A1 Top 150 artists (375 CE – 1399)

Forward to A2 – Artists – Forward to S1 Sculptors
Back to 1.9 ultcult Charts – Back to Pre-A1 – Artists – Back to 1 Art and Sculpture Index

Zhan Ziqian 展子虔
Yan Liben 博陵文貞男
[Trier Gospels]
[The Cross, Hagia Irene]
[Lorsch Gospels]
[Book of Kells]
[Forty Martyrs of Sebaste]
Li Cheng 李成
Ferdowsi فردوسی
Fan Kuan 范寬
[Theotokos of Vladimir]

al-Idrisi أبو عبد الله محمد الإدريسي القرطبي الحسني السبتي‎
Yahya ibn Mahmud يحيى بن محمود الواسطي‎
Hamadani رشیدالدین طبیب
Qian Xuan 钱选
Duccio di Buoninsegna
Giotto di Bondone
Lorenzetti, Ambrogio
Bonesegna, Giovanni Paolo
Ni Zan 倪瓚
Wang Meng 王蒙

Note that to minimise the entries and the opportunity for confusion, the text and image sources are not shown here – do follow the links to the artists or their works and you will find a proper acknowledgement of the sources.

Zhan Ziquan, was a famous painter in the Siu dynasty. He painted within a number of genres and produced religion paintings which have not survived. His paintings of pavilions. people and horses were much admired.

The only painting by him that has ‘survived’ is this landscape, Strolling About in Spring, a perspective arrangement of mountains.

It is cited as the earliest surviving work of Chinese landscape painting and the first shan shui (brush and ink) painting.

Zhan Ziqian 展子虔
? – 617
(detail taken from his
Studying Classics)

Strolling About in Spring
(c7th c)

Yan Liben (or Lipen)

Emperor Wen of Sui

Emperor Yang Guang of Sui (569-618)

The top image is Emperor Wen of Sui, aka Yang Jian (541-604), taken from the Thirteen Emperors Scroll, believed to be produced by
Yan Liben (aka LiPen).

Wen founded the Sui Dynasty in 581 by reunifying the country, this was a prosperous period. He was its first emperor and reportedly an able administrator. He started the construction of the Grand Canal, the longest canal or artificial river in the world at 1776 kms, linking the Yellow River and Yangtze River. As a Buddhist, he encouraged the spread of Buddhism through the state.

Emperor Wen is also known for recording the smallest number of concubines for an adult Chinese emperor. He had just two and it is suggested he might not have had sexual relations with them until after the death in 602 of his wife Empress Dugu, whom he reportedly loved and respected deeply.

The lower image is Emperor Yang Guang of Sui (569-618). He was the second son of Emperor Wen. He committed himself to large construction projects, completing the Grand Canal, and reconstructing the Great Wall. The latter project took the lives of nearly six million workers. He ordered several military expeditions that brought Sui to its territorial zenith.
The Trier Gospels were written by two scribes between the years 720 and 740 A.D. in Echternach Abbey.

They used Merovingian script and art for the ornamental initial. This image is their depiction of St Matthew.

The gospels are currently located at Trier Cathedral Treasury.

Compare this with the two Carolingian St Marks.

Trier Gospels

The Cross, Hagia Irene, Istanbul

Hagia Irene, aka Saint Irene, is an Eastern Orthodox church within the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. It is one of the few churches in Istanbul that has not been converted into a mosque, but only because it was used for storing weapons and ammunition in the 19th c. Today it is a museum and concert hall.

The image shows a mosaic of a cross, outlined in black with a gold background. The ends are teardrop shaped. It is at the base of the semidome and was created during a reconstruction by Constantine V.
The Lorsch Gospels aka Codex Aureus of Lorsch is from Charlemagne’s Court School. It is an illuminated Gospel Book written in Latin.

The carved ivory cover panels (above) are important survivals from the period’s art and on show at the Victoria & Albert Museum London.

The Gospels of Matthew and Mark are at the Batthyaneum Library, Alba Iulia, Romania.

The Gospels of Luke and John are held by the Vatican Library.

Lorsch Gospels
carved ivory covers

Book of Kells


The Book of Kells (sometimes known as the Book of Columba) is an illuminated manuscript Gospel Book in Latin. It contains the four Gospels of the New Testament, its text drawn from the Vulgate, together with various prefatory texts and tables.

It was created in a Columban monastery in either Scotland, England, or Ireland or as likely has contributions from each of these areas. It is believed to have been created c800 CE.

The middle image is folio 34r and shows the Chi Ro monogram, Chi and Ro being the first two letters of the word Christ in Greek.

The lower image is folio 7v and shows an image of the Virgin and Child, the oldest extant image of the Virgin Mary in a Western manuscript.

