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Glossary of the arts. Part 1

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- Alfred Adler
- Aristotle
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- Deja Vu
- War of the Worlds, and the invasio from mars



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Part 1: A/G - Part 2: H/P - Part 3: Q/Z


acanthus (Lat. acanthus Gk. Akantha, "thorn")

a thistle species very common in the Mediterranean. Its large, jagged leaves, curving in slightly at the tips, have been a favorite ornamental pattern since classical antiquity.


A shrine or niche framed by two columns, piers, or pilasters carrying an entablature and pediment (triangular or segmental).

aerial perspective

A way of suggesting the far distance in a landscape by using paler colours (sometimes tinged with blue), less pronounced tones, and vaguer forms.

alb (Lat. alba tunica, "white garment")

the white, ankle-length garment worn by priests during Mass, under the stole and chasuble.

all' antica (It. "from the antique")

(of an art work) based on or influenced by classical Greek or Roman art.

allegory (Gk. allegorein, "say differently")

A work of art which represents some abstract quality or idea, either by means of a single figure (personification) or by grouping objects and figures together. Renaissance allegories make frequent allusions both to both Greek and Roman legends and literature, and also to the wealth of Christian allegorical stories and symbols developed during the Middle Ages.


A picture or sculpture that stands on or is set up behind an altar. The term reredos is used for an ornamental screen or partition, not directly attached to the altar table but affixed to the wall behind it. A diptych is an altarpiece consisting of two panels, a triptych one of three panels, and a polyptych one of four or more panels.

From the 14th to 16th century, the altarpiece was one of the most important commissions in European art; it was through the altarpiece that some of the most decisive developments in painting and sculpture came about.


Device commonly used in 16th-century paintings and drawings whereby a figure or object is depicted not parallel to the pictorial plane but projected at an oblique angle to it, and so highly distorted. The viewer resolves the optical distortion of form that results by looking at the picture at the same oblique angle.

Anghiari, battle of

A Florentine and papal army defeated a Milanese force under Piccinino outside this town near Arezzo (29 June 1440). Macchiavelli, in his History of Florence, used it shamelessly as an example of the reluctance of mercenaries to risk death in battle: he put the casualties as 'one man killed, and he fell off his horse and was trampled to death', whereas sources available to him put the joint fatalities at some 300. It was a subject of a fresco painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (chosen because it was primarily a cavalry engagement and he could show horses in combat). The fresco rapidly decayed and its composition is best known from the sketch Rubens made of its central part.


the term for the event described in the Gospel according to St. Luke, when the Angel Gabriel brings the Virgin Mary the news that she is to bear her son, Jesus Christ. The Annunciation was among the most widespread pictorial subjects of European art during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Antique, Classical world (Lat. antiquus, "old")

the classical age of Greece and Rome began with the Greek migrations of the 2nd millennium BC, and ended in the West in 476 AD with the deposition of the Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus (c. 475 AD); in the East it ended in 529 AD when the Platonic Academy was closed by Justinian (482 - 565 AD).

Antwerp Mannerists

Group of Antwerp painters of the early 16th century whose work is characterized by Italianate ornamentation and affected attitudes. Unconnected with later Mannerism.

Apelles (c. 330 BC)

one of the most famous painters of ancient Greece, noted above all for his startling realism. Painters of the Renaissance tried to reconstruct some of his compositions, which have come down to us in written accounts only.

Apocalypse (Gk. apokalyptein, "reveal")

the Revelation of St John, the last book of the New Testament. The wrath of God descending upon the earth is depicted in three visions; in the form of terrible natural catastrophes, in the battle between the forces and good and evil, and in the union of a new Heaven and new Earth in the Heavenly Jerusalem. The announcement of the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the world was intended to console the persecuted Christians and also prepare them for the horrors connected with the event.

Apocalyptic Madonna

the depiction of the Virgin Mary as the "Apocalyptic Woman" mentioned in the Revelation of St. John (Chapter 12, verse 1). She is "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars"; she is described as pregnant, and her enemy is a dragon. In the wake of Mariological interpretations of this passage, Gothic art increasingly gave the Woman of the Apocalypse the features of the Virgin Mary, and after the l4th century the devoted relationship of mother and child was emphasized in depictions of the Apocalyptic Madonna, with reference to the Biblical Song of Songs.

Apocrypha (Gk. apokryphos, "hidden")

Jewish or Christian additions to the Old and New Testaments excluded from the Canon.

Apostle (Gk. apostolos, "messenger")

one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, chosen personally by him from amongst his large crowd of followers in order to continue his work and preach the gospels.

applied art

Term describing the design or decoration of functional objects so as to make them aesthetically pleasing. It is used in distinction to fine art, although there is often no clear dividing line between the two terms.

apse (Lat. absis, "arch, vault")

A semicircular projection, roofed with a half-dome, at the east end of a church behind the altar. Smaller subsidiary apses may be found around the choir or transepts. Also known as an exedra. The adjective is apsidal.

An engraving method related to etching but producing finely granulated tonal areas rather than lines. The term applies also to a print made by this method. There are several variants of the technique, but in essence the process is as follows. A metal plate is sprinkled with acid-resistant varnish, which is fused to the plate by heating, and when the plate is immersed in an acid bath the acid bites between the tiny particles of resin and produces an evenly granulated surface. The design is created by drawing on the plate with add-resistant varnish, and great variety of tone can be obtained by immersing in acid and varnishing in turn (the longer the add bites, the darker the tone). Aquatint was invented around the middle of the 18th century, and in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was highly popular in England for reproducing watercolours (colour could be added by hand or by using several plates with different coloured inks). It has also been used as an original creative medium (sometimes in conjunction with other graphic techniques) by many distinguished artists, including Goya, Degas, Picasso, and Rouault.

A series of arches supported by columns, piers or pillars. In a blind arcade the arches are built into a wall.

A mountainous area of Greece. In Greek and Roman literature, a place where a contented life of rural simplicity is lived; an earthly paradise peopled by shepherds.

The pointed arch is widely regarded as the main identifiable feature of Gothic architecture (distinct from the round arch of the Romanesque period). The three most common Gothic arches are the Equilateral, Lancet and Tudor.

Relating to structure, design, or organization.

In classical architecture, the main beam resting on the capitals of the columns (i.e. the lowest part of the entablature); the moulding around a window or door.

a set of concentric and projecting moldings with which the face of an arch is decorated. In Early Netherlandish art the archivolt is often depicted showing sculpted scenes relating to the central subject of a painting.

a small book on death; Late Medieval devotional tracts which described the battles between Heaven and Hell for the souls of the dying and recommended to Christians the proper way to behave at the hour of their death.

A symbolic object which is conventionally used to identify a particular person, usually a saint. In the case of martyrs, it is usually the nature of their martyrdom.

A classic statement of Lutheran doctrine, drawn up largely by Philipp Melanchthon and approved by Luther himself. It was presented to Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg 1530.

a halo or "glory" enclosing the head or sometimes the whole body of a holy person.

Autobiography as a distinct literary genre was one of the more original products of the Renaissance; there had been relatively little of it in antiquity and even less in the Middle Ages. The Confessions of St Augustine provided the example of an inward autobiography - the story of the author's search for God - but no imitator was able to approach its level of introspection until Petrarch's Letter to posterity and Secretum. Dante's Vita nuova - and the Comedy - are intensely autobiographical but are not autobiographies.

