As historical climatologists have not shown that Renaissance Italian winters and springs were warmer than they are now, it is puzzling that Italy did not fabricate tapestries to decorate and draught-proof the stony rooms of its palaces until 1545, when Cosimo I set up a manufactory in Florence. To hardiness or stinginess (tapestry was by far the most expensive form of wall decoration) we owe the existence of such secular frescoed decorative schemes as the labours of the months in the castle at Trent (c. 1407), the Arthurian scenes of Pisanello and the courtly ones of Mantegna in the Ducal Palace of Mantua, the delicious calendar fantasies of Cossa and others in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara - and, doubtless, many others that await liberation from whitewash or later panelling. These are all in situations where northern patrons would have used tapestries.
These were imported, chiefly from Flanders, into Italy. The influence of their hunting and ceremonial scenes in particular registered on Italian 'gothic' painting or illumination and stained glass, and in literature. But the Italians did not make them. The most famous of all 'Italian' tapestries, those for the Sistine Chapel designed by Raphael, were made in Brussels from the full-scale coloured patterns, or cartoons, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Nor is it clear whether imported tapestries were used habitually or simply to add grandeur to special occasions. Even when Cosimo's manufactory was in being, and working from designs by court artists of the calibre of Bronzino, Salviati and Allori, his own headquarters, the Palace of the Signoria (now the Palazzo Vecchio), was being decorated with frescoes. The subject is underexplored.
tempera (Lat. temperare, "to mix in due proportion")
A method of painting in which the pigments are mixed with an emulsion of water and egg yolks or whole eggs (sometimes glue or milk). Tempera was widely used in Italian art in the 14th and 15th centuries, both for panel painting and fresco, then being replaced by oil paint. Tempera colors are bright and translucent, though because the paint dried very quickly there is little time to blend them, graduated tones being created by adding lighter or darker dots or lines of color to an area of dried paint.
In perspective, the point on the horizon at which sets of lines representing parallel lines will converge.
vanitas (Lat. "emptiness")
A painting (or element in painting) that acts as a reminder of the inevitabiliry of death, and the pointlessness of earthly ambitions and achievements. Common vanitas-symbols include skulls, guttering candles, hour-glasses and clocks, overturned vessels, and even flowers (which will soon fade). The vanitas theme became popular during the Baroque, with the vanitas still life flourishing in Dutch art.
varietа (It. "variety")
In Renaissance art theory, a work's richness of subject matter. Also varietas (Lat.).
A roof or ceiling whose structure is based on the arch. There are a wide range of forms, including the barrel (or tunnel) vault, formed by a continuous semi-circular arch; the groin vault, formed when two barrel vaults intersect; and the rib vault, consistong of a framework of diagonal ribs supporting interlocking arches. The development of the various forms was of great structural and aesthetic importance in the development of church architecture during the Middle Ages.
veduta (Italian for view)
a primarily topographical representation of a town or landscape that is depicted in such a life-like manner that the location can be identified.
Conflict between Pope Gregory XI and an Italian coalition headed by Florence, which resulted in the return of the papacy from Avignon to Rome. In 1375, provoked by the aggressiveness of the Pope's legates in Italy, Florence incited a widespread revolt in the Papal States. The Pope retaliated by excommunicating the Florentines (March 1376), but their war council, the Otto di Guerra (popularly known as the Eight Saints), continued to defy him. In 1377 Gregory sent an army under Cardinal Robert of Geneva to ravage the areas in revolt, while he himself returned to Italy to secure his possession of Rome. Thus ended the papacy's 70-year stay in France. The war ended with a compromise peace concluded at Tivoli in July 1378.
X-ray photos are used to examine the undersurfaces of a painting. They allow scholars to see what changes were made during the original painting or by other hands, usually restorers, during its subsequent history.