, Andrea d’]

(b Florence, 16 July 1486; d Florence, 29 Sept 1530). Italian painter and draughtsman. He was the leading painter in Florence in the early years of the 16th century, and, under the influence of Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Bartolommeo, Michelangelo and Raphael, he elaborated and perfected the classical style of the High Renaissance. In the second decade of the 16th century his art anticipated aspects of Mannerism, while his direct, immediate works of the 1520s became important models for the more naturalistic Tuscan artists of the Counter-Reformation. He painted mainly religious works, including both altarpieces and major cycles of frescoes. His portraits, distinguished by a dreamily poetic quality, are among the most individual of the High Renaissance.

Serena Padovani

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Sassetti, Francesco

Sassetti, Francesco (di Tommaso)

(b Florence, 1 March 1421; d Florence, ?31 March 1490).

Italian patron. He became general manager of the Medici banking empire in 1463, and his relationship with the Medici shaped his life and informed his taste. His first major achievement as a patron was the purchase of a villa in Florence, which he rebuilt on a magnificent scale between c. 1460 and c. 1466 (now Villa La Pietra, Via Bolognese 120).

Amanda Lillie

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Savoldo, Giovanni Girolamo

[Giovan Gerolamo]

(fl 1506–48). Italian painter. Although called ‘da Brescia’ by himself and others, he is not known to have lived in Brescia, and the term may indicate his family origin or he may just have left the city in his youth. From at least 1521, until his death, he lived in Venice and is thus regarded stylistically as a painter of Venice, rather than of Brescia. More than any of his contemporaries, he specialized in pictures of single figures, both sacred and secular. Their imposing volume, which sometimes almost fills the frame, harks back to the 15th century, but they are made modern and animated by the use of vivid colours (often in masses of a single hue) and the importance given the environment by subtle lighting. He also painted wide-format portraits, which would have appeared similarly modern to his contemporaries. After his death, he sank into total obscurity and has been reinstated as one of the masters of the High Renaissance only in the 20th century.

Creighton E. Gilbert

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Savonarola, Girolamo

(b Ferrara, 21 Sept 1452; d Florence, 23 May 1498). Italian friar, preacher and writer. His grandfather was the famous author and physician Michele Savonarola (c. 1385–1464) and his father, Niccolò Savonarola, a prominent doctor at the court of Ferrara. In 1475 Savonarola left Ferrara and entered the Dominican monastery of S Domenico, Bologna, where he studied theology until 1479. He returned to Ferrara in 1481 to preach at the convent of the Angeli and made visits to Florence between 1482 and 1487. In 1487 he was appointed Master of Studies in the studium generale of S Domenico, Bologna. In 1490 he was transferred, at the request of Lorenzo the Magnificent, to S Marco in Florence and was made a prior there in 1491. As early as 1472 he had composed a canzone entitled De ruina mundi, berating the corruption of the world, a theme to which he often returned. . . . Savonarola is associated with the Bruciamenti delle Vanità (bonfires of the vanities), especially with the two that took place on 7 February 1497 and 27 February 1498, in which dice, playing cards, cosmetics, mirrors, false hair, profane books and even paintings were destroyed.

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Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman best known for his victory over Hannibal in the Second Punic War. In the Renaissance he was noted for the clemency and restraint he showed the defeated.

Sebastiano del Piombo

[Luciani, Sebastiano; Venetus, Sebastianus; Veneziano, Sebastiano; Viniziano,Sebastiano]

(b ?Venice, 1485–6; d Rome, 21 June 1547).

Italian painter. He was one of the most important artists in Italy in the first half of the 16th century, active in Venice and Rome (see fig.). His early, Venetian, paintings are reminiscent of Giovanni Bellini and to a lesser extent of Giorgione. With his move to Rome in 1511 he came under the influence of Raphael and then of Michelangelo, who supplied him with drawings. After the death of Raphael (1520), he was the leading painter working in Rome and was particularly noted as a portrait painter. In his finest works, such as the Pietà (1513; Viterbo, Mus. Civ.) and the Flagellation (1516–24; Rome, S Pietro in Montorio), there is a remarkable fusion of the Venetian use of colour and the grand manner of Central Italian classicism.