The roots of the secular autobiography are to be found in the books of ricordanze (memoranda) kept by Italian professional and business men from the late 13th century. From bare accounts of land purchases and marriage settlements, these personal notebooks could develop into family histories which might also contain soul-searching and self examinations, like those of the early 15th century Florentine merchants Goro Dati and Giovanni Morelli, or the Zibaldone quaresimale of Giovanni Rucellai (1457-85). Records of business ventures and public offices were the starting point for autobiographies of external action: while the Cronica of Jacopo Salviati is a fairly wooden account of captaincies and embassies 1398-1411, that of Buonaccorso Pitti is a lively narrative of fortunes won and lost through trading and gambling (written 1412-22). The Commentaries of Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Pius II) similarly concentrate on events, leaving the character of the author to be deduced from his actions. The supreme example of the (apparently) unconsciously revealing autobiography is the famous Life of Cellini: of the deliberately revealing one, that of Cardano.

The decision to move the Papacy here was made in August 1308 by Pope Clement V, who had been residing in France since 1305. The actual move was made in 1309. Six pontificates later, in 1377, the Papacy was brought back to Rome by Gregory XI. All the popes elected at Avignon were French, as were 113 of the 134 cardinals appointed during this time. Yet though the period has been called one of 'captivity' to France, the Avignonese residence was not one of uninterrupted truckling to French kings. The city was not on French territory: it belonged to the Angevin princes of Naples. 'Captivity', like Petrarch's 'unholy Babylon', which he likened to the harlot of the Apocalypse 'full of abominations and the filth of her fornication', was mainly a term of abuse directed at a Papacy that had acquired security enough to revive its legal and financial pretensions and to build lavishly and live well. Between 1100 and 1309 the popes had only spent 82 years in Rome. Avignon gave them a long breathing space to assemble the machinery and the values which characterized the Renaissance Papacy after its final resettlement in Rome.



In Greek and Roman mythology, the god of wine and fertility. Bacchic rites were often orgiastic.

baldachin, or baldacchino (It. "brocade")

Originally a textile canopy supported on poles and carried dignitaries and relics. Later, an architectural canopy of stone or wood set over a high altar or bishop's throne.


A rail supported by a row of small posts or open-work panels.


Group of relatively small, often anecdotal, paintings of everyday life, made in Rome in the mid-17th century. The word derives from the nickname "Il Bamboccio" ("Large Baby"), applied to the physically malformed Dutch painter Pieter van Laer (1592/95-1642). Generally regarded as the originator of the style and its most important exponent, van Laer arrived in Rome from Haarlem about 1625 and was soon well known for paintings in which his Netherlandish interest in the picturesque was combined with the pictorial cohesiveness of Caravaggio's dramatic tenebrist lighting. Because van Laer and his followers depicted scenes of the Roman lower classes in a humorous or even grotesque fashion, their works were condemned by both court critics and the leading painters of the classicist-idealist school as indecorous and ridiculous. The painter Salvator Rosa was particularly savage in his comments about the later followers of the style, whom he criticized for painting "baggy pants, beggars in rags, and abject filthy things." The Bamboccianti (painters of Bambocciati) influenced such Dutch genre painters as Adriaen Brouwer and Adriaen van Ostade.

banderole (It. banderuola, "small flag")

A long flag or scroll (usually forked at the end) bearing an inscription. In Renaissance art they are often held by angels.


Hall or chapel situated close to, or connected with, a church, in which the sacrament of baptism is administered. The form of the baptistery originally evolved from small, circular Roman buildings that were designated for religious purposes (e.g., the Temple of Venus, Baalbek, Lebanon, AD 273, and the Mausoleum of Diocletian, Spalato [Split, Croatia], AD 300); but because baptism originally was performed on only three holidays, Easter, Pentecost, and Epiphany, enlargement of the older Roman buildings became necessary to accommodate the growing numbers of converts.

Baptisteries were among the most symbolic of all Christian architectural forms; and the characteristic design that was developed by the 4th century AD can be seen today in what is probably the earliest extant example, the baptistery of the Lateran palace in Rome, built by Sixtus III, pope between 432 and 440.

The baptistery was commonly octagonal in plan, a visual metaphor for the number eight, which symbolized in Christian numerology a new beginning. As eight follows the "complete" number, seven, so the beginning of the Christian life follows baptism. Customarily, a baptistery was roofed with a dome, the symbol of the heavenly realm toward which the Christian progresses after the first step of baptism. The baptismal font was usually octagonal, set beneath a domical ciborium, or canopy, and encircled by columns and an ambulatory--features that were first used in the baptistery by the Byzantines when they altered Roman structures.

Baptisteries commonly adjoined the atrium, or forecourt, of the church and were often large and richly decorated, such as those at Pisa, Florence, Parma, and Nocera in Italy; el Kantara, Alg.; and Poitiers, France. After the 6th century they were gradually reduced to the status of small chapels inside churches. In the 10th century, when baptism by affusion (pouring liquid over the head) became standard practice in the church, baptisteries, or baptismal chapels, were often omitted entirely.

In most modern churches the font alone serves for baptism; something of earlier symbolism survives, however, in its usual location near the church door - an allusion to entering the Christian life.

The period in art history from about 1600 to about 1750. In this sense the term covers a wide range of styles and artists. In painting and sculpture there were three main forms of Baroque: (1) sumptuous display, a style associated with the Catholic Counter Reformation and the absolutist courts of Europe (Bernini, Rubens); (2) dramatic realism (Caravaggio); and (3) everyday realism, a development seen in particular in Holland (Rembrandt, Vermeer). In architecture, there was an emphasis on expressiveness and grandeur, achieved through scale, the dramatic use of light and shadow, and increasingly elaborate decoration. In a more limited sense the term Baroque often refers to the first of these categories.

The development of the Baroque reflects the period's religious tensions (Catholic versus Protestant); a new and more expansive world view based on science and exploration; and the growth of absolutist monarchies.

A ceiling that is like a continuous circular arch or tunnel, contrasted with vaults that are supported on ribs or a series of arches. Also tunnel vault.

a church building, usually facing east, with a tall main nave and two or four side aisles of lesser height. There may also be a transept between the nave and the choir, which is reserved for the clergy. Originally, the basilica was an ancient Greek administrative building, and the Romans used this form for markets and law courts; it then became a place of assembly for the early Christians, and thus a church.

Term applied to a style characteristic of much German and Austrian art and interior decoration in the period roughly between the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815) and the Year of Revolutions (1848). The name derives from a fictional character called Gottlieb Biedermaier (sic) from the journal Fliegende Elssner (Flying Leaves), who personified the solid yet philistine qualities of the bourgeois middle classes, and the art to which he lent his name eschewed flights of the imagination in favour of sobriety, domesticity, and often sentimentality. There were, as is to be expected, no major painters associated with Biedermeier but many excellent practitioners, such as Waldmüller. The term is sometimes extended to cover the work of artists in other countries.

Unglazed ceramic, particularly porcelain, which is either not yet glazed, or which is to be left as it is. Biscuit porcelain, also incorrectly called bisque, is often employed to make miniature versions of marble statuary. It takes its name from its grainy texture.

In the most restricted sense, the works produced and the theories expounded by the late 16th- and early 17th-century Italian painters Lodovico Carracci and his cousins, the brothers Agostino and Annibale Carracci.

A prayer book used by laymen for private devotion, containing prayers or meditations appropriate to certain hours of the day, days of the week, months, or seasons. They became so popular in the 15th century that the Book of Hours outnumbers all other categories of illuminated manuscripts; from the late 15th century there were also printed versions illustrated by woodcuts. The most famous Book of Hours and one of the most beautiful of all illuminated manuscripts is the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (Musée Condé, Chantilly), illuminated by the Limburg Brothers for Jean de Berry.

A form of perspective in painting that takes account of the viewer's position well below the level of the picture.

Usually applied to models for sculpture, but can also be used for painted sketches, though these are more often called 'modelli'.

Strictly speaking, a small three-dimensional sketch in wax or clay made by a sculptor in preparation for a larger and more finished work. By extension, a rapid sketch in oil, made as a study for a larger picture.

A book of daily prayers and readings used by priest and monks.

