As historical climatologists have not shown that Renaissance Italian winters and springs were warmer than they are now, it is puzzling that Italy did not fabricate tapestries to decorate and draught-proof the stony rooms of its palaces until 1545, when Cosimo I set up a manufactory in Florence. To hardiness or stinginess (tapestry was by far the most expensive form of wall decoration) we owe the existence of such secular frescoed decorative schemes as the labours of the months in the castle at Trent (c. 1407), the Arthurian scenes of Pisanello and the courtly ones of Mantegna in the Ducal Palace of Mantua, the delicious calendar fantasies of Cossa and others in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara - and, doubtless, many others that await liberation from whitewash or later panelling. These are all in situations where northern patrons would have used tapestries.
These were imported, chiefly from Flanders, into Italy. The influence of their hunting and ceremonial scenes in particular registered on Italian 'gothic' painting or illumination and stained glass, and in literature. But the Italians did not make them. The most famous of all 'Italian' tapestries, those for the Sistine Chapel designed by Raphael, were made in Brussels from the full-scale coloured patterns, or cartoons, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Nor is it clear whether imported tapestries were used habitually or simply to add grandeur to special occasions. Even when Cosimo's manufactory was in being, and working from designs by court artists of the calibre of Bronzino, Salviati and Allori, his own headquarters, the Palace of the Signoria (now the Palazzo Vecchio), was being decorated with frescoes. The subject is underexplored.
A method of painting in which the pigments are mixed with an emulsion of water and egg yolks or whole eggs (sometimes glue or milk). Tempera was widely used in Italian art in the 14th and 15th centuries, both for panel painting and fresco, then being replaced by oil paint. Tempera colors are bright and translucent, though because the paint dried very quickly there is little time to blend them, graduated tones being created by adding lighter or darker dots or lines of color to an area of dried paint.
A style of painting especially associated with the Italian painter Caravaggio and his followers in which most of the figures are engulfed in shadow but some are dramatically illuminated by a concentrated beam of light usually from an identifiable source.
Unglazed fired clay. It is used for architectural features and ornaments, vessels, and sculptures.
The mainland forming part of the Venetian Doge's sovereign territory, i.e. the strip of coastline immediately next to the lagoon.
Term used for a coin on which a head appears, sometimes called a tester in English.
Group of American painters who exhibited together only once, in New York City in 1908, but who established one of the main currents in 20th-century American painting. The original Eight included Robert Henri, leader of the group, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, Arthur B. Davies, Ernest Lawson, Maurice Prendergast, George Luks, and William J. Glackens. George Bellows later joined them. The group’s determination to bring art into closer touch with everyday life greatly influenced the course of American art.
artistic term denoting a particular angle from which the human face is depicted. Depending on how far the head is turned away from a fully frontal angle en face, the picture is described as three-quarter face (in which a good deal of the face can be seen), quarter face, and profile.
A circular painting or relief sculpture. The tondo derives from classical medallions and was used in the Renaissance as a compositional device for creating an ideal visual harmony. It was particularly popular in Florence and was often used for depictions of the Madonna and Child.
The craft of cutting bushes and trees into decorative shapes, usually those of animals or geometrical forms. triumphal arch, in the architecture of ancient Rome, a large and usually free-standing ceremonial archway built to celebrate a military victory. Often decorated with architectural features and relief sculptures, they usually consisted of a large archway flanked by two smaller ones. The triumphal archway was revived during the Renaissance, though usually as a feature of a building rather than as an independent structure. In Renaissance painting they appear as allusion to classical antiquity.
In literature, figure of speech; in art, widely used form, model, theme or motif.
the geometrical architectural ornamentation which is used in Gothic architecture to subdivide the upper parts of the arches belonging to large windows, and later to subdivide gable ends, walls, and other surfaces.
A monumental column erected in Rome in 113 AD to commemorate the deeds of Emperor Trajan. Around its entire length is carved a continuous spiral band of low relief sculptures depicting Trajan's exploits.
