Notebook, 1993-

Il Libro dell' Arte - Cennino D' Andrea Cennini. The Craftsman's Handbook. The Italian "Il Libro dell' Arte." Translated by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1933, by Yale University Press.

Notes 1-50   Notes 51-124   Notes 125-162   Notes 163-283

Section I

Here begins the Craftsman's Handbook, made and composed by Cennino of Colle, in the reverence of God, and of The Virgin Mary, and of Saint Eustace, and of Saint Francis, and of Saint John Baptist, and of Saint Anthony of Padua, and, in general, of all the Saints of God; and in the reverence of Giotto, of Taddeo and of Agnolo, Cennino's master; and for the use and good and profit of anyone who wants to enter this profession. [p. 1]

The First Chapter of the First Section of This Book
In the beginning, when Almighty God created heaven and earth, above all animals and foods he created man and woman in his own image, endowing them with every virtue. Then, because of the misfortune which fell upon Adam, through envy, from Lucifer, who by his malice and cunning beguiled him--or rather, Eve, and then Eve, Adam--into sin against the Lord's command: because of this, therefore, God became angry with Adam, and had him driven, him and his companion, forth out of Paradise, saying to them: Inasmuch as you have disobeyed the command which God gave you, by your struggles and exertions you shall carry on your lives.' And so Adam, recognizing the error which he had committed, after being so royally endowed by God as the source, beginning, and father of us all, realized theoretically that some means of living by labor had to be found. And so he started with the spade, and Eve, with spinning. Man afterward pursued many useful occupations, differing from each other; and some were, and are, more theoretical than others; they could not all be alike, since theory is the most worthy. Close to that, man pursued some related to the one which calls for a basis of that, coupled with skill of hand: and this is an occupation known as painting, which calls for imagination, and skill of hand, in order to discover things not seen, hiding themselves under the shadow of natural objects, and to fix them[1] with the hand, presenting to plain sight what does not actually exist. And it justly deserves to be enthroned next to theory, and to be [p. 2] crowned with poetry. The justice lies in this: that the poet, with his theory, though he have but one, it makes him worthy, is free to compose and bind together, or not, as he pleases, according to his inclination. In the same way, the painter is given freedom to compose a figure, standing, seated, half-man, half-horse, as he pleases, according to his imagination. So then, either as a labor of love for all those who feel within them a desire to understand; or as a means of embellishing these fundamental theories with some jewel, that they may be set forth royally, without reserve; offering to these theories whatever little understanding God has granted me, as an unimportant practicing member of the profession of painting: I, Cennino, the son of Andrea Cennini of Colle di Val d'Elsa, -[I was trained in this profession for twelve years by my master, Agnolo di Taddeo of Florence; he learned this profession from Taddeo, his father; and his father was christened under Giotto, and was his follower for four-and-twenty years; and that Giotto changed the profession of painting from Greek back into Latin, and brought it up to date; and he had more finished craftsmanship than anyone has had since], -to minister to all those who wish to enter the profession, I will make note of what was taught me by the aforesaid Agnolo, my master, and of what I have tried out with my own hand: first invoking [the aid of] High Almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; then [of] that most delightful advocate of all sinners, Virgin Mary; and of Saint Luke, the Evangelist, the first Christian painter; and of my advocate, Saint Eustace; and, in general, of all the Saints of paradise, A M E N. [pp. 1-2]

How Some Enter The Profession Through Loftiness of Spirit, and Some, For Profit.
Chapter II
It is not without the impulse of a lofty spirit that some are moved to enter this profession, attractive to them through natural enthusiasm. Their intellect will take delight in drawing, provided their nature attracts them to it of themselves, without any master's guidance, out of loftiness of spirit. And the, through this delight, they come to want to find a master; and they bind themselves to him with respect for authority, undergoing an apprenticeship in order to achieve perfection [p. 2] in all this. There are those who pursue it, because of poverty and domestic need, for profit and enthusiasm for the profession too; but above all these are to be extolled the ones who enter the profession through a sense of enthusiasm and exaltation. [pp. 2-3]

Fundamental Provisions For Anyone Who Enters This Profession.
Chapter III
You, therefore, who with lofty spirit are fired with this ambition, and are about to enter the profession, begin by decking yourselves with this attire: Enthusiasm, Reverence, Obedience, and Constancy. And begin to submit yourself to the direction of a master for instruction as early as you can; and do not leave the master until you have to. [p. 3]

How The Schedule Shows You Into How Many Sections And Branches The Occupations Are Divided.
Chapter IIII
The basis of the profession, the very beginning of all these manual operations, is drawing and painting. These two sections call for a knowledge of the following: how to work up or grind, how to apply size, to put on cloth, to gesso, to scrape the gessos and smooth them down, to model with gesso, to lay bole, to gild, to burnish; to temper, to lay in; to pounce, to scrape through, to stamp or punch; to mark out, to paint, to embellish, and to varnish, on panel or ancona.[2] To work on a wall you have to wet down, to plaster, to true up, to smooth off, to draw, to paint in fresco. To carry to completion in secco: to temper, to embellish, to finish on the wall. And let this be the schedule of the aforesaid stages which I, with what little knowledge I have acquired, will expound, section by section. [p. 3]

