Goldbeating is the process of hammering gold into an thin unbroken sheet for use in gilding. 5,000 years ago, Egyptian artisans recognized the extraordinary durability and malleability of gold and became the first goldbeaters and gilders. They pounded gold using a round stone to create the thinnest leaf possible. Except for the introduction of a cast iron hammer and a few other innovations, the tools and techniques have remained unchanged for thousands of years; the karat and color of gold leaf varies depending on the amount of silver or copper added to the gold. Most goldbeaters make 23 karat leaf; the gold and its alloy are melted in a furnace. The liquid gold is poured into a mold to cast it into a bar; the bar of gold is put through a rolling mill repeatedly. Each time through the mill, the rollers are adjusted closer and closer to each other, to make the gold thinner and thinner; the bar is rolled to a thickness of 25 µm. After rolling, the ribbon of gold is cut into one-inch squares; the first step in the beating process is called the cutch.
The cutch is made up of 150 skins. In the early days of the trade, ox intestine membrane was used to interleave the gold as it was beaten. Today other materials, such as Mylar, are used. Using wooden pincers, the preparer picks up each square of gold and places it in the center of each skin; when the cutch is filled with the small gold squares, it is wrapped in several bands of parchment which serve to hold the packet together during the beating. Parchment is still the best material known to withstand the hours of repeated hammer blows needed to beat the gold; the gold is beaten on a heavy block of marble or granite. These stone blocks were sometimes placed on top of a tree trunk set deep into the ground; this created greater resiliency for the hammer. Beating of the cutch by hand takes about one hour using a fifteen-pound hammer; the goldbeater instinctively follows a pattern and sets up a rhythm, striking the packet with up to seventy strokes a minute. The packet is rotated and turned over to ensure that the gold inside expands evenly in all directions.
The original small squares of gold are beaten until they have expanded to the outer edges of the four inch square cutch. The gold is taken out of the cutch and each piece is cut into four pieces with a knife. Using the pincers, these squares of gold are put into a second packet called the shoder, which has 1,500 skins; the shoder is beaten for about three hours. The gold is placed on a leather-covered surface; the gold is thin enough now that the cutter can blow on it to flatten it out. Using a wooden implement called a wagon, the gold is cut into four pieces and placed in a packet called a mold for the final beating; the wagon has sharp cutting blades, traditionally made from malacca cane. The mold contains 1,500 pieces of gold. Before the mold is filled with gold, the skins are coated with a gypsum powder; this process prevents the delicate gold leaf from sticking to the skins. The mold is beaten with an eight-pound hammer for three to four hours until it has been beaten into a circle about six inches in diameter.
The finished leaf forms an unbroken sheet of gold with a thickness of 1/250,000 of an inch. After the leaves are taken out of the mold, they are conventionally cut into a three and three-eighth inch square and packaged in tissue-paper books containing twenty-five leaves. Metal leaf Gilding Mosaic gold Tin sulfide Gold Beating sections from 1903 American Library Edition Of Workshop Receipts Vol5 by Ernest Spon Goldschlägerstadt Schwabach illustrated history of goldbeating Gold Beating 1959 and Gold Beating Out Takes 1950-1959, two British Pathé newsreel clips depicting the goldbeating process "Goldbeating". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911
Piero the Unfortunate
Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici, called Piero the Unfortunate, was the gran maestro of Florence from 1492 until his exile in 1494. Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici was the eldest son of Lorenzo de' Clarice Orsini, he was raised alongside his younger brother Giovanni, who would go on to become Pope Leo X, his cousin Giulio, who would become Pope Clement VII. He was educated to succeed his father as head of the Medici family and de facto ruler of the Florentine state, under figures such as Angelo Poliziano or Ficino. However, his feeble and undisciplined character was to prove unsuited to such a role. Poliziano died poisoned by Piero on 24 September 1494. Piero took over as leader of Florence upon Lorenzo's death. After a brief period of relative calm, the fragile Pacific equilibrium between the Italian states, laboriously constructed by Piero's father, collapsed in 1494 with the decision of King Charles VIII of France to cross the Alps with an army in order to assert hereditary claims to the Kingdom of Naples.
Charles had been lured to Italy by Ludovico Sforza, ex-regent of Milan, as a way to eject Ludovico's nephew Gian Galeazzo Sforza and replace him as duke. After settling matters in Milan, Charles moved towards Naples, he needed to pass through Tuscany, as well as leave troops there to secure his lines of communication with Milan. Piero attempted to stay neutral, but this was unacceptable to Charles, who intended to invade Tuscany. Piero attempted to mount a resistance, but received little support from members of Florentine elites who had fallen under the influence of the fanatical Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola. Piero gave up as Charles's army neared Florence and surrendered the chief fortresses of Tuscany to the invading army, giving Charles everything he demanded, his poor handling of the situation and failure to negotiate better terms led to an uproar in Florence, the Medici family fled. The family palazzo was looted, the substance as well as the form of the Republic of Florence was re-established with the Medici formally exiled.
