Masterpiece, magnum opus (Latin, great work) or chef-d’œuvre (French, master of work, plural chefs-d’œuvre) in modern use is a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill, profundity, or workmanship. Historically, a "masterpiece" was a work of a very high standard produced to obtain membership of a guild or academy in various areas of the visual arts and crafts.
The form masterstik is recorded in English or Scots in a set of Aberdeen guild regulations dated to 1579, whereas "masterpiece" is first found in 1605, already outside a guild context, in a Ben Jonson play."Masterprize" was another early variant in English.
In English, the term rapidly became used in a variety of contexts for an exceptionally good piece of creative work, and was "in early use, often applied to man as the 'masterpiece' of God or Nature".
Originally, the term masterpiece referred to a piece of work produced by an apprentice or journeyman aspiring to become a master craftsman in the old European guild system. His fitness to qualify for guild membership was judged partly by the masterpiece, and if he was successful, the piece was retained by the guild. Great care was therefore taken to produce a fine piece in whatever the craft was, whether confectionery, painting, goldsmithing, knifemaking, leatherworking, or many other trades.
In London, in the 17th century, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, for instance, required an apprentice to produce a masterpiece under their supervision at a "workhouse" in Goldsmiths' Hall. The workhouse had been set up as part of a tightening of standards after the company became concerned that the level of skill of goldsmithing was being diluted. The wardens of the company had complained in 1607 that the "true practise of the Art & Mystery of Goldsmithry is not only grown into great decays but also dispersed into many parts, so as now very few workmen are able to finish & perfect a piece of plate singularly with all the garnishings & parts thereof without the help of many & several hands...". The same goldsmithing organization still requires the production of a masterpiece but it is no longer produced under supervision.
In Nuremberg, Germany, between 1531 and 1572, apprentices who wished to become master goldsmith were required to produce columbine cups, dies for a steel seal, and gold rings set with precious stones before they could be admitted to the goldsmiths' guild. If they failed to be admitted, then they could continue to work for other goldsmiths but not as a master themselves. In some guilds, apprentices were not allowed to marry until they had obtained full membership.
In its original meaning the term was generally restricted to tangible objects, but in some cases, where guilds covered the creators of intangible products, the same system was used. The best-known example today is Richard Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868), where much of the plot is concerned with the hero's composition and performance of a "masterpiece" song, to allow him to become a meistersinger in the (non-commercial) Nuremberg guild. This follows the surviving rulebook of the guild.
The practice of producing a masterpiece has continued in some modern academies of art, where the general term for such works is now reception piece. The Royal Academy in London uses the term "diploma work" and it has acquired a fine collection of diploma works received as a condition of membership.
In modern use, a masterpiece is a creation in any area of the arts that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill, profundity, or workmanship. For example the novel David Copperfield by Charles Dickens is generally considered a literary masterpiece.The term is often used loosely, and some feel it is overused for recent films.
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century, critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are still widely read today.
A guild is an association of artisans or merchants who oversee the practice of their craft/trade in a particular area. The earliest types of guild formed as confraternities of tradesmen, normally operating in a single city and covering a single trade. They were organized in a manner something between a professional association, a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society. They sometimes depended on grants of letters patent from a monarch or other ruler to enforce the flow of trade to their self-employed members, and to retain ownership of tools and the supply of materials, but were generally regulated by the city government. A lasting legacy of traditional guilds are the guildhalls constructed and used as guild meeting-places. Guild members found guilty of cheating on the public would be fined or banned from the guild.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, WWV 96, is a music drama in three acts, written and composed by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas commonly performed, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater, today the home of the Bavarian State Opera, in Munich, on 21 June 1868. The conductor at the premiere was Hans von Bülow.
The Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait painting by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is considered an archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, and has been described as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world." The painting's novel qualities include the subject's expression, which is frequently described as enigmatic, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modelling of forms, and the atmospheric illusionism.
Oliver Twist; or, the Parish Boy's Progress is Charles Dickens's second novel, and was published as a serial from 1837 to 1839 and released as a three-volume book in 1838, before the serialization ended. The story centres on orphan Oliver Twist, born in a workhouse and sold into apprenticeship with an undertaker. After escaping, Oliver travels to London, where he meets the "Artful Dodger", a member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets led by the elderly criminal Fagin.
A journeyman is a worker, skilled in a given building trade or craft, who has successfully completed an official apprenticeship qualification. Journeymen are considered competent and authorized to work in that field as a fully qualified employee. They earn their license by education, supervised experience and examination. Although journeymen have completed a trade certificate and are allowed to work as employees, they may not yet work as self-employed master craftsmen.