Mauro Lucco

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Sellaio, Jacopo del

[Jacopo di Arcangelo di Jacopo]

(b Florence, c. 1441; d Florence, 1493).

Italian painter. He is first mentioned in his father’s catasto (land registry declaration) of 1446 as a child of five. By 1460 he had joined the Compagnia di S Luca in Florence, and in October 1473 he appears in their records sharing a studio with Filippo di Giuliano (fl 1473–91). . . . Sellaio’s paintings show a brittle, linear technique and a light, pastel palette, clearly indebted to Botticelli. Vasari describes both Sellaio and Botticelli as fellow pupils of Fra Filippo Lippi.

Eliot W. Rowlands


Religious order, comprising friars, contemplative nuns and both conventual and secular tertiaries. It was founded in 1233 by seven Florentine cloth merchants, members of a confraternity in praise of the Virgin known as the Laudesi, who had seen a vision of the Assumption and resolved to renounce all earthly concerns and devote their lives to spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They based their new order on the mendicant tradition and adopted a habit similar to that of the Dominicans, except that it is totally black. The Servites have always followed the Roman liturgy, adding special passages of devotion to the Virgin.

Beverly Louise Brown

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Sforza, Francesco I

[Attendolo], Duke of Milan

(b San Miniato, 23 July 1401; reg 1450–66; d Milan, 8 March 1466).

He was the son of the condottiere Muzio Attendolo and established himself as one of the most important military figures in 15th-century Italy. In 1441 he married Bianca Maria, the illegitimate daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan. Following Filippo Maria’s death in 1447 and a short-lived attempt by the Milanese to create a republic (the Ambrosian Republic), Sforza declared himself Duke in 1450. His sponsorship of the arts was primarily directed towards religious and civic building projects. During the first ten years of his rule his patronage was dominated by the need to reconstruct and restore major Visconti fortresses, particularly the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, which had been destroyed during the Ambrosian Republic. Francesco also took up the traditional ducal sponsorship of the building of Milan Cathedral and the Certosa di Pavia.

E. S. Welch

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Sforza, Galeazzo Maria

Duke of Milan

(b Fermo, 14 Jan 1444; reg 1466–76; d Milan, 27 Dec 1476).

Son of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Sforza. Lacking a juridical right for his father’s conquest of the duchy of Milan, his ten-year rule was dominated by the need to legitimize Sforza control. He emphasized his Visconti descent through his mother by supporting such traditional Milanese projects as the construction of Milan Cathedral and the Certosa di Pavia. His greatest contributions, however, concerned the building of a new residence within the Castello Sforzesco in Milan and the redecoration of the Castello in Pavia.

E. S. Welch

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Sforza, Ludovico

Ludovico (Maria) Sforza [Ludovico il Moro], Duke of Milan

(b Abbiategrasso, 3 Aug 1452; reg 1494–99; d Loches, Touraine, 27 May 1508).

Son of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Sforza. In 1480, several years after the death of his brother Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1476, he succeeded in gaining control of the regency but did not become duke in name until his nephew Gian Galeazzo Sforza died in 1494. His commissions, both public and private, were divided between Lombard and Tuscan masters. . . . Of the artistsLudovico encouraged to come to Lombardy, an undated letter reveals that he was considering Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Perugino and Ghirlandaio as court artists. About 1482 Leonardo da Vinci arrived in Milan, where he remained as an intimate member of Ludovico’s household for 18 years. As court painter, Leonardo is documented as having portrayed two of Ludovico’s mistresses, Lucrezia Crivelli and Cecilia Gallerani. . . . Much of his work was for such courtly ephemera as the designs for the spectacle Festa del Paradiso, composed in 1490.

E. S. Welch

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Sixtus IV, Pope

[Francesco della Rovere]

(b Celle, nr Savona, 21 July 1414; elected 1471; d Rome, 12 Aug 1484).