A member of the Medici family was not to rule Florence again until 1512, after Giovanni de' Medici was elected Pope Leo X. Piero and his family fled at first to Venice with the aid of the French diplomat Philippe de Commines, a retainer of Charles VIII. In 1503, as the French and Spanish continued their struggle in Italy over the Kingdom of Naples, Piero was drowned in the Garigliano River while attempting to flee the aftermath of the Battle of Garigliano, which the French had lost. In 1486, Piero's uncle Bernardo Rucellai negotiated for Piero to marry the Tuscan noblewoman Alfonsina Orsini and stood in for him in a marriage by proxy. Piero and Alfonsina met in 1488, she was a daughter of Roberto Orsini, Count of Tagliacozzo, Caterina Sanseverino. They had two children: Duke of Urbino. Clarice de' Medici, she married Filippo Strozzi the Younger.. Tomas, Natalie R.. The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. P. 246. ISBN 0754607771
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, architect and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing. Vasari was born on 30 July 1511 in Tuscany. Recommended at an early age by his cousin Luca Signorelli, he became a pupil of Guglielmo da Marsiglia, a skillful painter of stained glass. Sent to Florence at the age of sixteen by Cardinal Silvio Passerini, he joined the circle of Andrea del Sarto and his pupils Rosso Fiorentino and Jacopo Pontormo, where his humanist education was encouraged, he was befriended by Michelangelo. He died on 27 June 1574 in Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, aged 62. In 1529, he visited Rome where he studied the works of Raphael and other artists of the Roman High Renaissance. Vasari's own Mannerist paintings were more admired in his lifetime than afterwards. In 1547 he completed the hall of the chancery in Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome with frescoes that received the name Sala dei Cento Giorni.
He was employed by members of the Medici family in Florence and Rome, worked in Naples and other places. Many of his pictures still exist, the most important being the wall and ceiling paintings in the Sala di Cosimo I in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where he and his assistants were at work from 1555, the frescoes begun by him inside the vast cupola of the Duomo were completed by Federico Zuccari and with the help of Giovanni Balducci, he helped to organize the decoration of the Studiolo, now reassembled in the Palazzo Vecchio. In Rome he painted frescos in the Sala Regia. Among his other pupils or followers are included Sebastiano Flori, Bartolomeo Carducci, Domenico Benci, Tommaso del Verrocchio, Federigo di Lamberto, Niccolo Betti, Vittor Casini, Mirabello Cavalori, Jacopo Coppi, Piero di Ridolfo, Stefano Veltroni of Monte San Savino, Orazio Porta of Monte San Savino, Alessandro Fortori of Arezzo, Bastiano Flori of Arezzo, Fra Salvatore Foschi of Arezzo, Andrea Aretino. Aside from his career as a painter, Vasari was successful as an architect.
His loggia of the Palazzo degli Uffizi by the Arno opens up the vista at the far end of its long narrow courtyard. It is a unique piece of urban planning that functions as a public piazza, which, if considered as a short street, is unique as a Renaissance street with a unified architectural treatment; the view of the Loggia from the Arno reveals that, with the Vasari Corridor, it is one of few structures that line the river which are open to the river itself and appear to embrace the riverside environment. In Florence, Vasari built the long passage, now called Vasari Corridor, which connects the Uffizi with the Palazzo Pitti on the other side of the river; the enclosed corridor passes alongside the River Arno on an arcade, crosses the Ponte Vecchio and winds around the exterior of several buildings. It was once the home of the Mercado de Vecchio, he renovated the medieval churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce. At both he removed the original rood screen and loft, remodelled the retro-choirs in the Mannerist taste of his time.
In Santa Croce, he was responsible for the painting of The Adoration of the Magi, commissioned by Pope Pius V in 1566 and completed in February 1567. It was restored, before being put on exhibition in 2011 in Rome and in Naples, it is planned to return it to the church of Santa Croce in Bosco Marengo. In 1562 Vasari built the octagonal dome on the Basilica of Our Lady of Humility in Pistoia, an important example of high Renaissance architecture. In Rome, Vasari worked with Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Bartolomeo Ammannati at Pope Julius III's Villa Giulia. Called "the first art historian", Vasari invented the genre of the encyclopedia of artistic biographies with his Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori, dedicated to Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, first published in 1550, he was the first to use the term "Renaissance" in print, though an awareness of the ongoing "rebirth" in the arts had been in the air since the time of Alberti, he was responsible for our use of the term Gothic Art, though he only used the word Goth which he associated with the "barbaric" German style.
