- abstract art
Abstract art. In order to understand abstract art, examine a piece of non-abstract art. In order to understand the painting,
you have two points of reference. The first and foremost is the "realistic" reference, that is, you understand the painting by
relating it to the real world in some way. Its correspondence to a general standard of the nature of the real world allows you
to clearly identify the subject of the painting. The second point of reference is the internal design elements of the painting itself: lines,
colors, mass, and so on. This second point of reference, however, is almost totally subsumed by the first.
Now examine a piece of abstract art. There is, of course, no reference to the real phenomenal world; the standard of phenomenal reality
has been abandoned. In order to visually understand the painting, all you're left with is the second point of reference:
the internal design elements of the painting itself, that is, line, color, etc.
- Abstract Expressionism
- The designation Abstract Expressionism encompasses a wide variety of postwar American
painting through which the U.S. first became the center of the avant-grade. Critic Clement
Greenberg, a major proponent of the New York School, preferred the term Painterly abstraction in order
to describe the formal qualities of painting, lack of figuration and loose brush work. The related term
Action Painting was coined by critic Harold Rosenberg to refer to the gestural act of painting, which
he considered the artist' unconscious outpouring or enactment of some personal drama. The expressive
aspect of this art has been linked to the subjective heroism of earlier forms of Expressionism as well as
to the Surrealist technique of automatic writing. The influence of Surrealists and other artists who
fled Europe in late 1930s was integral to the develoment of Abstract Expressionism.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s Jackson Pollock, considered the foremost Abstract Expressionist, placed
his canvases on the floor to pour, drip, and splatter paint into them and to work on them from all sides,
which set him apart from the tradition of vertical easel painting. Other painters who worked in gestural
modes were William Baziotes, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlib, Philip Guston, Franz Kline,
and Robert Motherwell. Another component of the Abstract Expressionist school used large planes of color,
often to evoke invisible spiritual states. The color-field painters include Branett Newman and Mark Rathko poured
the acrilic stains onto unprimed canvases in order to make color an inherent part of their paintings.
The term Abstract Expressionism has also been applied to the work of sculptors such as Herbert
Ferber and David Hare.
- Abstraction at its foundation means approaching a class of phenomena or ideas without relation to
a larger or more integrated whole. Abstract thought isolates phenomena, thought, or ideas and stresses
internal coherence over integration with wider phenomenon.
The range of human activities that are referred to as "abstract" or "abstracting" are incredibly large,
ranging from speculative philosophy to painting, from physics to music. When applied to philosophy, abstract
thinking applies to two activities: a.) speculative philosophy and b.) thinking about the structures of thought itself. In
the first instance, speculative philosophy is concerned not with relating conclusions to the phenomenal world, but simply
the internal consistency of the thought itself. In the second instance, the concern is not with thinking about any object or
problem, but with understanding the internal coherence of thinking itself. When applied to visual art, abstraction always
means an overriding concern with the internal design of a work of art rather than with the relationship of the work of art to
phenomenal reality. When applied to social structure, abstraction refers to social relationships founded not on real, biological
relationships but on temporary categories, such as "teacher-student," "employer-employee," and so on. When applied to the
modern world view, abstraction describes the modern tendency to view separate aspects of our lives as completely separable
from other aspects. With these and many other applications of the term, it is perhaps best to approach the meaning of the term by looking
closely at the origins of abstraction in the modern world view.
Abstraction as a modern phenomenon seems to have taken hold in the earliest years of the twentieth
century. Several superficially unrelated cultural changes all occurred at roughly the same time: in the
first couple decades of the twentieth century. Let's do a series of case studies:
abstract art, atonal music, relativity, and Keynesian economics.
- Academic Art
- Academic art is the painting and sculpture produced under the influence of the European Academics.
It is characterized by highly finished style, its use of historical or mythological subject matter,
and its moralistic tome. Neoclassical Art was closely associated with the Academics.
The term Academic Art is associated particularly with the French Academy and its influence on the Salons
in the 19th century. Artists such as Adolphe William Bouguereau and Jean-Leon Gerome epitomize this style.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- arcade(Lat. arcus, "arch")
- 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.
- architectonic(Gk. arkhitektonikos, "architectural")
- Relating to structure, design, or organization.
- architrave(It. "chiefbeam")
- 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.
- archivolt (Ital. archivolto, "front arch," from Gk. archeiu, "begin, dominate," and Lat. voltus, "turned")
- 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.
- Ars Moriendi(Lat. "the art of dying well")
- 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.
- Art History
- historical study of the visual arts, being concerned with identifying, classifying, describing,
evaluating, interpreting, and understanding the
art products and historic development of the fields of painting, sculpture, architecture,
the decorative arts, drawing, printmaking, photography, interior design, etc. Art historical research has two primary concerns.
The first is to discover who made a particular object (attribution), to
authenticate an art object, determining whether it was indeed made by the artist to whom it is traditionally attributed, to determine
at what stage in a culture's development or in an artist's career the object in question was made, to assay the influence of one
artist on succeeding ones in the historical past and to gather biographical data on artists and documentation (provenance) on the previous
whereabouts and ownership of particular works of art.
The second primary concern of art historical research is to understand the stylistic and formal development of artistic traditions on a large
scale and within a broad historical perspective; this chiefly involves the enumeration and analyses of the various artistic styled, periods,
movements, and schools of the past. Art history also involves iconography, which is the analysis of symbols, themes, and subject matter in
visual arts, particularly the meaning of religious symbolism in Christian art.
- atonal misic
Atonal music. The process of abstraction in Western art was a slow process, beginning in the middle of the
nineteenth century as the design elements of painting began to take precedence over the standard of observed
reality. The same process occurred in music as well, only this involved the gradual abandonment of tonality.
Tonal music is based on a key signature, a set of notes in a clearly defined harmonic array. When you listen to tonal music,
you make sense of it by relating what you're listening to the key signature or tonal scale that it's based on. For instance, in the
C major scale, there are seven tones in the scale and C is the foundation of that scale. A piece of music written in C major
will tend to use those seven notes and combine them in specfic ways (the first and third notes of the scale,
the first and sixth notes of the scale, and so on); that piece of music will also tend to resolve itself, either in individual parts
or at the end, with C. That is, the foundation of the scale tends to be, in some way, the foundation of the music's conclusion.
When the piece of music departs from those seven notes, you understand that departure because you understand tonality.
Most human musics are tonal, but not all use the Western tonal system of seven notes; some use more, some less.
So when you listen to a piece of tonal music, you make sense of it by relating the sounds you hear to two things: in the first
place you relate the sounds you hear to the standard imposed by the key signature; in the second place you relate the sounds
to each other, that is, to the internal design of the piece.
Atonal music, on the other hand, is based on no key signature. If you try to listen to the music and relate the sounds you hear
to a tonal scale, you will hear nothing but garbage. The only way to listen to atonal music is to simply listen to the relationship
of each note to the other notes. As in abstract painting, an externally imposed standard has been removed from the process of
understanding and the only aspect of the music left is its internal relationships.
- attribute(Lat. attributum, "added")
- 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.
- Augsburg confession
- 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.
- aureole (Lat. aureolus - "golden, beautiful")
- 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: i
t belonged to the Angevin princes of Naples. "Captivity",
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
- 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.
- Baroque(Port. barocco, "an irregular pearl
- 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, Uermeer). 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.
- barrel vault
- 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.
(Gk. stoa basilike - "king's hall")
- 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.
- Bolognese school
- 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.
- Book of the Dead (The)
A series of almost 200 texts, songs and pictures from ancient Egypt, written on papyrus,
that were tailored to the life of a deceased person and buried along with that person in order
to ease his or her passage through the land of the dead into the
underworld, the abode of the gods.
- Book of Hours
- 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.
- bottom view
- A form of perspective in painting that takes account of the viewer's
position well below the level of the picture.
- bozzetto (Italian, sketch)
- 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.
- Byzantine art
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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.
- Cardinal Virtues (Lat. cardinalis, "hinge")
- 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.
- Carmelites (Lat. Ordo Fratrum Beatae Mariae Virginis de Monte Carmelo)
- "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.
- cartellino, pl. cartellini
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
- Carthusian Order (Lat. Ordo Cartusiensis)
- 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.
- cartoon (It. cartone, "pasteboard")
- 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.
- caryatid (Gk. "priestess")
- A carved female figure used in architecture as a column to support an
- Cascina, battle of
- 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.
- cassone (It. chest)
- 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.
- cathedral (cathedra, seat or throne)
- 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.
- Catherine of Alexandria, Saint (legend)
- The story of Catherine of Alexandria is found in the "Golden Legend".
She was supposed to have been a Christian convert of noble birth who, in a vision,
was married to the
Infant Christ. (See Parmigianino's painting of "quot;The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine".)
The Roman emperor Maxentius sent 50 philosophers to persuade her to abandon her faith, but she,
by her argument, converted them to Christianity.
She was tortured by being bound to four wheels with spikes in them. These were destroyed by a miraculous
thunderbolt, but she was eventually beheaded. A wheel, as her attribute, is usually included in paintings of her.
Her cult began in the 9th century on Mount Sinai, where her body was supposed to have been transported by angels.
- Catholic reform
- 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).
- central perspective (Lat. centralis, "in the centre", and
perspicere, "see clearly")
- 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.
- cherub (plural cherubim)
- 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.
- chiaroscuro (It. "light dark")
- 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.
- chiaroscuro woodcut
- 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.
- choir (Gk. choros, "group of singers and dancers")
- 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.
- Christus Patiens and Christus Triumphans
- 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
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
- 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.
- ciompi, revolt of the
- 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.
- cithara (Gk.)
- An ancient musical instrument, resembling a lyre, on which strings were plucked.
They were often used to accompany a singer or someone reciting poetry.
- clair-obscur (Fr. "light-dark")
- 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.
- cloth of honour
- 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
- cognoscenti, sing. cognoscente (It. "those who know")
- Connoisseurs of art, literature or music; those with refined tastes.
- Compagnia de San Luca (Guild of St. Luke)
- The painters' guild in Florence (named after St. Luke because he
was believed to have painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary).
- complementary colours
- 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.
- Compline(Lat. hora completa - "completed hour")
- The last prayers of the day; the church service at which these prayers are said.
- Composition is the term given to a complete work of art and, more specifically, to the
way in which all its elements work together to produce an overall effect. A "static composition",
for example, might stress horizontal and vertical accents, closure at the edges of the painting,
and subdued colour and tonal contrasts, to give an effect of orderliness and repose.
A more "dynamic composition", such as in Rubens' works, on the
other hand, might be based on intersecting diagonals, a lack of closure, vigorous
contrasts of colour and light and dark accents - stressing movement, activity, conflict.
- concetto, pl. concetti (It. "concept")
- 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.
- condottiere, pl. condottieri (It. "leader")
- 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.
- Contour (Fr. contour, "outline")
- 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.
- contrapposto (It. "placed opposite")
- 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.
- conventicle (Lat. conventiculurn, "meeting place")
- A religious meeting or society.
- Copperplate engraving (late Lat. cuprum; Lat. aes cyprium,
"ore from the island of Cyprus")
- 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.
- Cosmati work
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
- 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.
- cupola (Lat. cupula, "small vat")
- In architecture, a small dome, usually one set on a much larger dome
or on a roof; a semi-circular vault.