An alloy of copper (usually about 90 per cent) and tin, often also containing small amounts of other metals such as lead or zinc. Since antiquity it has been the metal most commonly used in cast sculpture because of its strength, durability, and the fact that it is easily workable - both hot and cold - by a variety of processes. It is easier to cast than copper because it has a lower melting-point, and its great tensile strength makes possible the protrusion of unsupported parts - an advantage over marble sculpture. The colour of bronze is affected by the proportion of tin or other metals present, varying from silverish to a rich, coppery red, and its surface beauty can be enhanced when it acquires a patina.

A mass of stone built up to support a wall, usually necessary to strengthen those of great height. See flying buttress.

The art ofthe Byzantine Empire, which had its capital in Constantinople (Byzantium), from the 5th century to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. Based largely on Roman and Greek art, Byzantine art also absorbed a wide of influences, notable from Syria and Egypt. Byzantine art was essentially a spiritual and religious art, its forms highly stylized, hieratic and unchanging (central images were thought to derive from original portraits). It also served to glorify the emperor. Among its most distinctive products were icons, mosaics, manuscript illuminations, and work in precious metals. The strong influence of the Byzantine style on medieval Italian painting can be seen in the works of Cimabue, Duccio, and Giotto.



A small, private room where works of art, valuables and curiosities were kept and contemplated at leisure; over time the term was used for the collections themselves. Renaissance cabinets played an important role in the development of museums and art galleries.

cabinet painting

A small painting which was intended to be viewed closely and at leisure in a Renaissance cabinet, a fact usually reflected in a highly finished style and the subject matter, which was often allegorical. Cabinet paintings and pieces first occur in the 15th century and are associated with the development of private collections.


A rod entwined with a pair of snakes, an attribute of Mercury and a symbol of healing and of peace.

caisson (Fr. casson, "a chest, box")

In architecture, a sunken panel in a ceiling or vault.

camera obscura

Ancestor of the photographic camera. The Latin name means "dark chamber," and the earliest versions, dating to antiquity, consisted of small darkened rooms with light admitted through a single tiny hole. The result was that an inverted image of the outside scene was cast on the opposite wall, which was usually whitened. For centuries the technique was used for viewing eclipses of the Sun without endangering the eyes and, by the 16th century, as an aid to drawing; the subject was posed outside and the image reflected on a piece of drawing paper for the artist to trace. Portable versions were built, followed by smaller and even pocket models; the interior of the box was painted black and the image reflected by an angled mirror so that it could be viewed right side up. The introduction of a light-sensitive plate by J.-N. Niepce created photography.


Bell tower, usually built beside or attached to a church; the word is most often used in connection with Italian architecture.

candelabra, sing. candelabrum (It. candela, "candle")

A large, usually decorated, candlestick, usually with several branches or arms.

cantoria, pl. cantorie (It.)

A gallery for singers or musicians, usually in a church. Two outstanding examples are those by the sculptors Andrea della Robbia and Donatello in Florence cathedral, both of which have richly carved marble panels.


A woven cloth used as a support for painting. The best-quality canvas is made of linen; other materials used are cotton, hemp, and jute. It is now so familiar a material that the word 'canvas' has become almost a synonym for an oil painting, but it was not until around 1500 that it began to rival the wooden panel (which was more expensive and took longer to prepare) as the standard support for movable paintings (the transition came later in Northern Europe than in Italy). Canvas is not suitable for painting on until it has been coated with a ground, which isolates the fabric from the paint; otherwise it will absorb too much paint, only very rough effects will be obtainable, and parts of the fabric may be rotted by the pigments. It must also be made taut on a stretcher or by some other means.

capital (Lat. capitellum, "little head")

The head or crowning feature of a column or pillar. Structurally, capitals broaden the area of a column so that it can more easily bear the weight of the arch or entablature it supports.

The term 'Caravaggisti' is applied to painters - both Italians and artists from other countries - who imitated the style of Caravaggio in the early 17th century.

the four principle virtues of Temperantia (Temperance), Fortitudo (Fortitude), Prudentia (Prudence) and Justitia (Justice) that were adopted from Plato (427-347 BC) in Christian ethics. Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) added the three so-called Theological Virtues of Fides (Faith), Spes (Hope) and Caritas (Love/Charity). At the height of the Middle Ages, this Christian system of Virtues was further extended.

"Brothers of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel", a Roman Catholic order of contemplative mendicant friars. Founded in Palestine in the 12th century, the Carmelites were originally hermits. In the 13th century the order was refounded as an order resembling the Dominicans and Franciscans. An order of Carmelite sisters was founded in the 15th century; in the 16th century reforms introduced by St. Teresa of Ávila led to the creation of the Barefoot (Discalced) Carmelites.

In a painting, a simulated piece of paper that carries an inscription bearing the artist's signature, the date of the painting, details of the subject, or a motto.

strict Catholic monastic order founded in 1084 by Bruno of Cologne (1032-1101) in the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble. The order combines reclusive and community life. New Charterhouses, monasteries containing separate hermitages, were built in the 14th and 15th centuries, and the order became receptive to late medieval mysticism, and humanism, the endeavour to attain true humanity.

A full-scale preparatory drawing for a painting, tapestry, or fresco. In fresco painting, the design was transferred to the wall by making small holes along the contour lines and then powdering them with charcoal in order to leave an outline on the surface to be painted. In the 19th centurry designs submitted in a competition for frescos in the Houses of Parliament in London were parodied in the magazine Punch. From this the word has acquired its most common meaning today - a humorous drawing or parody.

An ornate painted panel on which an inscription can be written.

A carved female figure used in architecture as a column to support an entablature.

The Florentines defeated a Pisan force here on 28 July 1364, taking some of them by surprise while they bathed in the Arno. The engagement is best known as the subject of a fresco commissioned for the Palazzo Vecchio from Michelangelo. Worked on at intervals 1504-06, this remained unfinished and is known (partly)only from a somewhat later copy of the cartoon, and from the contemporary fame the cartoon acquired for its treatment of the abruptly alerted bathers.

Usually used as a marriage chest, and the most elaborately decorated piece of furniture of the Renaissance. Cassoni traditionally were made in pairs and sometimes bore the respective coats of arms of the bride and groom. They contained the bride's clothes, linen, and many other items of her dowry. In the 15th century, when the greatest importance was attached to suitable marital alliances between Florence's wealthiest families, the cassone reached great heights of artistic achievement. Florentine artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Paolo Uccello, and Donatello were employed to decorate cassoni with paintings set in an architectural framework. Battle scenes and classical and literary themes were especially popular. A number of paintings from cassoni of this period have been preserved.

Sixteenth-century cassoni were elaborately carved with mythological and grotesque figures, decorated with gilt gesso, putti (cupids), and swags of fruit and flowers, or enriched with intarsia (mosaics of wood). Although the finest marriage chests came from Italy, they were also used in other countries.

"castle", palace.

The principal church of a province or diocese, where the throne of the bishop is placed. For reasons lost to time and tradition, a cathedral always faces west - toward the setting sun. The altar is placed at the east end. The main body, or nave, of the cathedral is usually divided into one main and two side aisles. These lead up to the north and south transepts, or arms of the cross, the shape in which a cathedral is usually formed.

Attempts between the 15th and 16th centuries to eliminate deficiencies within the Roman Catholic Church (such as financial abuses, moral laxity in the clergy and so on).

a scientific and mathematical method of three-dimensional representation developed by Filippo Brunelleschi (1376 -1446) at the beginning of the 15th century. Relative to the observer, all the converging lines lead toward a single vanishing point at the centre of the composition. An illusion of depth is created on two-dimensional picture surfaces by precise foreshortening and proportioning of the objects, landscapes, buildings and figures that are being depicted, in accordance with their distance from the observer.