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Historically, goldsmiths also have made silverware, platters, goblets, decorative and serviceable utensils, ceremonial or religious items, and rarely using Kintsugi, but the rising prices of precious metals have curtailed the making of such items to a large degree.
There are 110 livery companies of the City of London. They comprise London's ancient and modern trade associations and guilds, almost all of which are styled the 'Worshipful Company of...' their respective craft, trade or profession. London's livery companies play a significant part in City life, not least by providing charitable-giving and networking opportunities. Liverymen retain voting rights for the senior civic offices, such as the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and City of London Corporation, its ancient municipal authority with extensive local government powers.
A cordwainer is a shoemaker who makes new shoes from new leather. The cordwainer's trade can be contrasted with the cobbler's trade, according to a tradition in Britain that restricted cobblers to repairing shoes. This usage distinction is not universally observed, as the word cobbler is widely used for tradespersons who make or repair shoes. A major English dictionary says that the word cordwainer is archaic, "still used in the names of guilds, for example, the Cordwainers' Company"; but its definition of cobbler mentions only mending, reflecting the older distinction. Play 14 of the Chester Cycle was presented by the guild of corvisors or corvysors.
A master craftsman or master tradesman was a member of a guild.
Upholstery is the work of providing furniture, especially seats, with padding, springs, webbing, and fabric or leather covers. The word upholstery comes from the Middle English word upholder, which referred to an artisan who held up their goods. The term is equally applicable to domestic, automobile, airplane and boat furniture, and can be applied to mattresses, particularly the upper layers, though these often differ significantly in design. A person who works with upholstery is called an upholsterer. An apprentice upholsterer is sometimes called an outsider or trimmer. Traditional upholstery uses materials like coil springs (post-1850), animal hair, coir, straw and hay, hessians, linen scrims, wadding, etc., and is done by hand, building each layer up. In contrast, today's upholsterers employ synthetic materials like dacron and vinyl, serpentine springs, and so on.
A beadle, sometimes spelled "bedel", is an official of a church or synagogue who may usher, keep order, make reports, and assist in religious functions; or a minor official who carries out various civil, educational, or ceremonial duties on the manor.
The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In, commonly referred to as The Chimes, is a novella written by Charles Dickens and first published in 1844, one year after A Christmas Carol. It is the second in his series of "Christmas books," five novellas with strong social and moral messages that he published during the 1840s. In addition to A Christmas Carol and The Chimes, the Christmas books include The Cricket on the Hearth (1845), The Battle of Life (1846), and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848).
The year 1503 in art involved some significant events and new works.
The Guild of Saint Luke was the most common name for a city guild for painters and other artists in early modern Europe, especially in the Low Countries. They were named in honor of the Evangelist Luke, the patron saint of artists, who was identified by John of Damascus as having painted the Virgin's portrait.
Oliver Twist is a 1982 Australian 72-minute made-for-television animated film from Burbank Films Australia; a part of the studio's series of adaptations of Charles Dickens' works made from 1982 through 1985.
Peter Archambo I (1699–1759) in his time Peter Archambo, was a Huguenot silver and goldsmith. He was the English-born son of the Huguenot (Protestant) refugee Archambault family from France. In 1710 he was apprenticed to the notable Huguenot goldsmith Jacob Margas.
Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is one of the most recognizable and famous works of art in the world, and also one of the most replicated and reinterpreted. Mona Lisa replicas were already being painted during Leonardo's lifetime by his own students and contemporaries. Some are claimed to be the work of Leonardo himself, and remain disputed by scholars. Prominent 20th-century artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dalí have also produced derivative works, manipulating Mona Lisa's image to suit their own aesthetic. Replicating Renaissance masterpieces continues to be a way for aspiring artists to perfect their painting techniques and prove their skills.
A columbine cup is a silver goblet in the shape of a columbine flower. They were produced in Nuremberg, Germany, in the sixteenth century, often as masterpieces to demonstrate that a craftsman had the skills necessary to enter a craft guild.
The Prado Mona Lisa is a painting of the same subject as Leonardo da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa, which is held by the Louvre Museum, Paris. The painting has been displayed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain since 1819, but was considered for decades a relatively unimportant copy. However, after its restoration in 2012, the Prado's Mona Lisa was claimed to be the earliest known studio copy of Leonardo's masterpiece.
the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world
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