The Lives included a novel treatise on the technical methods employed in the arts. The book was rewritten and enlarged in 1568, with the addition of woodcut portraits of artists; the work has a consistent and notorious bias in favour of Florentines, tends to attribute to them all the developments in Renaissance art – for example, the invention of engraving. Venetian art in particular, is systematically ignored in the first edition. Between the first and second editions, Vasari visited Venice and while the second edition gave more attention to Venetian art, it did so without achieving a neutral point of view. There are many inaccuracies within his Lives. For example, Vasari writes that Andrea del Castagno killed Domenico Veneziano, not true, given Andrea died several years before Domenico. In another example, Vasari's biography of Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, whom he calls "Il Soddoma," published only in the Lives' second edition after Bazzi's death, condemns the artist as being immoral and vain. Vasari dismisses Bazzi's work as being lazy and offensive, despite the artist's having been named a Cavaliere di Crist
Girolamo Savonarola was an Italian Dominican friar and preacher active in Renaissance Florence. He was known for his prophecies of civic glory, the destruction of secular art and culture, his calls for Christian renewal, he denounced despotic rule and the exploitation of the poor. He prophesied the coming of a biblical flood and a new Cyrus from the north who would reform the Church. In September 1494, when Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, threatened Florence, such prophecies seemed on the verge of fulfilment. While Savonarola intervened with the French king, the Florentines expelled the ruling Medici and, at the friar's urging, established a "popular" republic. Declaring that Florence would be the New Jerusalem, the world centre of Christianity and "richer, more powerful, more glorious than ever", he instituted an extreme puritanical campaign, enlisting the active help of Florentine youth. In 1495 when Florence refused to join Pope Alexander VI's Holy League against the French, the Vatican summoned Savonarola to Rome.
He disobeyed and further defied the pope by preaching under a ban, highlighting his campaign for reform with processions, bonfires of the vanities, pious theatricals. In retaliation, the pope excommunicated him in May 1497, threatened to place Florence under an interdict. A trial by fire proposed by a rival Florentine preacher in April 1498 to test Savonarola's divine mandate turned into a fiasco, popular opinion turned against him. Savonarola and two of his supporting friars were imprisoned. On 23 May 1498, Church and civil authorities condemned and burned the three friars in the main square of Florence. Savonarola's devotees, the Piagnoni, kept his cause of republican freedom and religious reform alive well into the following century, although the Medici—restored to power in 1512 with the help of the papacy—eventually broke the movement; some Protestants consider Savonarola to be a vital precursor of the Reformation. Savonarola was born on 21 September 1452, in Ferrara, his grandfather, Michele Savonarola, was a noted physician and polymath.
Savonarola's mother Elena claimed a lineage from the Bonacossi family of Mantua. She and her husband Niccolo' had seven children, his grandfather was a successful physician who oversaw his education. His family had amassed a great deal of wealth from his medical practice. After his grandfather's death in 1468, Savonarola may have attended the public school run by Battista Guarino, son of Guarino da Verona, where he would have received his introduction to the classics as well as to the poetry and writings of Petrarch, father of Renaissance humanism. Earning an arts degree at the University of Ferrara, he prepared to enter medical school, following in his grandfather's footsteps. At some point, however, he abandoned his career intentions. In his early poems, he expresses his preoccupation of the world, he began to write poetry of an apocalyptic bent, notably "On the Ruin of the World" and "On the Ruin of the Church", in which he singled out the papal court at Rome for special obloquy. About the same time, he seems to have been thinking about a life in religion.
As he told his biographer, a sermon he heard by a preacher in Faenza persuaded him to abandon the world. Most of his biographers reject or ignore the account of his younger brother and follower, that in his youth Girolamo had been spurned by a neighbour, Laudomia Strozzi, to whom he proposed marriage. True or not, in a letter he wrote to his father when he left home to join the Dominican Order he hints at being troubled by desires of the flesh. There is a story that on the eve of his departure he dreamed that he was cleansed of such thoughts by a shower of icy water which prepared him for the ascetic life. In the unfinished treatise he left behind called "De contemptu mundi", or "On Contempt for the World", he calls upon readers to fly from this world of adultery, sodomy and envy. On 25 April 1475, Girolamo Savonarola went to Bologna where he knocked on the door of the Convent of San Domenico, of the Order of Friars Preachers, asked to be admitted; as he told his father in his farewell letter, he wanted to become a knight of Christ.