Of humble origin, he rose through the Franciscan Order to become its general in 1464. His reign as pope was marked by his promotion of his della Rovere relatives and his aggressive pursuit of Italian politics. He was the first pope to act on the programme of renovation of Rome that had been conceived by Nicholas V, and his projects of urban planning, building and artistic patronage had a more lasting impact on the city than those of any Renaissance pontiff except his nephew Julius II.

Hellmut Wohl

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Term applied to Tuscan 15th- and early 16th-century painted wall panels. Originally the term denoted panels that were set into the wall panelling at head or shoulder height above the backrest of a piece of furniture. It was later extended to include panel paintings set into the wall and was an integral part of the wainscoting. With few exceptions, spalliere are characterized by their size and shape—larger than cassone panels and proportionally higher, but still two to three times as long as high. . . . These pictures were installed above a piece of furniture, such as one or more cassoni, a bed or a lettuccio (a high-backed bench with a chest below the seat that doubled as a narrow bed). . . . The upward migration of pictures from chest to wall was necessitated by the increasing acceptance of the idea that the perspective within a composition ought to be constructed to work from a spectator’s viewpoint. Furthermore, whether cause or result, by the third quarter of the 15th century, paintings were much more highly esteemed in the domestic setting and quality was deemed more desirable, as attested by a higher proportion of panels by leading artists made specifically for domestic settings.

Ellen Callmannr

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Spinelli, Niccolò di Forzore

[Niccolò Fiorentino]

(b Florence, 23 April 1430; d Florence, before 23 April 1514).

Medallist, great-nephew of Spinello Aretino. Only a few documents and contemporary references mark the progress of his career. In 1468 a ‘Nicolas de Spinel’, usually identified with this artist, was employed as a seal-engraver at the court of Charles the Bold, 4th Duke of Burgundy. He was in Flanders c. 1505, when Leonardo da Vinci wrote that Niccolò had advised him about a method of diverting a stream . . . Niccolò di Forzore Spinelli’s identity as a medallist is established by only five signed pieces (Hill, 1930, nos 922–6). . . . The five signed pieces epitomize the particular character of Niccolò’s work. Whatever the size of the medal, the portrait is distinctive and confident, dominating the circular field, although in most cases the lettering is not as elegant.

Stephen K. Scher

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Squarcione, Francesco

(b Padua, c. 1395; d Padua, after May 1468).

Italian painter, teacher, draughtsman and printmaker. He is a controversial figure. His mediocre qualities as a painter are less contentious than his role as the head of a school for painters, possibly the earliest private establishment devoted to teaching painting and distinct from the workshop system of instruction through apprenticeships.

Thomas Tolley

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Stradanus, Joannes

[Johannes] [Straat Jan van der; Straet, Jan van (der); Strada, Giovanni della; Stradano, Giovanni; Stratensis, Giovanni]

(b Bruges, 1523; d Florence, 3 Nov 1605). Flemish painter and draughtsman, active in Italy. The traces of his Flemish artistic heritage were much appreciated in the refined Mannerist circle, led by Vasari, in which he was active in Florence. He was especially skilled as a designer of tapestry cycles.

K. M. Rutgers

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Italian family of bankers and patrons. From the time of their election to the city government in 1284 until the Medici regime exiled four of the Strozzi in 1434, they were one of the most powerful families in Florentine politics. The size of the family, which in 1427 was divided between about 40 households, their entrenchment in Florentine patrician circles, their political skill and the wealth of a few individuals ensured their survival under the domination of the Medici.

Amanda Lillie

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Term generally used in 15th- and 16th-century Italy to describe a private domestic room, especially that of a ruler or other distinguished figure. It was not the bedchamber, which usually had a semi-public character, but a smaller, inner room, to which no-one but the owner had automatic access. Earlier studioli were used as studies or libraries. Later examples were essentially private museums. The contents were customarily the owner’s most precious possessions—books, jewels, objets d’art and other artefacts—which would be shown to favoured guests.

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Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (c. 65–130) was a Roman historian whose Twelve Caesars chronicled Rome’s leaders from Caesar to Domition.