How you Begin Drawing On A Little Panel; And The System For It.
Chapter V
As has been said, you begin with drawing. You ought to have the most elementary system, so as to be able to start drawing. First take a little boxwood panel, nine inches wide in each direction; all smooth and clean, that is, washed with clear water; rubbed and smoothed down with cuttle such as the goldsmiths use for casting. And when this little panel is thoroughly dry, take enough bone, ground diligently for two hours, to serve the purpose; and the finer it is, the better. Scrape it up afterward, take it and keep it wrapped up in a paper, dry. And when you need some for priming this little panel, take less than half a bean of this bone, or even less. And stir this bone up with saliva. Spread it all over the little panel with your fingers; and, before it gets dry, hold the little panel in your left hand, and tap over the panel with the finger tip of your right hand until you see that it is quite dry. And it will get coated with bone as evenly in one place as in another. [p. 4]

How To Draw On Several Kinds of Panels.
Chapter VI
For that purpose, a little panel of old fig wood is good; and also certain tablets which tradesmen use, which consist of sheep parchment gessoed and coated with white lead in oil,[3] following the treatment with bone according to the system described. [p. 4]

Silver-Point Drawing - What kind of Bone is God For Treating the Panels
Chapter VII
You must know what bone is good. Take bone from the second joints and wings of fowls, or of a capon, and the older the are the better. Just as you find them under the dining-table, put them in the fire; and when you see that they have turned whiter than ashes, draw them out, and grind them well in the porphyry; and use it as I say above.

How You Should Start Drawing with a Style, and by What Light
Chapter VIII
The thigh bone of a gelded lamb is good, too, and the shoulder, calcined in the way described. And then take a style of silver, or brass, or anything else, provided the ends be of silver,[4] fairly slender, smooth, and handsome. Then, using a model, start to copy the easiest possible subjects, to get your hand in; and run the style over the little panel so lightly that you can hardly make out what you first start to do; strengthening your strokes little by little, going back many times to produce the shadows. And the darker you want to make the shadows in the accents, the more times you go back to them; and so, conversely, go back over the reliefs only a few times. And let the helm and steersman of this power to see be the light of the sun, the light of your eye, and your own hand; for without these three things nothing can be done systematically. But arrange to have the light diffused when you are drawing; and have the sun fall on your left side. And with that system set yourself to practice drawing, drawing only a little each day, so that you may not come to lose your taste for it, or get tired of it. [p. 5]

How You Should Give The System of Lighting, Light or Shade, To Your Figures, Endowing Them With a System of Relief
Chapter VIIII
If, by chance, when you are drawing or copying in chapels, or painting in other adverse situations, you happen not to be able to get the light off your hand, or the way you want it, proceed to give the relief to your figures, or rather, drawing, according to the arrangement of the windows which you find in these places, for they have to give you the lighting. And so, following the lighting, whichever side it comes from, apply your relief and shadow, according to this system. And if it happens that the light comes or shines through the center straight ahead, or in full glory, apply your relief in the same way, light and dark, by this system. And if the light shines from one window larger than the others in these places, always follow the dominant lighting; and make it your careful duty to analyze it, and follow it through, because, if it failed in this respect, your work would be lacking in relief, and would come out a shallow thing, of little mastery. [p. 6]

The method and System for Drawing on Sheep Parchment and on Paper[5], and Shading with Washes
Chapter X
To get back to our main track: you may also draw on sheep parchment and on paper. On the parchment you may draw or sketch with this style of yours if you first put some of that bone, dry and powdered, [p. 6] like dust or pouncing rosin, all over the parchment, sprinkling it on, spreading it about, and dusting it off with a hare's foot. If, after you have drawn with the style, you want to clear up the drawing further, fix it with ink at the points of accent and stress. And then shade the folds with washes of ink; that is, as much water as a nutshell would hold, with two drops of ink in it; and shade with a brush made of minever tails, rather blunt, and almost always dry. And so, according to the darks, you make the wash blacker in this way with more little drops of ink. And you may likewise work and shade with colors and with clothlets[6] such as the illuminators use; the colors tempered with gum, or with clear white of egg well beaten and liquefied. [pp. 6-7]

How You May Draw with a Leaden Style
Chapter XI
You may also draw, without any bone, on this parchment[7] with a style of lead; that is, a style made of two parts lead and one part tin, well beaten with a hammer. [p. 7]

How, If You Have Made a Slip in Drawing with The Leaden Style, You May Erase It, and By What Means
Chapter XII
On paper you may draw with the aforesaid lead without bone, and likewise with bone. And if you ever make a slip, so that you want to [p. 7] remove some stroke made by this little lead, take a bit of the crumb of some bread, and rub it over the paper, and you will remove whatever you wish. And you may shade on this paper in the same way with ink, with colors, and with clothlets, using the temperas aforesaid. [pp. 7-8]