Three-apsed building, usually having a cross plan in which one arm of the cross is a flat-ended narthex and the remaining three arms terminate in apses.
in Christianity, the term used for the existence of one God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
A painting in three sections, usually an altarpiece, consisting of a central panel and two outer panels, or wings. In many medieval triptychs the two outer wings were hinged so that could be closed over the center panel. Early triptychs were often portable.
With growing interest from the early 14th century in the history of ancient Rome came a fascination with the city's conquests, the wars by which they were won - and the ceremony which marked their success: the victor's triumph. The knowledge that the privilege of being commemorated by one of these enormous and costly processions of warriors, loot and prisoners was given sparingly, only to the sole commander of a major victory over a foreign army of whom at least 5000 were slain, added to the glamour of the triumph. Its centrepiece was the chariot of the victor himself. Dante gave one to Beatrice in Purgatorio XXIX: 'Rome upon Africanus ne'er conferred / Nor on Augustus's self, a car so brave'. But it was tentatively with the relief carvings on the Triumphal Arch (1452-66) at Castelnuovo in Naples commemorating Alfonso the Magnanimous, and finally with Mantegna's superb Triumph of Caesar cartoons (Hampton Court), that the visual reconstruction of a Roman triumph became complete.
Meanwhile, in an age which did not like the idea of large numbers of victory-flushed soldiers parading through its streets, the military triumph became sublimated, as it were, into a number of less controversial forms. This was largely under the influence of Petrarch's 'Trionfi' - poems describing the processions commemorating the triumphs of love, chastity, death; fame, time and eternity. Disseminated soon after his death, they soon appeared in illuminated manuscripts, and the triumph scene became a popular one for woodcuts, decorated marriage chests and other paintings, most beautifully of all on the backs of Piero della Francesca's portraits of Federigo da Montefeltro and his wife, Battista Sforza. Other 'triumphs' were invented: of the seasons, of virtues and of the arts. Nor was the theme allowed to be simply a profane one. Just before his death Savonarola published his 'Triumph of the Cross', in which the reader was invited to imagine 'a four-wheeled chariot on which is seated Christ as Conqueror.' Before it go the apostles, patriarchs and prophets, beside it the army of martyrs, behind it, after 'a countless number of virgins, of both sexes', come the prisoners: 'the serried ranks of the enemies of the Church of Christ.' This aspect of the theme was magnificently realized in Titian's great woodcut 'The Triumph of the Faith'.
In the architecture of ancient Rome, a large and usually free-standing ceremonial archway built to celebrate a military victory. Often decorated with architectural features and relief sculptures, they usually consisted of a large archway flanked by two smaller ones. The triumphal archway was revived during the Renaissance, though usually as a feature of a building rather than as an independent structure. In Renaissance painting they appear as allusion to classical antiquity.
A type of painting which, through various naturalistic devices, creates the illusion that the objects depicted are actually there in front of us. Dating from classical times, tromp l'oeil was revived in the 15th century and became a distinctive feature of 17th-century Dutch painting.
Stone pillar or column supporting the lintel of a monumental portal at its centre, it is usually decorated with carvings.
An obscure Welsh family, first recorded in 1232, that seized the English throne in 1485 by defeating the Yorkist king Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. Lancastrian Henry VII was its first crowned representative, marrying Richard's niece Elizabeth of York and thus symbolically ending the dynastic wars of the Roses. The Tudor dynasty lasted until 1603 (death of Elizabeth I). Tudor is also the name of a transitional Late Gothic building style during the reigns of the two Henrys. It incorporates Renaissance features.
A thick, viscous black ink.
In classical architecture, the triangular area enclosed by a pediment, often decorated with sculptures. In medieval architecture, the semi-circular area over a a door's lintel, enclosed by an arch, often decorated with sculptures or mosaics.
A system of classification. In Christian thought, the drawing of parallels between the Old Testament and the New. Typological studies were based on the assumption that Old Testament figures and events prefigured those in the New, e.g. the story of Jonah and the whale prefigured Christ's death and resurrection. Such typological links were frequently used in both medieval and Renaissance art.