In the convent, Savonarola took vows of poverty and obedience and after a year was ordained to the priesthood. He studied Scripture, Aristotelian philosophy and Thomistic theology in the Dominican studium, practised preaching to his fellow friars and engaged in disputations, he matriculated in the theological faculty to prepare for an advanced degree. As he continued to write devotional works and to deepen his spiritual life he was critical of what he perceived as the decline in convent austerity. In 1478 his studies were interrupted when he was sent to the Dominican priory of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Ferrara as assistant master of novices; the assignment might have been a normal, temporary break from the academic routine, but in Savonarola's case it was a turning point. One explanation is that he had alienated certain of his superiors fra Vincenzo Bandelli, or Bandello, a professor at the studium and future master general of the Dominicans, who resented the young friar's opposition to modifying the Order's rules against the ownership of property.
In 1482, instead of returning to Bologna to resume his studies, Savonarola was assigned as lector, or teacher, in the Convent of San Marco in Florence. In San Marco, fra Girolamo taught logic to the novices, wrote instructional manuals on ethics, logic and government, composed devotional works, prepared his sermons for local congregations. As
Biblioteca Nacional de España
The Biblioteca Nacional de España is a major public library, the largest in Spain, one of the largest in the world. It is located on the Paseo de Recoletos; the library was founded by King Philip V in 1712 as the Palace Public Library. The Royal Letters Patent that he granted, the predecessor of the current legal deposit requirement, made it mandatory for printers to submit a copy of every book printed in Spain to the library. In 1836, the library's status as Crown property was revoked and ownership was transferred to the Ministry of Governance. At the same time, it was renamed the Biblioteca Nacional. During the 19th century, confiscations and donations enabled the Biblioteca Nacional to acquire the majority of the antique and valuable books that it holds. In 1892 the building was used to host the Historical American Exposition. On March 16, 1896, the Biblioteca Nacional opened to the public in the same building in which it is housed and included a vast Reading Room on the main floor designed to hold 320 readers.
In 1931 the Reading Room was reorganised, providing it with a major collection of reference works, the General Reading Room was created to cater for students and general readers. During the Spanish Civil War close to 500,000 volumes were collected by the Confiscation Committee and stored in the Biblioteca Nacional to safeguard works of art and books held until in religious establishments and private houses. During the 20th century numerous modifications were made to the building to adapt its rooms and repositories to its expanding collections, to the growing volume of material received following the modification to the Legal Deposit requirement in 1958, to the numerous works purchased by the library. Among this building work, some of the most noteworthy changes were the alterations made in 1955 to triple the capacity of the library's repositories, those started in 1986 and completed in 2000, which led to the creation of the new building in Alcalá de Henares and complete remodelling of the building on Paseo de Recoletos, Madrid.
In 1986, when Spain's main bibliographic institutions - the National Newspaper Library, the Spanish Bibliographic Institute and the Centre for Documentary and Bibliographic Treasures - were incorporated into the Biblioteca Nacional, the library was established as the State Repository of Spain's Cultural Memory, making all of Spain's bibliographic output on any media available to the Spanish Library System and national and international researchers and cultural and educational institutions. In 1990 it was made an Autonomous Entity attached to the Ministry of Culture; the Madrid premises are shared with the National Archaeological Museum. The Biblioteca Nacional is Spain's highest library institution and is head of the Spanish Library System; as the country's national library, it is the centre responsible for identifying, preserving and disseminating information about Spain's documentary heritage, it aspires to be an essential point of reference for research into Spanish culture. In accordance with its Articles of Association, passed by Royal Decree 1581/1991 of October 31, 1991, its principal functions are to: Compile and conserve bibliographic archives produced in any language of the Spanish state, or any other language, for the purposes of research and information.
Promote research through the study and reproduction of its bibliographic archive. Disseminate information on Spain's bibliographic output based on the entries received through the legal deposit requirement; the library's collection consists of more than 26,000,000 items, including 15,000,000 books and other printed materials, 4,500,000 graphic materials, 600,000 sound recordings, 510,000 music scores, more than 500,000 microforms, 500,000 maps, 143,000 newspapers and serials, 90,000 audiovisuals, 90,000 electronic documents, 30,000 manuscripts. The current director of the Biblioteca Nacional is Ana Santos Aramburo, appointed in 2013. Former directors include her predecessors Glòria Pérez-Salmerón and Milagros del Corral as well as historian Juan Pablo Fusi and author Rosa Regàs. Given its role as the legal deposit for the whole of Spain, since 1991 it has kept most of the overflowing collection at a secondary site in Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid; the Biblioteca Nacional provides access to its collections through the following library services: Guidance and general information on the institution and other libraries.
Bibliographic information about its collection and those held by other libraries or library systems. Access to its automated catalogue, which contains close to 3,000,000 bibliographic records encompassing all of its collections. Archive consultation in the library's reading rooms. Interlibrary loans. Archive reproduction. Biblioteca Digital Hispánica, digital library launched in 2008 by the Biblioteca Nacional de España List of libraries in Spain Media related to Biblioteca Nacional de España at Wikimedia Commons Official site Official web catalog