How You Should Practice Drawing with a Pen
Chapter XIII
When you have put in a year, more or less, at this exercise, according to what liking or enjoyment you have taken, you may sometimes just draw on paper with a pen. Have it cut fine; and then draw nicely and work up your lights, half lights, and darks gradually, going back to them many times with the pen. And if you want your drawings to come out a little more seductive, put some little washes on them, as I told you before, with a blunt minever brush. Do you realize what will happen to you if you practice drawing with a pen? -That it will make you expert, skilful, and capable of much drawing out of our own head. [p. 8]

How to Learn to Cut the Quill for Drawing
Chapter XIIII
If you need to learn how this goose quill should be cut, get a good, firm quill, and take it, upside down, straight across the two fingers of your left hand; and get a very nice sharp penknife, and make a horizontal cut one finger along the quill; and cut it by drawing the knife towards you, taking care that the cut runs even and through the middle of the quill. And then put the knife back on one of the edges of this quill, say on the left side, which faces you, and pare it, and taper it off toward the point. And cut the other side to the same curve, and bring it down to the same point. Then turn the pen around the other side up, and lay it over your left thumb nail; and carefully, bit by bit, pare and cut that little tip;[8] and make the shape broad or fine, whichever you want, either for drawing or for writing. [p. 8]

How You Should Advance to Drawing on Tinted Paper
Chapter XV
To approach the glory [of the profession][9] step by step, to start trying to discover the entrance and gateway to painting, you should take up a system of drawing different from the one which we have been discussing up to now. And this is known as drawing on tinted paper; either paper, that is, or parchment. Let them be tinted; for one is tinted in the same way as the other, and with the same tempera. And you may make your tints inclined toward pink, or violet, or green; or bluish, or greenish gray, that is, drab colors; or flesh colored, or any way you please; for they all take the same temperas, the same time for grinding the colors; and you may draw on them all by the same method. It is true that most people generally use the green tint, and it is most usual, both for shading down and for putting lights on. Although I am going to describe later on the grinding of all the colors, and their characters, and their temperas, I will give you briefly a short method now, to get you started on your drawing and your tinting of the papers. [p. 9]

How the Green Tint is Made on Paper for Drawing; and The Way to Temper It.
Chapter XVI
When you want to tint a kid parchment, or a sheet of paper, take as much as half a nut of terre-verte; a little ocher, half as much as that; and solid white lead to the amount of half the ocher; and as much as a bean of bone dust, using the bone which I described to you above for drawing; and as much as half a bean of vermilion. And grind all these things up well on the porphyry slab with well or spring or river water; and grind them as much as ever you can stand grinding them, [p. 9] For they can never be done too much; because the more you grind them, the more perfect tint it becomes. Then temper the aforesaid substances with size of the following quality and strength: get a leaf of druggists' glue, not fish glue, and put it into a pipkin to soak, for the space of six hours, in as much clear, clean water as two common goblets will hold. Then put this pipkin on the fire to temper it; and skim it when it boils. When it has boiled a little, so that you see that the glue is all dissolved, strain it twice. Then take a large paint pot, big enough for these ground colours, and put in enough of this size to make it flow freely from the brush. And choose a good-sized soft bristle brush. Then take that paper of yours which you wish to tint; lay some of this tint evenly over the ground of your paper, running your hand lightly, with the brush about half dry, first in one direction and then in the other. And put on three or four coats of it in this way or five, until you see that the paper is tinted evenly. And wait long enough between one coat and the next for each coat to dry. And if you see that it gets shriveled from your tinting, or horny from the tinting mixture, it is a sign that the tempera is too strong; and so, while you are laying the first coat, remedy this. How? --Put in some clear warm water. When it is dry and done, take a penknife, and rub lightly over the tinted sheet with the blade, so as to remove any little roughness that there may be on it.

How You Should Tint Kid Parchment, And By Which Method You Should Burnish It.
Chapter XVII
When you want to tint kid parchment, you should first soak it in spring or well water until it gets all wet and soft. Then, stretching it over a board, like a drumskin, fasten it down with big-headed nails, and apply the tints to it in due course, as described above. If it should come about that the paper or parchment is not smooth enough to suit you, take this paper, and lay it on a walnut board, or on a flat, smooth slab; then put a sheet of good clean paper over the one which you have tinted; and, with the stone for burnishing and working gold, burnish with considerable strength of hand; and so, in this way, [p. 10] it will get soft and smooth. It is true that some people like very much to burnish directly on the tinted paper, that is, to have the burnishing stone touch it and penetrate it, so that it acquires a little polish. You may do as you please, but that first method of mine is better. The reason is this: that rubbing the burnishing stone over the tint offsets, by reason of its polish, the polish of the style when you draw; and furthermore the washes which you put on with your ink[10] do not look so well blended and clear on this as in the method first described. But, nevertheless, do as you please.

How You Should Tint Paper Turnsole Color.[11]
Chapter XVIII
Now apply yourself to the making of these tints. To tint your paper turnsole color, or purple, for the number of sheets which I mentioned before, that is, . . . ,[12]take half an ounce of coarse white lead; and as much as a bean of hematite; and grind them together as much as ever you can; for ample grinding will not spoil it, but improve it constantly. Temper it in the regular way.




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