Sumptuary laws

Regulations enacted to curb extravagant expenditures and displays of wealth by, for example, limiting the number of rings worn by certain classes or regulating the types of fabric allowed in clothing. Men and women in all societies and periods, not least Renaissance Italy, have found inventive ways around such restrictions.


Term used to describe certain types of sign that are designed to extend the realm of representation, particularly so as to incorporate abstract ideas. Though overlapping in function, they are broadly less sophisticated in operation and meaning than allegories, of which they might form elements. They constitute an important area of study in iconography and iconology.

Jean Wirth

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A built-up surround for an image that provides an architectural dimension like a niche; also the ornamental receptacle used to contain the Host during mass.

Three Graces

In ancient mythology the Graces were goddesses who embodied grace and charm. They were: Aglaia (Brilliance), Thalia (Flowering), and Euphrosyne (Joy). They were popular figures—particularly in a linked-arm pose—for both Roman and Renaissance artists.


[Vecellio, Tiziano]

(b Pieve di Cadore, c. ?1485–90; d Venice, 27 Aug 1576).

Italian painter, draughtsman and printmaker. The most important artist of the Vecellio family, he was immensely successful in his lifetime and since his death has always been considered the greatest painter of the Venetian school. He was equally pre-eminent in all the branches of painting practised in the 16th century: religious subjects, portraits, allegories and scenes from Classical mythology and history. His work illuminates more clearly than that of any other painter the fundamental transition from the 15th-century tradition (characterized by meticulous finish and the use of bright local colours) to that of the 16th century, when painters adopted a broader technique, with less defined outlines and with mutually related colours.

Cecil Gould

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Circular painting or relief carving. It developed as an independent form in Florence in the first half of the 15th century. However, earlier examples of the circular form do exist, for example in France with Jean Malouel’s Pietà (Paris, Louvre) which dates c. 1400. Many of the surviving Italian tondi depict themes that also occurred on the desco da parto, from which the tondo may have evolved. This was a circular or polygonal painted tray made to celebrate the birth of a child and presented to the mother with gifts of sweetmeats and fruit. Tondi paintings were produced in Florence primarily for domestic settings, with the Adoration of the Magi and the Virgin and Child being particularly popular subjects.

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Italian family of patrons. One of the most powerful merchant families of 15th-century Florence, the Tornabuoni were closely connected with the Medici. Both families were involved in banking and had literary and scholarly interests that brought them into association with the most distinguished humanist scholars of the day.

Donatella Pegazzano

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Tornabuoni, Lorenzo

(b Florence, 1465; d Florence, 1497). Son of Giovanni Tornabuoni. He married Giovanna degli Albizzi (1468–88) in 1486. As a cousin of Lorenzo the Magnificent he moved in Florentine Neo-Platonic circles. He was educated by Angelo Poliziano, who dedicated L’Ambra and La Selva to him.

Donatella Pegazzano

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Term used to define a picture consisting of three parts and denoting both the object itself and its compositional form. As an object the triptych may vary in size and material, but usually consists of a central panel flanked by wings (or shutters), which may be hinged; as a compositional form it is a tripartite structure, often with an emphasized central element. Although its imagery was, until the 19th century at least, predominantly religious, the object as such was not tied to a specific function.

Victor M. Schmidt

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Tura, Cosimo


(b Ferrara, ?1430; d Ferrara, April 1495).

Italian painter. He was court painter to the Este family of Ferrara from 1458 until the mid-1480s. He was the first and one of the greatest representatives of the Ferrarese school of painting, but many of his most important works, including the decoration of the library of Pico della Mirandola (1463–94), have been either destroyed or dismantled, and some of his large-scale altarpieces are divided between collections. His career is well recorded and provides a vivid illustration of the role and duties of a 15th-century court artist.

Kristen Lippincott

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Uccello, Paolo

[Paolo di Dono]

(b Florence, c. 1397; d Florence, 10 Dec 1475). Italian painter, draughtsman, mosaicist and designer of stained glass. His work vividly illustrates the principal issues of Florentine art during the first half of the 15th century. Trained within the tradition of the Late Gothic style, he eventually became a leading exponent of the application of linear perspective based on the mathematical system established by Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti. It is the merging of these two diametrically opposed tendencies that forms the basis of Uccello’s style. As well as painting on panel and in fresco (many of his works in this medium have been severely damaged), he was also a master mosaicist and produced designs for stained glass.