A cup used in the celebration of the Christian Eucharist. Both the statement of St. Paul about "the cup of blessing which we bless" (1 Corinthians 10:16) and the accounts of the institution of the Eucharist in the first three Gospels indicate that special rites of consecration attended the use of the chalice from the beginning. It was not until the recognition of Christianity by the Roman Empire in the 4th century that silver and gold became the usual materials for the chalice. In the Middle Ages the legend of the Holy Grail surrounded the origins of the eucharistic chalice with a magical aura.

The precious stones and elaborate carvings employed for the embellishment of chalices have made them an important part of the history of ecclesiastical art.

In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic literature, a celestial winged being with human, animal, or birdlike characteristics; a throne bearer of the deity. Derived from ancient Near Eastern mythology and iconography, these celestial beings serve important liturgical and intercessory functions in the hierarchy of angels. Old Testament descriptions of the cherubim emphasize their supernatural mobility and their cultic role as throne bearers of God, rather than intercessory functions. In Christianity the cherubim are ranked among the higher orders of angels and, as celestial attendants of God, continually praise him.

In painting, the modelling of form (the creation of a sense of three-dimensionality in objects) through the use of light and shade. The introduction of oil paints in the 15th century, replacing tempera, encouraged the development of chiaroscuro, for oil paint allowed a far greater range and control of tone. The term chiaroscuro is used in particular for the dramatic contrasts of light and dark introduced by Caravaggio. When the contrast of light and dark is strong, chiaroscuro becomes an important element of composition.

A printing technique in which several printing blocks are used, each producing a different tone of the same color so as to create tonal modeling. Hans Wechtlin experimented with the process in Strassburg between 1504 and 1526, but Ugo da Carpi's claims to have invented it in Venice in 1516 were generally accepted. North of the Alps, various painters experimented with using blocks of different color to produce novel artistic emphases, notably Lucas Cranach (1506), Hans Burgkmair (1510), and Albrecht Altdorfer (1511/20).

The knightly class of feudal times. The primary sense of the term in the European Middle Ages is "knights," or "fully armed and mounted fighting men." Thence the term came to mean the gallantry and honour expected of knights. Lastly, the word came to be used in its general sense of "courtesy."

In English law "chivalry" meant the tenure of land by knights' service. The court of chivalry instituted by Edward III, with the lord high constable and earl marshal of England as joint judges, had summary jurisdiction in all cases of offenses of knights and generally as to military matters.

The concept of chivalry in the sense of "honourable and courteous conduct expected of a knight" was perhaps at its height in the 12th and 13th centuries and was strengthened by the Crusades, which led to the founding of the earliest orders of chivalry, the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (Hospitalers) and the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Templars), both originally devoted to the service of pilgrims to the Holy Land. In the 14th and 15th centuries the ideals of chivalry came to be associated increasingly with aristocratic display and public ceremony rather than service in the field.

the part of a church interior, usually raised and set apart from the rest of the church, reserved for the clergy to pray together, or for choral singing. Since Carolingian times, "choir" has been the word for the part of the central nave of the church extending over the crossing (the place where nave and transept intersect), and including the apse (a niche in the wall, roofed with a half dome) that often stands at the end of this area.

are the names given to the two main types of the very large painted crucifixes which normally stood on the rood-screens of medieval churches. Very few still exist in their original positions, most of the surviving examples having been cut down in size and transferred to chapels or sacristies. The Christus Patiens (Suffering Christ) represents Christ as dead on the cross, whereas the Triumphans type represents Him with open eyes and outstretched arms standing on (rather than hangign from) the Cross. The dramatic emphasis of the Patiens type is certainly to be connected with the influence of St Francis of Assisi. An early example is provided by the work of Giunta Pisano.

Spanish Churrigueresco, Spanish Rococo style in architecture, historically a late Baroque return to the aesthetics of the earlier Plateresque style. In addition to a plethora of compressed ornament, surfaces bristle with such devices as broken pediments, undulating cornices, reversed volutes, balustrades, stucco shells, and garlands. Restraint was totally abandoned in a conscious effort to overwhelm the spectator. Although the name of the style comes from the family name of José Benito Churriguera, an architect, the Churriguera family members are not the most representative masters of the style.

The Transparente (completed 1732), designed by Narciso Tomé for the cathedral in Toledo, is among the masterpieces of Churrigueresque. Tomé created an arrangement in which the Holy Sacrament could be placed within a transparent vessel that was visible from both the high altar and the ambulatory, seen both by the congregation and the pilgrim. Sculpted clouds, gilded rays, a massing of carved angels, and architecturally directed natural light combine to produce a mystical and spiritual effect.

In the sacristy of the Cartuja of Granada (1727-64), Luis de Arévalo and Francisco Manuel Vásquez created an interior that, if not as delicate or as ingenious as that designed by Tomé, is as typically Churrigueresque. The architects drew from other sources for the thick moldings, undulating lines, and repetition of pattern.

In Spanish America tendencies from both the native art of the Americas and the ever-present Mudéjar (Moorish art) have been incorporated, further enriching the style, and the Churrigueresque column, which was shaped like an inverted cone, became the most common motif. The Mexico cathedral (1718), Santa Prisca at Taxco (1758), and San Martín at San Luis Potosí (1764) are excellent examples of Churrigueresque in Mexico.

A term applied to both a liturgical vessel used for holding the consecrated Host and an altar canopy supported on columns, popular particularly in Italy in the Romanesque and Gothic periods. In the latter sense the word is not easily distinguished from baldacchino.

Designations such as Cinquecento (1500s, High Renaissance), Quattrocento (1400s, Early Renaissance) and the earlier Trecento (1300s, the interval falling between the Gothic and Renaissance periods) are useful in suggesting the changing intellectual and cultural outlooks of late- and post-medieval Italy. The Cinquecento delimits a period of intense and violent changes in the whole fabric of Italian culture. It refers to the century of the Protestant Reformation, of Spanish and Habsburg political domination, and of the uneasy transition to Mannerism in the visual arts.

Ciompi was the name given to the most numerous class of day-labourers (dismissible without notice) in 14th century Florence's chief industry: those employed in the manufacture of woollen cloth as weavers, beaters, combers, etc. They were forbidden to form a trade association, as also were those in the associated, but self-employed, craft of dyeing. Without being members of a guild, none could seek redress save from the Arte della Lana, the manufacturers' corporation which employed them, or achieve political representation.

Insurrection of the lower classes of Florence in 1378 that briefly brought to power one of the most democratic governments in Florentine history. The ciompi ("wool carders") were the most radical of the groups that revolted, and they were defeated by the more conservative elements in Florentine society.

A struggle between factions within the major ruling guilds triggered the uprising. Members of the lower classes, called upon to take part in the revolt in late June, continued to agitate on their own during the month of July. They presented a series of petitions to the Signoria (executive council of Florence) demanding a more equitable fiscal policy and the right to establish guilds for those groups not already organized. Then, on July 22, the lower classes forcibly took over the government, placing one of their members, the wool carder Michele di Lando, in the important executive office of gonfaloniere of justice. The new government, controlled by the minor guilds, was novel in that for the first time it represented all the classes of society, including the ciompi, who were raised to the status of a guild.

But the ciompi were soon disillusioned. Their economic condition worsened, and the new government failed to implement all their demands. Conflicting interests of the minor guilds and the ciompi became evident. On August 31 a large group of the ciompi that had gathered in the Piazza della Signoria was easily routed by the combined forces of the major and minor guilds. In reaction to this revolutionary episode, the ciompi guild was abolished, and within four years the dominance of the major guilds was restored.

An ancient musical instrument, resembling a lyre, on which strings were plucked. They were often used to accompany a singer or someone reciting poetry.

woodcut technique based on the reproduction of light and dark in drawings, where the effect depends on using the base of the drawing in the design of the image. In clair-obscur prints the light areas are carved out of the printing plate, in order to allow the white of the paper to take effect. In coloured prints the coloured areas are printed with clay plates, the black contours usually with a special line plate, except in cases where - as in Italy these were dispensed with.