Assassination of rulers (often in church, where they were most accessible, and often by cadets of their family) had long played an important part in the Italian political process. From the end of the 14th century these deeds came frequently to be gilded by biblical and classical references: to the precedents of Brutus (condenmed by Dante as an arch-traitor, then raised by such republican enthusiasts as Michclangelo to heroic stature), Judith, killer of Holofernes, and David, slayer of Goliath. So the killing of Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1476) was carried out by three Milanesi patricians inspired in part by the teachings of the humanist Cola Montano, while the Pazzi conspiracy in Florence was seen by Alamanno Rinuccini as an emulation of ancient glory. Intellectuals who combined a taste for violence with a classicizing republicanism featured largely too in the plots of Stefano Porcari against Nicholas V (1453), of the Roman Academy against Paul II (1468), and of Pietro Paolo Boscoli against the Medici in 1513.
The Renaissance "universal man", a many-talented man with a broad-ranging knowledge of both the arts and the sciences.
Principally a group of three Dutch painters - Dirck van Baburen (c. 1590-1624), Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656), and Hendrik Terbrugghen (1588-1629) - who went to Rome and fell fully under the pervasive influence of Caravaggio's art before returning to Utrecht. Although none of them ever actually met Caravaggio (d. 1610), each had access to his paintings, knew his former patrons, and was influenced by the work of his follower Bartholomeo Manfredi (1580-1620/21), especially his half-length figural groups, which were boldly derived from Caravaggio and occasionally passed off as the deceased master's works.
Back in the Netherlands the "Caravaggisti" were eager to demonstrate what they had learned. Their subjects are frequently religious ones, but brothel scenes and pictures in sets, such as five works devoted to the senses, were popular with them also. The numerous candles, lanterns, and other sources of artificial light are characteristic and further underscore the indebtedness to Caravaggio.
Although Honthorst enjoyed the widest reputation at the time, painting at both the Dutch and English courts, Terbrugghen is generally regarded as the most talented and versatile of the group.
In perspective, the point on the horizon at which sets of lines representing parallel lines will converge.
A painting (or element in painting) that acts as a reminder of the inevitabiliry of death, and the pointlessness of earthly ambitions and achievements. Common vanitas-symbols include skulls, guttering candles, hour-glasses and clocks, overturned vessels, and even flowers (which will soon fade). The vanitas theme became popular during the Baroque, with the vanitas still life flourishing in Dutch art.
In Renaissance art theory, a work's richness of subject matter. Also varietas (Lat.).
A roof or ceiling whose structure is based on the arch. There are a wide range of forms, including the barrel (or tunnel) vault, formed by a continuous semi-circular arch; the groin vault, formed when two barrel vaults intersect; and the rib vault, consistong of a framework of diagonal ribs supporting interlocking arches. The development of the various forms was of great structural and aesthetic importance in the development of church architecture during the Middle Ages.
a primarily topographical representation of a town or landscape that is depicted in such a life-like manner that the location can be identified.
Refers to lacquer (coating) produced in France during the 18th century in imitation of Japanese and Chinese lacquers. The basic ingrediant in copal varnish with powdered metal, often gold, mixed in. It was developed by and named for the Martin brothers, Parisian craftsmen, it was used to decorate furniture, carriages, snuff boxes and other objects.
Prayers said in the evening; the church service at which these prayers are said. The Marian Vespers are prayers and meditations relating to the Virgin Mary.
The anteroom or entrance hall of a building. In ancient Roman dwellings, the vestibule was situated before the entrance to the house.
The Way of the Cross. The route taken by Christ in the Passion on the way to Golgotha. The route is marked by the 14 Stations of the Cross.
In the medieval and Renaissance Christianity there were seven principal virtues and seven principal vices, a classification that brought together both ideals of both Christianity and classical Antiquity. Personifications of both appear in medieval and Renaissance art. The seven Vices (also known as the seven Deadly Sins) were: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Envy, Gluttony, and Sloth. The seven Virtues were: Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Temperance, Prudence, and Justice.
Of German origin, "not exposed to winds". Gothic decorative attic over doors and windows. Attics with tracery in the shape of isosceles triangles are decorated with crockets and cornices, and wooden towers are decorated with finials at the top.