Christopher Lloyd

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Italian hilltop city in the Marches. Set in a relatively isolated position east of the Appenines, c. 12 km south-west of Pesaro, Urbino (population c. 16,000) achieved an extraordinary cultural importance in the 15th and 16th centuries, especially under the rule of Federigo II da Montefeltro, who built the great Palazzo Ducale that dominates the walled city.

Francesco Paolo Fiore

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Varchi, Benedetto

(b Florence, March 1503; d Florence, Dec 1565). Italian humanist and theorist. After travels in the 1530s during which he studied Aristotle and frequented the circle of Pietro Bembo he settled permanently in Florence in 1543. A chronicler and writer, he became one of the most active members of the Accademia Fiorentina, writing many commentaries on the works of Dante and Petrarch. He was in close contact with artists: he exchanged numerous sonnets with Agnolo Bronzino and Bartolomeo Ammanati and, according to Vasari, advised Niccolò Tribolo on iconographic matters. He also helped Benvenuto Cellini revise the manuscript of his Vita. Varchi’s writings on art comprise a short discourse of unknown date entitled Della beltà e grazia (‘Of beauty and grace’); two lectures delivered in 1547 in S Maria Novella, Florence, and published in 1549 as Due lezzioni; an unpublished treatise on proportion; and the funeral oration for Michelangelo (Florence, 1564).

François Quiviger

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Vasari, Giorgio

(b Arezzo, 30 July 1511; d Florence, 27 June 1574). Painter, draughtsman, architect, writer and collector. From a family of potters (vasaio, hence Vasari), Giorgio was the son of Antonio Vasari (d 1527) and Maddelena Tacci (d 1558). . . . Giorgio’s predilection for learned, allegorical subjects in his paintings and his ability to express himself in writing were unusual for a painter of his time. . . . Vasari’s Vite (Le vite de più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori  . . .) was published, amid widespread interest, in 1550, by the Florentine printer Lorenzo Torrentino (d 1563). The work, two volumes with more than a thousand pages, was dedicated to Cosimo I de’ Medici. It contains a general preface (proemio), an introduction to architecture, sculpture and painting, and three parts consisting of artists’ biographies, each with its own proemio. . . . Vasari’s fame rests principally on this book, of which the second, enlarged edition, published in 1568, was the basis of all subsequent editions and translations. For this work Vasari is considered the father of art history. The Vite is more than just a chronological sequence of biographies (as had already existed), it is the first critical history of artistic style.

Julian Kliemann

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Veronese, Paolo

Veronese [Caliari], Paolo

(b Verona, 1528; d Venice, 19 April 1588).

Italian painter and draughtsman. With Titian and Tintoretto he makes up the triumvirate of great painters of the late Renaissance in Venice. He is known as a supreme colourist and for his illusionistic decorations in both fresco and oil. His large paintings of biblical feasts executed for the refectories of monasteries in Venice and Verona are especially celebrated. He also produced many altarpieces, history and mythological paintings and portraits. His compositional sketches in pen, ink and wash, figure studies in chalk, and chiaroscuro modelli and ricordi form a significant body of drawings. He headed a family workshop that remained active after his death.

Diana Gisolfi

Verrocchio, Andrea del

[Andrea di Michele di Francesco Cioni]

(b Florence, 1435; d Venice, ?30 June 1488).

Italian sculptor, painter, draughtsman and goldsmith. He was the leading sculptor in Florence in the second half of the 15th century, and his highly successful workshop, in which Leonardo da Vinci trained, had a far-reaching impact on younger generations. A wide range of patrons, including the Medici family, the Venetian State and the city council of Pistoia, commissioned works from him. Exceptionally versatile, Verrocchio was talented both as a sculptor—of monumental bronzes, silver figurines and marble reliefs—and as a painter of altarpieces. He was inspired by the contemporary interest in the Antique and in the study of nature, yet, approaching almost every project as a new challenge, developed new conceptions that often defied both traditional aesthetics and conventional techniques.