Relating to the culture of ancient Greece and Rome (classical Antiquity). The classical world played a profoundly important role in the Renaissance, with Italian scholars, writers, and artists seeing their own period as the rebirth (the "renaissance") of classical values after the Middle Ages. The classical world was considered the golden age for the arts, literature, philosophy, and politics. Concepts of the classical, however, changed greatly from one period to the next. Roman literature provided the starting point in the 14th century, scholars patiently finding, editing and translating a wide range of texts. In the 15th century Greek literature, philosophy and art - together with the close study of the remains of Roman buildings and sculptures-expanded the concept of the classical and ensured it remained a vital source of ideas and inspiration.

a cloth of valuable material held up behind a distinguished person to set them apart visually from others (a custom deriving from classical antiquity).

An ornamental system of deep panels recessed into a vault, arch or ceiling. Coffered ceilings, occasionally made of wood, were frequently used in Renaissance palaces.

Connoisseurs of art, literature or music; those with refined tastes.

The painters' guild in Florence (named after St. Luke because he was believed to have painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary).

Pairs of colours that have the maximum contrast and so, when set side by side, intensify one another. Green and red, blue and orange, and yellow and violet are complementary colours.

The last prayers of the day; the church service at which these prayers are said.

In Renaissance art theory, the intellectual or narrative program behind a work; a work's underlying theme. Concetti were often taken from the literature and mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome, as well as from the Bible.

Leader of a band of mercenaries engaged to fight in numerous wars among the Italian states from the mid-14th to the 16th century. The name was derived from the condotta, or "contract," by which the condottieri put themselves in the service of a city or of a lord.

The first mercenary armies in Italy (often called free companies) were made up of foreigners. The earliest (1303) was composed of Catalans who had fought in the dynastic wars of the south. In the mid-14th century the Grand Company, composed mainly of Germans and Hungarians, terrorized the country, devastating Romagna, Umbria, and Tuscany. It was one of the first to have a formal organization and a strict code of discipline, developed by the Provençal adventurer Montréal d' Albarno. The Englishman Sir John Hawkwood, one of the most famous of the non-Italian condottieri, came to Italy in the 1360s during a lull in the Hundred Years' War and for the next 30 years led the White Company in the confused wars of northern Italy.

By the end of the 14th century, Italians began to raise mercenary armies, and soon condottieri were conquering principalities for themselves. The organization of the companies was perfected in the early 15th century by Muzio Attendolo Sforza, in the service of Naples, and his rival Braccio da Montone, in the service of Perugia. Muzio's son, Francesco Sforza, who won control of Milan in 1450, was one of the most successful of all the condottieri.

Less fortunate was another great condottiere, Carmagnola, who first served one of the viscounts of Milan and then conducted the wars of Venice against his former masters but at last awoke the suspicion of the Venetian oligarchy and was put to death before the palace of St. Mark (1432). Toward the end of the 15th century, when the large cities had gradually swallowed up the small states and Italy itself was drawn into the general current of European politics and became the battlefield of powerful armies--French, Spanish, and German--the condottieri, who proved unequal to the gendarmery of France and the improved Italian troops, disappeared.

The soldiers who fought under the condottieri were almost entirely heavy-armoured cavalry and were noted for their rapacious and disorderly behaviour. With no goal beyond personal gain, the armies of the condottieri often changed sides, and their battles often resulted in little bloodshed.

Confraternities, often called compagnie or, in Venice, scuole, were religious associations of lay persons devoted to specific pious practices or works of charity, often under the direction of, or with the spiritual assistance of, clergy. Guilds 'qua' religious associations had the character of confraternities.

Several major historic waves of foundations can be distinguished. (1) Compagnie dei disciplinati or dei laudesi, i.e. flagellant confraternities, which were conformist offshoots of the partly heterodox flagellant movement of 1260. The Venetian scuole grandi were especially prestigious examples. By the 16th century, although flagellant practices were retained in some cases, these functioned more as mutual aid societies and as administrators of charitable funds. (2) Confraternite del Rosario, which spread in the 15th century, being primarily promoted by the Dominicans. (3) A group of confraternities which spread from the mid-15th century, commonly called either Compagnia di S. Girolamo or Compagnia del Divino Amore ('Company of Divine Love'; perhaps the first example was the Florentine Buonuomini di S. Martino), associated with certain specialized charitable enterprises, in the first place relief of the poveri vergognosi or 'shamefaced poor', i.e. respectable people who had to be aided discreetly. In the 16th century they also promoted hospitals of the incurabili, primarily for syphilitics, convents of convertite, i.e. reformed prostitutes, and refuges for maidens. To this movement belonged the famous Roman Company or Oratory of Divine Love, founded c. 1514 in S. Dorotea in Trastevere. This recruited some leading churchmen and papal officials (as a confraternity it was unusual in its heavy clerical membership), but many ascriptions of leading church reformers to it are without sound foundation and there is no basis for its reputation as a seminal body in the Catholic reform movement. The new congregation of the Clerks Regular called Theatines was, however, an offshoot and these took the lead in propagating Compagnie del Divino Amore in Italy. Other types of confraternity were those of the buona morte, which accompanied condemned prisoners, and those which aided imprisoned debtors, e.g. the Florentine Neri.

Confraternities commonly had chapels in parish churches or in the churches of religious orders, but sometimes had their own premises, e.g. the splendid ones of the Venetian scuole grandi; in Florence, the hall of Orsanmichele housed a devotional and almsgiving confraternity as well as being a grain dispensary. Great confraternities might exercise public functions: certain Florentine ones concerned with welfare became effectively state magistracies, while the Venetian government, in addition to giving them a ceremonial role, relied upon the scuole grandi to distribute funds. Confraternities, notwithstanding their location, tended to be manifestations of lay piety independent of ecclesiastical institutions, or at least outside the framework of the parish and the diocese.

a line around a shape in a work of art, its nature depending on the artist's concept and intention. In medieval painting, contours were initially regular, flat outlines; in the course of the 14th century they acquired more sense of spatial effect, and appear to be alternately more and less emphatic. Later, the effect of contour in painting and graphic art became particularly important to artistic movements in which line and draughtsmanship was a prominent factor.

An asymmetrical pose in which the one part of the body is counterbalanced by another about the body's central axis. Ancient Greek sculptors developed contrapposto by creating figures who stand with their weight on one leg, the movement of the hips to one side being balanced by a counter movement of the torso. Contrapposto was revived during the Renaissance and frequently used by Mannerist artist, who developed a greater range of contrapposto poses.

A religious meeting or society.

A method of printing using a copper plate into which a design has been cut by a sharp instrument such as a burin; an engraving produced in this way. Invented in south west Germany during the 1430s, the process is the second oldest graphic art after woodcut. In German art it was developed in particular by Schongauer and Dürer, and in Italian art by Pollaiuolo and Mantegna.

In architecture, a bracket of stone, brick or wood that projects from a wall to support an arch, large cornice or other feature. They are often ornamented.

A type of coloured decorative inlay work of stone and glass that flourished mainly in Rome between c. 1100 and 1300. It is characterized by the use of small pieces of coloured stone and glass in combination with strips of white marble to produce geometrical designs. The term derives from two craftsmen called Cosmas, whose names are inscribed on several works, but there were several families of 'Cosmati' workers and many individual craftsmen. Cosmati work was applied to church furnishings such as tombs and pulpits and was also used for architectural decoration. The style spread as far as England, for example in the tomb of Henry III in Westminster Abbey (c. 1280), executed by imported Italian craftsmen.

The pattern of fine cracks in paint, due to the paint shrinking and becoming brittle as it ages.