It is on show at the Trinity College Library, Dublin.
This ivory relief is from Constantinople and dates to 10th c. These are the forty Roman soldiers. serving Agricola in Armenia and being martyred for their Christian faith in 320. [Agricola was a Roman general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain].

In 1499 Luca Signorelli produced a fresco at the Orvieto Cathedral , Paradise and Hell, in Umbria that uses a similar composition. It is held at the BODE Museum in Berlin Germany.

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

Li Cheng 李成
[image taken from his
Reading the Stele]

Buddhist Temple in Mountain

Li Cheng was a Chinese (Five Dynasties and Song Dynasty era) painter, he was based at Qingzhou.

This image is a detail from his Five Dynasties Buddhist Temple in Mountain.

In the full picture the temple is shown from a considerable distance, in order to present its remote surroundings.
Ferdowsi was a Persian Poet from the Islamic Golden Age and operated around Tus.

The Shahnameh (aka The Book of Kings) is an epic poem written by Ferdowsi. It consists of around 50,000 couplets and is thus one of the world’s longest epic poems.

It tells the part mythical and part historical account of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world until the Muslim conquest in the seventh century.

This image is from the Shahnameh and shows Sassanian shahanshah Bahram Gur and his courtiers being entertained by Barbad the Musician. This is on show at the Brooklyn Museum.

Ferdowsi فردوسی
(Abul-Qâsem Ferdowsi Tusi)


Fan Kuan 范寬

Travellers Among Mountains and Streams

Fan Kuan (or Fan Quan) was a Tang Dynasty/Song Dynasty painter operating in Shaanxi.

Travellers Among Mountains and Streams is a 213 cm tall hanging scroll

Travellers among Mountains and Streams, a large hanging scroll, is Fan Kuan’s best known work and a seminal painting of the Northern Song school.

In 1958 a scholar found that the artist had inserted a tiny signature near the line of mules and men who are threading their way through the rocky paths.
The Theotokos of Vladimir aka Virgin of Vladimir is a 12th c Byzantine icon depicting the Virgin and Child and an early example of the Eleusa iconographic type.

Eleusa images are also termed as a Virgin of Tenderness, with the Christ child nestled against the Virgin’s cheek.

This is one of the most culturally significant and celebrated pieces of art in Russian history.

The Vladimir refers to the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimar where the icon was located for a period. It is today at the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Theotokos of Vladimir

al-Idrisi, Abu Abdullah Muhammad
أبو عبد الله محمد الإدريسي القرطبي الحسني السبتي‎

al-Idrisi’s world atlas

The image is an introductory overview map from al-Idrisi’s world atlas.

It helps to know that South is at the top of the map and that large land mass is Africa.

Navigational sciences were developed during this period through the use of a kamal, a proto-sextant. With this and detailed maps, sailors sailded the oceans rather than hugging the coast.

Islamic sailors reintroduced large, three-masted merchant vessels to the Mediterranean. The name caravel may derive from their qārib of this period.
The image depicts Scholars at the Abbasid library, the House of Wisdom, it is from a painting of the Islamic Golden Age, the Maqamat of al-Hariri by Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti of Baghdad.

It is dated to1237 and held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti يحيى بن محمود الواسطي‎
13th c
(Detail from another of his pictures)

Scholars at the Abbasid library

Hamadani, Rashid al-Din
رشیدالدین طبیب

Coronation of Ögedei Khan
(14th c)

Mongol archers detail from Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh

The conversion of Ghazan Khan to Islam detail from Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh

The top work is the Coronation of Ögedei Khan 窩闊台 of 1229, though created in the 14th c.

Ögedei was the third son of Genghis Khan and second khagan-emperor of the Mongol Empire, succeeding his father. Like all of Genghis’ primary sons, he participated extensively in conquests in China, Iran, and Central Asia. He continued the expansion of the empire that his father had begun, and was a world figure when the Mongol Empire reached its farthest extent west and south during the Mongol invasions of Europe and East Asia.

This work is attributed to Rashid al-Din Hamadani. He was born into a Persian Jewish family from Hamadana and rose to become a vizier, historian and physician in Ilkhanate-ruled Iran.

He was commissioned by Ghazan to write the Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh, now considered the most important single source for the history of the Ilkhanate period and the Mongol Empire.

Hamadani rapidly gained political status becoming, the vizier of emperor and Muslim convert Ghazan in 1304. He retained his position until 1316 serving three Khans. However, he was convicted of having poisoned the second of ‘his’ Khans, Öljaitü, and was executed in 1318.

A game of Cuju, an early form of football, is depicted being played by Emperor Taizu of Song, Emperor Taizong of Song, prime minister Zhao Pu and other ministers. The artist was Qian Xuan.

Qian Xuan 钱选

Cuju, the game of emperors

Duccio di Buoninsegna
(Self portrait within one of his works)

Madonna and Child

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Duccio_Maesta_2-1024x984.jpg

Duccio’s Madonna and Child was produced in tempera and gold on wood in 1290-1300. The dating based on its Byzantinesque features.