The Italian word commonly means 'virtue' in the sense of Hamlet's admonition to his mother, 'Assume a virtue, if you have it not', but during the Renaissance it increasingly carried the force of Edmund Burke's 'I have in general no very exalted opinion of the virtue of paper government', in which the word signifies efficacy, actual or latent. Under the influence of the classical 'virtus', 'excellence' (with a strongly virile connotation), virtù could be used, as it most frequently was by Machiavelli, for example, to convey an inherently gifted activism especially in statecraft or military affairs; to possess virtù was a character trait distinguishing the energetic, even reckless (but not feckless) man from his conventionally virtuous counterpart, rendering him less vulnerable to the quirks of Fortuna.
An account of someone's life and work, a biography. The best-known writer of the vita in the Renaissance was Vasari, whose Le vite de'più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architetti italiani ("Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Painters, Sculptors and Architects"), published in 1550 and 1568, provides detailed accounts of the lives of many of the most important artists of the Renaissance.
Roman architect whose ten books of architecture formed the basis of Renaissance architectural theory.
A spiral scroll found particularly on (Ionic) capitals and gables, as a transition between horizontal and vertical elements.
A picture or panel donated because of a sacred promise, usually when a prayer for good fortune, protection from harm, or recovery from illness has been made.
In spite of the endemic warfare which characterized Italy from the 14th century to the Peace of Lodi in 1454, and the occasional wars thereafter (e.g. those of Volterera, 1472, of the Papacy and Naples against Florence, 1478-80, and of Ferrara, 1482-84), by general consensus the Wars of Italy are held to be those that began in 1494 with Charles VIII'S invasion of the peninsula, came virtually to an end with the Habsburg-Valois treaties of Barcelona and Cambrai in 1529, and were finally concluded with the European settlement of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559.
The wars from 1494 do, in fact, fall into a different category from those that preceded them. Campaign followed campaign on a scale and with an unremittingness sharply different from those which had interrupted the post-Lodi peacefulness. Though foreign intervention in Italian affairs was certainly no novelty, the peninsula had never before been seen so consistently by dynastic contenders as both prize and arena. No previous series of combats had produced such lasting effects: the subjection of Milan and Naples to direct Spanish rule and the ossification of politics until the arrival in 1796 of a new Charles VIII in the person of Napoleon Bonaparte. The wars were also recognized as different in kind from their predecessors by those who lived through them: 'before. 1494' and 'after 1494' became phrases charged with nostalgic regret for, and appalled recognition of, the demoted status of the previously quarrelsome but in the main independent comity of peninsular powers. And because the wars forced the rest of western Europe into new alliances and a novel diplomatic closeness, they were from the 18th century until comparatively recently seen as marking the turn from medieval to recognizably modern political times.
The wars, then, were caused by foreign intervention. In these terms they can be chronicled with some brevity. After crossing the Alps in 1494 Charles VIII conquered the kingdom of Naples and retired in 1495, leaving the kingdom garrisoned. The garrisons were attacked later in the same year by Spanish troops under Gonzalo de Cordoba, sent by King Ferdinand II of Aragon (who was also King of Sicily). With this assistance Naples was restored to its native Aragonese dynasty. In 1499 the new King of France, Louis XII, assumed the title Duke of Milan (inherited through his grandfather's marriage to a Visconti) and occupied the duchy, taking over Genoa later in the same year. In 1501 a joint Franco-Spanish expedition reconquered the kingdom of Naples. The allies then fell out and fought one another. By January 1504 Spain controlled the whole southern kingdom, leaving France in control of Milan and Genoa in the north. A third foreign power, the German Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I entered the arena in 1508 with an abortive invasion of the Veronese-Vicentino. He countered the rebuff by joining the allies of the anti-Venetian League of Cambrai: France and Aragon assisted by Pope Julius II and the rulers of Mantua and Ferrara. In 1509 their victory at Agnadello led to the occupation of the whole of the Venetian terraferma apart from Treviso.
The eastward extension of French power gained by this victory (won by a mainly French army) drove Julius and Ferdinand to turn against Louis and in 1512 the French - now also under pressure from a fourth foreign power interesting itself in Italian territory, the Swiss - were forced to evacuate their possessions in Lombardy. Louis's last invasion of the Milanese was turned back in 1513 at the battle of Novara and the duchy was restored to its native dynasty, the Sforza, in the person of Massimiliano; he ruled, however, under the supervision of Milan's real masters, the Swiss. In 1515, with a new French king, Francis I, came a new invasion and a successful one: the Swiss were defeated at Marignano and Massimiliano ceded his title to Francis. To confirm his monopoly of foreign intervention in the north Francis persuaded Maximilian I to withdraw his garrisons from Venetian territory, thus aiding the Republic to complete the recovery of its terraferma.
With the spirit of the Swiss broken, the death of Ferdinand in 1516 and of Maximilian I in 1519 appeared to betoken an era of stability for a peninsula that on the whole took Spanish rule in the south and French in the north-west for granted. However, on Maximilian's death his grandson Charles, who had already become King of Spain in succession to Ferdinand, was elected Emperor as Charles V; Genoa and Milan formed an obvious land bridge between his Spanish and German lands, and a base for communications and troop movements thence to his other hereditary possessions in Burgundy and the Netherlands. Equally, it was clear to Francis I that his Italian territories were no longer a luxury, but strategically essential were his land frontier not to be encircled all the way from Provence to Artois. Spanish, German and French interests were now all centred on one area of Italy and a new phase of the wars began.
Between 1521 and 1523 the French were expelled from Genoa and the whole of the Milanese. A French counter-attack late in 1523, followed by a fresh invasion in 1524 under Francis himself, led, after many changes of fortune, to the battle of Pavia in 1525; not only were the French defeated, but Francis himself was sent as a prisoner to Spain, and released in 1526 only on condition that he surrender all claims to Italian territory. But by now political words were the most fragile of bonds. Francis allied himself by the Treaty of Cognac to Pope Clement VII, previously a supporter of Charles but, like Julius II in 1510, dismayed by the consequences of what he had encouraged, and the Milanese once more became a theatre of war. In 1527, moreover, the contagion spread, partly by mischance - as when the main Imperial army, feebly led and underpaid, put loot above strategy and proceeded to the Sack of Rome, and partly by design - as when, in a reversion to the policy of Charles VIII, a French army marched to Naples, having forced the Imperial garrison out of Genoa on the way and secured the city's navy, under Andrea Doria, as an ally. In July 1528 it was Doria who broke what had become a Franco-Imperial stalemate by going over to the side of the Emperor and calling off the fleet from its blockade of Naples, thus forcing the French to withdraw from the siege of a city now open to Spanish reinforcements.
By 1529, defeated in Naples and winded in Milan, Francis at last allowed his ministers to throw in the sponge. The Treaty of Barcelona, supplemented by that of Cambrai, confirmed the Spanish title to Naples and the cessation of French pretensions to Milan, which was restored (though the Imperial leading strings were clearly visible) to the Sforza claimant, now Francesco II. Thereafter, though Charles took over the direct government of Milan through his son Philip on Francesco's death in 1535, and Francis I in revenge occupied Savoy and most of Piedmont in the following year, direct foreign intervention in Italy was limited to the localized War of Siena. In 1552 the Sienese expelled the garrison Charles maintained there as watchdog over his communications between Naples and Milan, and called on French support. As an ally of Charles, but really on his own account, Cosimo I, Duke of Florence, took the city after a campaign that lasted from 1554 to 1555. But in the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis of 1559, by which France yet again, and now finally, renounced Italian interests, Cosimo was forced to grant Charles the right to maintain garrisons in Siena's strategic dependencies, Orbetello, Talamone and Porto Ercole.