The crook-shaped staff carried by a bishop. The crook is intended to resemble a shepherd's crook, i.e. it symbolizes the shepherd (the bishop) looking after his flock.

An important method of capital punishment, particularly among the Persians, Seleucids, Jews, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished it in the Roman Empire in AD 337, out of veneration for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of crucifixion.

There were various methods of performing the execution. Usually, the condemned man, after being whipped, or "scourged," dragged the crossbeam of his cross to the place of punishment, where the upright shaft was already fixed in the ground. Stripped of his clothing either then or earlier at his scourging, he was bound fast with outstretched arms to the crossbeam or nailed firmly to it through the wrists. The crossbeam was then raised high against the upright shaft and made fast to it about 9 to 12 feet (approximately 3 metres) from the ground. Next, the feet were tightly bound or nailed to the upright shaft. A ledge inserted about halfway up the upright shaft gave some support to the body; evidence for a similar ledge for the feet is rare and late. Over the criminal's head was placed a notice stating his name and his crime. Death, apparently caused by exhaustion or by heart failure, could be hastened by shattering the legs (crurifragium) with an iron club, so that shock and asphyxiation soon ended his life.

A wind instrument popular throughout Europe in 16th and 17th centuries. An ancestor of the oboe, the crumhorn was a double-reed instrument that produced a soft, reedy sound.

In architecture, a small dome, usually one set on a much larger dome or on a roof; a semi-circular vault.



(1) The section of a pedestal between base and surbase. (2) The lower portion of the wall of a room, decorated diffrently from the upper section.

danse macabre

The dance of death, a favorite late medieval picture subject. It generally shows skeletons forcing the living to dance with them, usually in matching pairs, e.g. a live priest dancing with a skeleton priest. Holbein's woodcut series the Dance of Death is one of the most famous.

deacon (Gk. diakonos, "servant")

a minister who was below the rank of priest in the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches. Deacons originally cared for both the sick and the poor in early Christian communities.

Deësis (Gk. "request")

the representation of Christ enthroned in glory as judge or ruler of the world, flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist acting as intercessors.

diptych (Lat. diptychum, Gk. diptychos, "folded in two")

in medieval art a picture, often an altarpiece, consisting of two folding wings without a fixed central area.

disegno (It. "drawing, design")

In Renaissance art theory, the design of a painting seen in terms of drawing, which was help to be the basis of all art. The term stresses not the literal drawing, but the concept behind an art work. With the Mannerists the term came to mean an ideal image that a work attempts to embody but can in fact never fully realize. As disegno appeals to the intellect, it was considered far more important that coloure (colour), which was seen as appealing to the senses and emotions.

distemper (Lat. distemperare, "to mix, dilute")

A technique of painting in which pigments are diluted with water and bound with a glue. It was usually used for painting wall decorations and frescoes, though a few artists, notably Andrea Mantegna (1430/31-1506), also used it on canvas.


in architecture, hemispherical structure evolved from the arch, usually forming a ceiling or roof.

A Roman Catholic order of mendicant friars founded by St. Dominic in 1216 to spread the faith through preaching and teaching. The Dominicans were one of the most influential religious orders in the later Middle Ages, their intellectual authority being established by such figures as Albertus Magnus and St.Thomas Aquinas. The Dominicans played the leading role in the Inquisition.

a patron who commissioned a work of art for a church. Donors sometimes had their portraits included in the work they were donating as a sign of piety.

A male garment, formerly worn under armour, that from the 15th century referred to a close-fitting jacket.



Stand on which a painting is supported while the artist works on it. The oldest representation of an easel is on an Egyptian relief of the Old Kingdom (c. 2600-2150 BC). Renaissance illustrations of the artist at work show all kinds of contrivances, the commonest being the three-legged easel with pegs, such as we still use today. Light folding easels were not made until the 18th and 19th centuries, when painters took to working out of doors. The studio easel, a 19th-century invention, is a heavy piece of furniture, which runs on castors or wheels, and served to impress the c1ients of portrait painters. Oil painters need an easel which will support the canvas almost vertically or tip it slightly forward to prevent reflection from the wet paint, whereas the watercolourist must be able to lay his paper nearly flat so that the wet paint will not run down. The term 'easel-painting' is applied to any picture small enough to have been painted on a standard easel.

Ecce Homo (Lat. "Behold the Man!")

The words of Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of St. John (19, 5) when he presents Jesus to the crowds. Hence, in art, a depiction of Jesus, bound and flogged, wearing a crown of thorns and a scarlet robe.

en face

In portraiture, a pose in which the sitter faces the viewer directly; full face.


A print made from a metal plate that has had a design cut into it with a sharp point. Ink is smeared over the plate and then wiped off, the ink remaining in the etched lines being transferred when the plate is pressed very firmly onto a sheet of paper.

ensemble (Fr. "together")

A combining of several media grouped together to form a composite art work. Chapels were among the most notable Renaissance ensembles, sometimes combining panel painting, fresco, sculpture, and architecture.


In classical architecture, the part of a building between the capitals of the columns and the roof. It consists of the architrave, the frieze, and the cornice.

epitaph (Gk. epistaphion)

Pictures or tables with reliefs and inscriptions erected in honour of the deceased in churches or sepulchral chapels.

eschatology (Gk. eschaton, "last", and logos, "word")

the science of the end of the world and beginning of a new world, and of the last things,death and resurrection.

Eucharist (Gk. eu, "good," and charis, "thanks")

the sacrament of Holy Communion, celebrated with bread and wine, the most sacred moment of the Christian liturgy.


The term is used in an Italian context to designate spiritual currents manifest around 1540 which might be said to have occupied the confessional middle ground between Catholicism and Protestantism; hence it does not relate at all to the term 'Evangelical' as used in German or English contexts. It has been applied particularly to the so-called spirituali of the Viterbo circle, notably Cardinal Pole, Vittoria Colonna, Marcantonio Flaminio, Carnesecchi and Ochino, and also to Giulia Gonzaga, Contarini, Giovanni Morone; Gregorio Cortese and Vermigli. Such persons combined a zeal for personal religious renewal with spiritual anxieties akin to those of Luther, to which they sought an answer in the study of St Paul and St Augustine; convinced of the inefficacy of human works, they stressed the role of faith and the all-efficacy of divine grace in justification. Few of them broke with the Catholic Church.


Fathers of the Church

A title given to those leaders of the early Christian Church whose writings had made an important contribution to the development of doctrine. Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great were often considered the four principal Fathers of the Church.

festoni (It. "festoons)

Architectural ornaments consisting of fruit, leaves, and flowers suspended in a loop; a swag.

fête champêtre (French: "rural feast")

In painting, representation of a rural feast or open-air entertainment. Although the term fête galante ("gallant feast") is sometimes used synonymously with fête champêtre, it is also used to refer to a specific kind of fête champêtre: a more graceful, usually aristocratic scene in which groups of idly amorous, relaxed, well-dressed figures are depicted in a pastoral setting.


of a column or pillar, carved with closely spaced parallel grooves cut vertically.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

the Four Horsemen in the Revelation of St John (Rev 6, 2 - 8), which contains the description of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. The Horsemen personify the disasters about to happen to mankind, such as plague, war, famine and death. Their attributes are the bow, sword and set of balances. In some sculptures the first rider is identified as Christ by a halo. The colour of his horse is white, that of the others red, black and dun.

A Roman Catholic order of mendicant friars founded by St. Francis of Assisi (given papal approval in 1223). Committed to charitable and missionary work, they stressed the veneration of the Holy Virgin, a fact that was highly significant in the development of images of the Madonna in Italian art. In time the absolute poverty of the early Franciscans gave way to a far more relaxed view of property and wealth, and the Franciscans became some of the most important patrons of art in the early Renaissance.