The Christ child is raising his hand to his mother’s austere gaze, her sorrow suggested as based upon a foreknowledge of his crucifixion. It’s small size suggests it was a devotional piece, borne out by the burnt edges along the bottom of the original frame caused by burning candles, that would have been set just beneath.

This work was early in the Renaissance and later artists would evolve the composition of this subject, which became something of a standard.

It was acquired by the Met in 2004 for $45m, in part because there are only thirteen known extant Duccio paintings.

Duccio’s Maestà, is his most famous work. It is an altarpiece composed of many individual paintings commissioned by the city of Siena in 1308 from the artist.

The front panels include a large enthroned Madonna and Child surrounded by saints and angels. A predella (shelf above the altar) shows the Childhood of Christ and a series of prophets. The reverse has cycle of the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ in a total of forty-three small scenes, though many are now lost.

The panel base bears an inscription, ‘Holy Mother of God, be thou the cause of peace for Siena and life to Duccio because he painted thee thus.’

It is considered to be ‘one of the landmarks of European painting’ by the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY USA.
The Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy has a remarkable fresco cycle by Giotto. It now forms part of the Museo Civico of Padua.

The cycle was completed about 1305 and considered to be an important masterpiece of Western art. The cycle is organised in four tiers, each with episodes from the stories. Each tier is divided into frames, each presenting a scene.

Ognissanti Madonna (Madonna Enthroned) was by Giotto di Bondone in 1310. The Christ Child is seated in the Virgin’s lap with saints and angels surrounding them.

It is on show at the Uffizi Gallery,  Florence Italy.

Giotto di Bondone

Scrovegni Chapel fresco cycle

Detail from the cycle, the Betrayal of Christ, by the kiss of Judas

Madonna Enthroned

Lorenzetti, Ambrogio

The Effects of Good Government on the City Life

Presentation at the Temple

The Effects of Good Government is one of a series of six fresco paintings by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. The series, ‘Allegory of Good and Bad Government’, is located in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. The frescos circulate the walls of the room and span the height of the wall. They are designed as a political warning as well as a model or goal for the government in Siena. They contrast the peace and prosperity of honest rule with the decay and ruin caused by tyranny.
This scene uses bright colours and vignettes of 14th c life in Siena to show the benefits of good government.

The other painting depicts the Presentation at the Temple, an event which should occur forty days after a child is born, as part of the purification of the mother.

This painting originally decorated the altar of St. Crescentius in the Cathedral of Siena. It was commissioned as part of a cycle of four altarpieces dedicated to the city’s patrons saints. It was referenced as a triptych by some early accounts.
The Pala d’Oro (Golden Cloth) is the high altar retable of the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, and is universally recognized as one of the most refined and accomplished works of Byzantine enamel.

It is thought to have been started in 976 by Doge Pietro Orseolo, and was expanded in 1105 by Doge Ordelaffo Falier.

In 1345 the goldsmith Giovanni Paolo Bonesegna was commissioned to complete the altarpiece.

The development was continued by other artists so that the whole is 3m wide and 2m tall. It is fabricated in gold and silver, has 187 enamel plaques and 1,927 gemstones. The lower image is a close-up view.

Giovanni Paolo Bonesegna
14th c Italian Goldsmith

Pala D’Oro

Pala D’Oro

Ni Zan 倪瓚

Still Streams and Winter Pines
Still Streams and Winter Pines is a hanging scroll, ink on paper, by Ni Zan 倪瓚.

He stripped down his technique to just the essential brushstrokes. 

His poem states that the painting is a present for a friend leaving to take up an official post, and to remind him of the joys of peaceful retirement.  

It is on show at the National Palace Museum, Beijing.

Secluded Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains, in Fu Xinian, is by Wang Meng, dated to 1366 (the end of the Yuan was 1368). This painting depicts the villa of a relative of the painter.

Wang Meng’s brushwork is different from Ni Zan’s, using many different types of strokes, packed close together to give a sense of nervous energy.

It is an ink on paper hanging scroll, on show at the Shanghai Museum.

Forest Grotto in Juqu is by Wang Meng.

The great masters of the Yuan Dynasty exclusively painted landscapes, which they believed to be the visible key to the invisible reality.

Wang Meng 王蒙
(detail from his Ge Zhichuan Relocating)

Secluded Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains, in Fu Xinian

Forest Grotto in Juqu

Note that to minimise the entries and the opportunity for confusion, the text and image sources are not shown here – do follow the links to the artists or their works and you will find a proper acknowledgement of the sources.

Forward to A2 – Artists – Forward to S1 Sculptors
Back to 1.9 ultcult Charts – Back to Pre-A1 – Artists – Back to 1 Art and Sculpture Index

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *