Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/269

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

and a tail more or less forked. In some of their habits they are thoroughly plover-like, running very swiftly and breeding on the ground, but on the wing they have much the appearance of swallows, and, like them, feed, at least partly, while flying.[1] The ordinary pratincole of Europe, G. pratincola, breeds abundantly in many parts of Spain, Barbary and Sicily, along the valley of the Danube, and in southern Russia, while owing to its great powers of flight it frequently wanders far from its home, and more than a score of examples have been recorded as occurring in the British Islands. In the south-east of Europe a second and closely-allied species, G. nordmanni or G. melanoptera, which has black instead of chestnut inner wing-coverts, accompanies or, farther to the eastward, replaces it; and in its turn it is replaced in India, China and Australia by G. orientalis. Australia also possesses another species, G. grallaria, remarkable for the great length of its wings and much longer legs, while its tail is scarcely forked—peculiarities that have led to its being considered the type of a distinct genus or sub-genus Stiltia. Two species, G. lactea and G. cinerea, from India and Africa respectively, seem by their pale coloration to be desert forms, and they are the smallest of this curious little group. The species whose mode of nidificatipn is known lay either two or three eggs, stone-coloured, blotched, spotted, and streaked with black or brownish-grey. The young when hatched are clothed in down and are able to run at once—just as are young plovers.  (A. N.) 

PRATO, a town and episcopal see of Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Florence, 11 m. by rail N W. of Florence, 207 ft. above sea-level. Pop. (1906), 20,197 (town); 55,298 (commune). It is situated on the Bisenzio, and is dominated by a medieval castle and surrounded by walls of the 11th and 14th centuries. The cathedral of St Stephen was begun in the 12th century in the Tuscan Romanesque style; to this period belongs the narrow nave with its wide arches; the raised transepts and the chapels were added by Giovanni Pisano in 1317–1320; the campanile dates from 1340 (it is a much smaller and less elaborate version of Giotto's Campanile at Florence), while the facade, also of alternate white sandstone and green serpentine, belongs to 1413. It has a fine doorway with a bas-relief by Andrea della Robbia over it; but the most striking external feature is the lovely open-air pulpit at an angle of the building, erected by Donatello and Michelozzo for displaying to the people without risk the Virgin's girdle, brought from the Holy Land by a knight of Prato in 1130. The pulpit itself has beautiful reliefs of dancing children; beneath it is a splendid bronze capital. The contract was given out in 1428, but the work was seriously begun only in 1434 and finished in 1438. The Chapel of the Girdle has good frescoes by Agnolo Gaddi (1365), a statue of the Virgin by Giovanni Pisano, and a handsome bronze open-work screen. The frescoes in the choir, with scenes from the life of St John the Baptist and St Stephen, are by Fra Filippo Lippi (1456–1466) and are his best work; the dance of Salome and the lying in state of St Stephen are the finest of the series. Among other works of art may be mentioned the clay statue of the Madonna dell Ulivo by Benedetto da Maiano. The massive old Palazzo Pretorio (13th century) has been somewhat modified in details; the adjacent Palazzo Comunale contains a small picture gallery with works by Filippo and Filippino Lippi. A beautiful Madonna by the latter (1497) is in a small street shrine at the corner of the Via S. Margherita. The Church of S. Domenico is a Gothic edifice of 1281; that of S. Francesco has an almost Renaissance façade, fine cloisters with a good 15th-century tomb, and a chapter-house with Giottesque frescoes. The Madonna del Buon Consiglio has some good reliefs by Andrea della Robbia, by whom is also the beautiful frieze in the Madonna delle Carceri. This church, by Giuliano da Sangallo (1485–1491), is a Greek cross, with barrel vaults over the arms, and a dome; it is a fine work, and the decoration of the exterior in marble of different colours (unfinished) is of a noble simplicity. Some remains exist of the 13th-century fortress, and the large Piazza. Mercatale is picturesque. The works of art visible in Prato are due, as will be seen, entirely to Florentine artists. As a whole the town has a somewhat modern aspect. The industries of Prato embrace the manufacture of woollens (the most important), straw-plaiting, biscuits, hats, macaroni, candles, silk, olive oil, clothing and furniture, also copper and iron works, and printing.