Wall painting technique in which pigments are applied to wet (fresh) plaster (intonaco). The pigments bind with the drying plaster to form a very durable image. Only a small area can be painted in a day, and these areas, drying to a slightly different tint, can in time be seen. Small amounts of retouching and detail work could be carried out on the dry plaster, a technique known as a secco fresco.

Save in Venice, where the atmosphere was too damp, fresco painting was the habitual way of decorating wall surfaces in Italy, both in churches and in private and public palaces. During the 16th century a liking for the more brilliant effect of large canvases painted in oils, and to a lesser extent for tapestries, diminished the use of frescoes save for covering upper walls, covings and ceilings. The technique of buon fresco, or true fresco, involved covering the area with a medium-fine plaster, the intonaco, just rough enough to provide a bond (sometimes enhanced by scoring) for the final layer of fine plaster. Either a freehand sketch of the whole composition (sinopia) was drawn on the wall, or a full-scale cartoon was prepared and its outlines transferred to the intonaco by pressing them through with a knife or by pouncing - blowing charcoal dust through prickholes in the paper. Then over the intonaco enough of the final thin layer was applied to contain a day's work. That portion of the design was repeated on it either by the same methods or freehand, and the artist set to work with water-based pigments while the plaster was still damp; this allowed them to sink in before becoming dry and fixed. (Thus 'pulls' or slices of frescoes could be taken by later art thieves without actually destroying the colour or drawing of the work.) It is usually possible to estimate the time taken to produce a fresco by examining the joins between the plastered areas representing a day's work. Final details, or effects impossible to obtain in true fresco pigments, could be added at the end in 'dry' paints, or fresco secco, a technique in which pigment was laid on an unabsorbent plaster; the best known example of an entire composition in fresco secco is Leonardo's Last Supper.


Garter, Order of the

The highest order the English monarch can bestow. It was founded by Edward III in 1348. The blue Garter ribbon is worn under the left knee by men and on the upper left arm by women. The motto is Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil to those who think evil).


in classical Rome, a person's invisible tutelary god. In art from the classical period onwards, the low-ranking god was depicted as a winged, usually childish figure.


In a broad sense, the term is used to mean a particular branch or category of art; landscape and portraiture, for example, are genres of painting, and the essay and the short story are genres of literature.

genre painting

The depiction of scenes from everyday life. Elements of everyday life had long had a role in religious works; pictures in which such elements were the subject of a painting developed in the 16th century with such artists as Pieter Bruegel. Then Carracci and Caravaggio developed genre painting in Italy, but it was in Holland in the 17th century that it became an independent form with its own major achievements, Vermeer being one of its finest exponents.


A term applied to the 14th-century followers of Giotto. The best-known of the 'Giotteschi' are the Florentines Taddeo Gaddi, Maso di Banco, Bernardo Daddi, and to a lesser extent the Master of St Cecilia. Giotto's most loyal follower was Maso, who concentrated on the essential and maintained the master's high seriousness.


French term used from the 15th century onwards for a lying or recumbent effigy on a funerary monument. The gisant typically represented a person in death (sometimes decomposition) and the gisant position was contrasted with the orant, which represented the person as if alive in a kneeling or praying position. In Renaissance monuments gisants often formed part of the lower register, where the deceased person was represented as a corpse, while on the upper part he was represented orant as if alive.


paint applied so thinly that the base beneath it is visible through the layer.


(1) The supernatural radiance surrounding a holy person.

(2) To have the distinction of one's deeds recognized in life and to be revered for them posthumously: this was glory. The nature of true gloria was much discussed, whether it must be connected with the public good, whether the actions that led to it must conform with Christian ethics, how it differed from notoriety. The concept did not exclude religious figures (the title of the church of the Frari in Venice was S. Maria Gloriosa), but it was overwhelmingly seen in terms of secular success and subsequent recognition, as determining the lifestyles of the potent and the form of their commemoration in literature, in portraits and on tombs. As such, it has been taken as a denial of medieval religiosity ('sic transit gloria mundi'), and thus a hallmark of Renaissance individual ism; as a formidable influence on cultural patronage; and as spurring on men of action, as well as writers and artists, to surpass their rivals - including their counterparts in antiquity.


French tapestry manufactory, named after a family of dyers and clothmakers who set up business on the outskirts of Paris in the 15th century. Their premises became a tapestry factory in the early 17th century, and in 1662 it was taken over by Louis XIV, who appointed Lebrun Director. Initially it made not only tapestries but also every kind of product (except carpets, which were woven at the Savonnerie factory) required for the furnishing of the royal palaces — its official title was Manufacture royale des meubles de la Couronne. The celebrated tapestry designed by Lebrun showing Louis XIV Visiting the Gobelins (Gobelins Museum, Paris, 1663-75) gives a good idea of the range of its activities. In 1694 the factory was closed because of the king's financial difficulties, and although it reopened in 1699, thereafter it made only tapestries. For much of the 18th century it retained its position as the foremost tapestry manufactory in Europe. 0udry and Boucher successively held the post of Director (1733-70). The Gobelins continues in production today and houses a tapestry museum.

Golden Fleece, Order of the Golden Fleece

a noble chivalric order, still in existence today, founded by Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy in 1430 in honor of the Apostle Andrew, for the defence of the Christian faith and the Church. In allusion to the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, the symbol of the order is a golden ram's fleece drawn through a gold ring.

golden section (Lat. sectio aurea)

In painting and architecture, a formula meant to provide the aesthetically most satisfying proportions for a picture or a feature of a building. The golden section is arrived at by dividing a line unevenly so that the shorter length is to the larger as the larger is to the whole. This ratio is approximately 8:13. The golden section (sometimes known as the golden mean), which was thought to express a perfect harmony of proportions, played an important role in Renaissance theories of art.


Italian gonfaloniere ("standard bearer"), a title of high civic magistrates in the medieval Italian city-states.

In Florence the gonfaloniers of the companies (gonfalonieri di compagnia) originated during the 1250s as commanders of the people's militia. In the 1280s a new office called the gonfalonier of justice (gonfaloniere di giustizia) was instituted to protect the interests of the people against the dominant magnate class. The holder of this office subsequently became the most prominent member of the Signoria (supreme executive council of Florence) and formal head of the civil administration. In other Italian cities, the role of the gonfaloniers was similar to that in Florence. Gonfaloniers headed the militia from the various city quarters, while the gonfalonier of justice often was the chief of the council of guild representatives.

The kings of France traditionally bore the title gonfalonier of St. Denis. The honorary title of gonfalonier of the church (vexillifer ecclesiae) was conferred by the popes, from the 13th until the 17th century, on sovereigns and other distinguished persons.

Gothic, which may well have originated with Alberti as a derogatory term and which certainly corresponds to Vasari's 'maniera tedesca' ('German style'), is properly the descriptive term for an artistic style which achieved its first full flowering in the Ile de France and the surrounding areas in the period between c. 1200 and c. 1270, and which then spread throughout northern Europe. It is characterized by the hitherto unprecedented integration of the arts of sculpture, painting, stained glass and architecture which is epitomized in the great cathedrals of Chartres, Amiens, and Reims or in the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. In all the arts the predominantly planar forms of the Romanesque are replaced by an emphasis on line. There is a transcendental quality, whether in the soaring forms of the pointed arches or in the new stress on the humanity of Christ, which similarly distinguishes it from the preceding Romanesque style.

In thinking of Nicola (d. c. 1284) or Giovanni Pisano (d. after 1314) there is same danger of forgetting what had happened in French sculpture half a century or more earlier, and likewise it is hard to remember that the spectacular achievements of early Renaissance art are a singularly localized eddy in the continuing stream of late gothic European art. By northern European standards few Italian works of art can be called gothic without qualification, and the story of 13th and 14th century Italian architecture is as much one of resistance to the new style as of its reception, whether directly from France or through German or central European intermediaries. In sculpture and in painting, the Italian reluctance to distort the human figure, conditioned by a never wholly submerged awareness of the omnipresent antique heritage, gives a special quality to the work of even those artists such as Giovanni Pisano or Simone Martini who most closely approached a pure gothic style.