Yael Even

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Publius Vergilius Maro (70–19 BC) was the greatest poet of the Latin Golden age and author of the Aeneid, which tells the story of the founding of Rome, after long trials, by the Trojan prince Aeneas. Tradition holds that the epic was commissioned by Augustus; it includes Augustan imagery and prophetic lines about the brilliance of Rome’s future under the first emperor. Other works include the Eclogues and the Georgics. Virgil was popular in the Middle Ages; many Christians found him more sympathetic than other ancient writers. Dante made Virgil his guide in Hell and Purgatory.


Italian dynasty of rulers and patrons. As Lords and later Dukes of Milan, they dominated the politics of North Italy from the mid-14th century to the mid-15th, when the related sforza dynasty succeeded to the duchy. From 1311 Matteo I Visconti (d 1322) held the joint offices of Captain General and Imperial Vicar of Milan and gained control of most of western Lombardy. In 1327 his son Galeazzo I Visconti (reg 1322–8) was expelled from Milan by Ludwig of Bavaria. Galeazzo’s son Azzo Visconti recovered the Imperial Vicariate in 1329 and subsequently regained control of the surrounding cities. Azzo was succeeded by his uncles Lucchino Visconti (reg 1339–49) and Giovanni Visconti, Archbishop of Milan (reg 1349–54).

Kay Sutton

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Warhol, Andy

(b Pittsburgh, PA, 6 Aug 1928; d New York, 22 Feb 1987). American painter, printmaker, sculptor, draughtsman, illustrator, filmmaker, writer and collector. After studying at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh from 1945 to 1949, he moved to New York and began working as a commercial artist and illustrator for magazines and newspapers. . . . Warhol continued to support himself through his commercial work until at least 1963, but from 1960 he determined to establish his name as a painter. Motivated by a desire to be taken as seriously as the young artists whose work he had recently come to know and admire, especially Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, he began by painting a series of pictures based on crude advertisements and on images from comic strips. These are among the earliest examples of Pop Art. . . . From autumn 1962 Warhol’s paintings were made almost exclusively by screenprinting photographic images on to backgrounds painted either in a single colour or in flat interlocking areas that corresponded approximately to the contours of the superimposed images. In these works, executed with the help of assistants in the studio that he called The Factory, he succeeded in removing his hand even more decisively from the canvas and in challenging the concept of the unique art work by repeating the same mechanically produced image until it appeared to be drained of all meaning.

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Women and collaborative practice

Feminist artistic collaboration grew out of the consciousness-raising practices that began in the late 1960s and the feminist education processes initiated in the 1970s. Conceiving of art as creative social action, women artists and non-artists came together to organize protests, to enact performances, to plan and build visual arts monuments and to found institutions that embodied, and continue to embody, what New York painter Miriam Schapiro called ‘the gold of sisterhood’. Because so many of the feminist collaborations of the late 20th century have been grassroots-initiated projects, and because the both the art market and the dominant art historical discourse continue to favour individual male genius over group efforts, this essay is by force partial and fragmentary. Nonetheless even this partial account reveals the remarkably exciting and innovative nature of feminist artistic collaboration.
Betty Ann Brown

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(fl late 5th century BC–early 4th). Greek painter. Zeuxis of Heracleia achieved wealth and fame as a painter in Athens around the time of the Peloponnesian Wars (431–404 BC). Pliny (Natural History XXXV.xxxvi.61) stated that Zeuxis began working in the fourth year of the 95th Olympiad (397 BC) and that writers who dated him to the 89th Olympiad (c. 424 BC) were mistaken. According to Pliny, Zeuxis was the pupil of either Demophilos of Himera or Neseus of Thasos. Both were active around 424 BC, perhaps explaining the confusion of other authors concerning Zeuxis’ own date. No paintings by Zeuxis survive, but ancient descriptions of his style suggest that he used painterly methods rather than line to create an illusion of three-dimensional form and depth.

Susan B. Matheson

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