The Wars of Italy, though caused by foreign interventions, involved and were shaped by the invitations, self-interested groupings and mutual treacheries of the Italian powers themselves. At the beginning, Charles VIII was encouraged by the Duke of Milan, Lodovico Sforza, jealous of the apparently expanding diplomatic influence of Naples, as well as by exiles and malcontents (including the future Julius II) who thought that a violent tap on the peninsular kaleidoscope might provide space for their own ambitions. And the 1529 Treaty of Cambrai did not put an end to the local repercussions of the Franco Imperial conflict. France's ally Venice only withdrew from the kingdom of Naples after the subsequent (December 1529) settlement negotiated at Bologna. It was not until August 1530 that the Last Florentine Republic gave in to the siege by the Imperialist army supporting the exiled Medici. The changes of heart and loyalty on the part of Julius II in 1510 and Clement VII in 1526 are but illustrations of the weaving and reweaving of alliances that determined the individual fortunes of the Italian states within the interventionist framework: no précis can combine them.
A final point may, however, be made. Whatever the economic and psychological strain produced in individual states by their involvement, and the consequential changes in their constitutions or masters, no overall correlation between the Wars and the culture of Italy can be made. The battles were fought in the countryside and peasants were the chief sufferers from the campaigns. Sieges of great cities were few, and, save in the cases of Naples in 1527-28 and Florence in 1529-30, short. No planned military occasion had so grievious effect as did the Sack of Rome, which aborted the city's cultural life for a decade.
Conflict between Pope Gregory XI and an Italian coalition headed by Florence, which resulted in the return of the papacy from Avignon to Rome. In 1375, provoked by the aggressiveness of the Pope's legates in Italy, Florence incited a widespread revolt in the Papal States. The Pope retaliated by excommunicating the Florentines (March 1376), but their war council, the Otto di Guerra (popularly known as the Eight Saints), continued to defy him. In 1377 Gregory sent an army under Cardinal Robert of Geneva to ravage the areas in revolt, while he himself returned to Italy to secure his possession of Rome. Thus ended the papacy's 70-year stay in France. The war ended with a compromise peace concluded at Tivoli in July 1378.
Pigment ground in gum, usually gum arabic, and applied with brush and water to a painting surface, usually paper; the term also denotes a work of art executed in this medium. The pigment is ordinarily transparent but can be made opaque by mixing with a whiting and in this form is known as body colour, or gouache; it can also be mixed with casein, a phosphoprotein of milk.
Watercolour compares in range and variety with any other painting method. Transparent watercolour allows for a freshness and luminosity in its washes and for a deft calligraphic brushwork that makes it a most alluring medium. There is one basic difference between transparent watercolour and all other heavy painting mediums - its transparency. The oil painter can paint one opaque colour over another until he has achieved his desired result. The whites are created with opaque white. The watercolourist's approach is the opposite. In essence, instead of building up he leaves out. The white paper creates the whites. The darkest accents may be placed on the paper with the pigment as it comes out of the tube or with very little water mixed with it. Otherwise the colours are diluted with water. The more water in the wash, the more the paper affects the colours; for example, vermilion, a warm red, will gradually turn into a cool pink as it is thinned with more water.
The dry-brush technique - the use of the brush containing pigment but little water, dragged over the rough surface of the paper - creates various granular effects similar to those of crayon drawing. Whole compositions can be made in this way. This technique also may be used over dull washes to enliven them.
A comprehensive world view, a philosophy of life.
German word, "Western work of art". Central space at the Western façade of medieval cathedrals vaulted on the ground floor, pompous on the floor above. It was intended to have a variety of functions, but it was associated with the emperor or aristocrats: it served as a chapel, gallery, treasury or a place where justice was administered.
craftsmen who carved the work into the wood block according to the design drawn on it. While they are not usually identified by name in the early period and are difficult to distinguish from the artist producing the design, they were responsible for the artistic quality of the print.
A print made from a wood block. The design is drawn on a smooth block of wood and then cut out, leaving the design standing up in relief the design to be printed. The person who carved the woodcut often worked to a design by another artist.
X-ray photos are used to examine the undersurfaces of a painting. They allow scholars to see what changes were made during the original painting or by other hands, usually restorers, during its subsequent history.
Ornament, usually linear, based on stylization of various animal forms.