Nevertheless, the vitalizing role of Northern gothic art throughout the early Renaissance and the period leading up to it should never be underestimated. The artistic, like the cultural and commercial, interaction was continuous and much of the Italian achievement is incomprehensible if seen in isolation. It is not merely at the level of direct exchanges between one artist and another, or the influence of one building; painting, manuscript or piece of sculpture upon another, that the effects are to be felt. The streaming quality of line which is so characteristic of Brunelleschi's early Renaissance architecture surely reflects a sensitivity to the gothic contribution which is entirely independent of, and lies much deeper than, the superficial particularities of form.

The counterflow of influence and inspiration from South to North must likewise not be underrated. In particular, the contribution of Italian painters from Duccio and Simone Martini onwards is central to the evolution of the so-called International Gothic style developing in Burgundy, Bohemia and north Italy in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.

Gouache is opaque watercolour, known also as poster paint and designer's colour. It is thinned with water for applying, with sable- and hog-hair brushes, to white or tinted paper and card and, occasionally, to silk. Honey, starch, or acrylic is sometimes added to retard its quick-drying property. Liquid glue is preferred as a thinner by painters wishing to retain the tonality of colours (which otherwise dry slightly lighter in key) and to prevent thick paint from flaking. Gouache paints have the advantages that they dry out almost immediately to a mat finish and, if required, without visible brush marks. These qualities, with the capacities to be washed thinly or applied in thick impasto and a wide colour range that now includes fluorescent and metallic pigments, make the medium particularly suited to preparatory studies for oil and acrylic paintings. It is the medium that produces the suede finish and crisp lines characteristic of many Indian and Islamic miniatures, and it has been used in Western screen and fan decoration and by modern artists such as Rouault, Klee, Dubuffet, and Morris Graves.

Term applied to the lofty and rhetorical manner of history painting that in academic theory was considered appropriate to the most serious and elevated subjects. The classic exposition of its doctrines is found in Reynolds's Third and Fourth Discourses (1770 and 1771), where he asserts that 'the gusto grande of the Italians, the beau idéal of the French, and the great style, genius, and taste among the English, are but different appellations of the same thing'. The idea of the Grand Manner took shape in 17th-century Italy, notably in the writings of Bellori. His friend Poussin and the great Bolognese painters of the 17th century were regarded as outstanding exponents of the Grand Manner, but the greatest of all was held to be Raphael.

An extensive journey to the Continent, chiefly to France, the Netherlands, and above all Italy, sometimes in the company of a tutor, that became a conventional feature in the education of the English gentleman in the 18th century. Such tours often took a year or more. It had a noticeable effect in bringing a more cosmopolitan spirit to the taste of connoisseurs and laid the basis for many collections among the landed gentry. It also helped the spread of the fashion for Neoclassicism and an enthusiasm for Italian painting. Among the native artists who catered for this demand were Batoni, Canaletto, Pannini, and Piranesi, and British artists (such as Nollekens) were sometimes able to support themselves while in Italy by working for the dealers and restorers who supplied the tourist clientele. There was also a flourishing market in guide books.

A cross with four arms of equal length.

Term current with several different meanings in the literature of the visual arts. In the context of the fine arts, it most usually refers to those arts that rely essentially on line or tone rather than colour — i.e. drawing and the various forms of engraving. Some writers, however, exclude drawing from this definition, so that the term 'graphic art' is used to cover the various processes by which prints are created. In another sense, the term — sometimes shortened to 'graphics' — is used to cover the entire field of commercial printing, including text as well as illustrations.

A painting done entirely in one colour, usually gray. Grisaille paintings were often intended to imitate sculpture.

Italian political terms derived from the German Welf, a personal and thence family name of the dukes of Bavaria, and Waiblingen, the name of a castle of the Hohenstaufen dukes of Swabia apparently used as a battle cry. Presumably introduced into Italy 1198-1218, when partisans of the Emperor Otto IV (Welf) contested central Italy with supporters of Philip of Swabia and his' nephew Frederick II, the terms do not appear in the chronicles until the Emperor Frederick's conflict with the Papacy 1235-50, when Guelf meant a supporter of the Pope and Ghibelline a supporter of the Empire. From 1266 to 1268, when Naples was conquered by Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX, the French connection became the touchstone of Guelfism, and the chain of Guelf alliances stretching from Naples, through central Italy, to Provence and Paris, underwritten by the financial interests of the Tuscan bankers, became an abiding feature of European politics. The Italian expeditions of Henry of Luxemburg (1310-13) and Lewis of Bavaria (1327-29) spread the terms to northern Italy, with the Visconti of Milan and the della Scala of Verona emerging as the leading Ghibelline powers. Attempts by Guelf propagandists to claim their party as the upholder of liberty and their opponents as the protagonists of tyranny rarely coincide with the truth: power politics, then as now, generally overrode ideology in inter-state affairs.

Factional struggles had existed within the Italian states from time immemorial, the parties taking a multitude of local names. In Florence, however, Guelf and Ghibelline were applied to the local factions which supposedly originated in a feud between the Buondelmonte and Amidei clans, c. 1216. In 1266-67 the Guelf party, which had recruited most of the merchant class, finally prevailed over the predominantly noble Ghibellines; after this, internal factions in Florence went under other names, like the Blacks and the Whites who contested for control of the commune between 1295 and 1302. Meanwhile the Parte Guelfa had become a corporate body whose wealth and moral authority as the guardian of political orthodoxy enabled it to play the part of a powerful pressure group through most of the 14th century. After the War of the Eight Saints, the influence of the Parte declined rapidly. Although its palace was rebuilt c. 1418-58 to the designs of Brunelleschi, it had no part in the conflicts surrounding the rise of the Medici régime.

An association of the masters of a particular craft, trade or profession (painters, goldsmiths, surgeons, and so on) set up to protect its members' rights and interests. Such guilds existed in virtually every European city in the 16th century. The guild also monitored standards of work, acted as a court for those who brought their trade into disrepute, and provided assistance to members in need.

Guilds were essentially associations of masters in particular crafts, trades, or professions. In Italy they go back a long way; there is documentary evidence of guilds in 6th century Naples. In origin they were clubs which observed religious festivals together and attended the funerals of their members, but in time they acquired other functions. Their economic function was to control standards and to enforce the guild's monopoly of particular activities in a particular territory. Their political function was to participate in the government of the city-state. In some cities, notably Florence in the 14th century, only guildsmen were eligible for civic office, thus excluding both noblemen (unless they swallowed their pride and joined, as some did), and unskilled workers like the woolcombers and dyers. In Florence in 1378 these groups demanded the right to form their own guilds, and there were similar movements of protest in Siena and Bologna.

Guilds were also patrons of art, commissioning paintings for guildhalls, contributing to the fabric fund of cathedrals and collaborating on collective projects like the statues for Orsanmichele at Florence. The guilds were not equal. In Florence, the 7 'Greater Guilds', including such prestigious occupations as judges and bankers, outranked the 14 'Lesser Guilds', and in general the guild hierarchy was reflected in the order of precedence in processions. The great age of the guilds was the 13th and 14th centuries. The economic recession after 1348 meant fewer opportunities for journeymen to become masters, and greater hostility between master and man. The shift from trade to land in the 15th and 16th centuries meant a decline in the social standing of the crafts. In some towns, such as Brescia and Vicenza, guild membership actually became a disqualification instead of a qualification for municipal office. The guilds lost their independence and became instruments of state control. In 16th century Venice, for example, they were made responsible for supplying oarsmen for the galleys of the state.


Part 1: A/G - Part 2: H/P - Part 3: Q/Z




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