Prato is said to be first mentioned by name in 1107, but the cathedral appears as early as 1048 as the parish church of Borgo Cornio or Santo Stefano. It was subject to the Alberti until 1180, and was then under the Imperial supremacy. It appears to have freed itself from this at the end of the 13th centur In 1313 the town acknowledged the authority of Robert, king oly Naples, and in 1350 Niccola Acciajoli, seneschal of Joanna, sold it to the Florentines for 17,500 florins of gold. In 1512 it was sacked by the Spaniards under General Cardona. In 1653 it obtained the rank of city.

See E. Corradini, Prato (Bergamo, 1905).

PRATT, ORSON (1811-1881), Mormon apostle, was born of humble parents at Hartford, New York. In 1830 he joined the Mormon Church, becoming a member of its council of twelve in 1834 and one of its twelve apostles in 1835. Pratt was also a mathematician of some note. He was professor of mathematics in the university of Deseret and wrote several books on this subject, these including Cubic and Biquadratic Equations (1866). He was a member, and several times speaker, of the Utah House of Representatives. Among his writings may be mentioned Key to the Universe (1866), and The Bible and Polygamy (1870).

PRAWN, the name of an edible large shrimp-like crustacean in Great Britain usually applied to Leander serratus (see SHRIMP). The word is in M. Eng. prayne or prune, and no cognate forms are found in any other languages. It has been often referred to the Lat. perna, a ham-shaped shellfish, but this is due to Florio, who by a mistake glosses parnocchie, prawne-nshes or shrimps. The O. Ital. perm! and pernocchia meant a shellfish which yielded “ nacre ” or mother-of-pearl.

PRAXIAS and ANDROSTHENES, Greek sculptors, who are said by Pausanias (x. 19, 4) to have executed the pediments of the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Both were Athenians; Praxias a pupil of Calamis. The statement raises historic difficulties, as, according to the leaders of the recent French excavations at Delphi, the temple of Apollo was destroyed about 373 B.c. and rebuilt by 339 B.C., a date which seems too late for the lifetime of a pupil of Calamis. In any case no fragments of the pediments of this later temple have been found, and it has been suggested that they were removed bodily to Rome.

PRAXILLA, of Sicyon, Greek lyric poetess, one of the so-called nine “ lyric ” Muses, flourished about 450 B.C. According to Athenaeus (xv. 694), she was famous as a composer of scolia (short lyrical poems sung after dinner), which were considered equal to those of Alcaeus and Anacreon. She also wrote dithyrambs and hymns, chiefly on mystic and mythological subjects, genealogies, and the love-stories of the gods and heroes. A dactylic metre was also called by her name.

Fragments in T. Bergk, Poetae lyrici graeci, vol. iii.; see also C. F. Neue, De Praxillae Sicyoniae reliquiis (progr. Dorpat, 1844).

PRAXITELES, of Athens. the son of Cephissodotus, the greatest of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century B.C., who has left an imperishable mark on the history of art. It has been maintained by some writers that there were two sculptors of the name, one a contemporary of Pheidias, the other, more

  1. This combination of characters for many years led systematizers astray, though some of them were from the first correct in their notions as to the Pratincole's position. Linnaeus, even in his latest publication, placed it in the genus Hirundo; but the interleaved and annotated copies of his Systema naturae in the Linnean Society's library show the species marked for separation and insertion in the Order GrallaePratincola trachelia being the name by which he had meant to designate it in any future edition. He seems to have been induced to this change of view mainly through a specimen of the bird sent to him by John White, the brother of Gilbert White; but the opinion published in 1769 by Scopoli (Ann. I. hist. naturalis, p. 110) had doubtless contributed thereto, though the earlier judgment to the same effect of Brisson, as mentioned above, had been disregarded. Different erroneous assignments of the form have been made even by recent authors, who neglected the clear evidence afforded by the internal structure of the Pratincole. For instance, Sundevall in 1873 (Tentamen, p. 86) placed Glareola among the Caprimulgidae, position which osteology shows cannot be maintained for a moment.