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

Third Section

The Method and System for Working on a Wall, That is, in Fresco; and On Painting and Doing Flesh for a Youthful Face.
Chapter LXVII

In the name of the Most Holy Trinity I wish to start you on painting. Begin, in the first place, with working on a wall; and for that I will teach you, step by step, the method which you should follow.

When you want to work on a wall, which is the most agreeable and impressive kind of work, first of all get some lime[65] and some sand, each of them well sifted. And if the lime is very fat and fresh it calls for two parts sand, the third part lime. And wet them up well with water; and wet up enough to last you for two or three weeks. And let it stand for a day or so, until the heat goes out of it: for when it is so hot, the plaster which you put on cracks afterward. When you are ready to plaster, first sweep the wall well, and wet it down thoroughly, for you cannot get it too wet. And take your lime mortar, well worked over, a trowelful at a time; and plaster once or twice, to begin with, to get the plaster flat on the wall. Then, when you want to work, remember first to make this plaster quite uneven and fairly rough. Then when the plaster is dry, take the charcoal, and draw and [p. 42] compose according to the scene or figures which you have to do; and take all your measurements carefully, snapping lines first, getting the centers of the spaces.[66] Then snap some, and take the levels from them. And this line which you snap through the center to get the level must have a plumb bob at the foot. And then put one point of the big compasses on this line,[67] and give the compasses a half turn on the under side. Then put the point of the compasses on the middle intersection of one line with the other,[68] and swing the other semicircle on the upper side. And you will find that you make a little slanted cross on the right side, formed by the intersection of the lines. From the left side apply the line to be snapped, in such a way that it lies right over both the little crosses; and you will find that your line is horizontal by a level.[69] Then compose the scenes or figures with charcoal, as I have described. And always keep your areas in scale, and regular.[70] Then take a small, pointed bristle brush, and a little ocher without tempera, as thin as water; and proceed to copy and draw in your figures [p. 43], shading as you did with washes when you were learning to draw. Then take a bunch of feathers, and sweep the drawing free of the charcoal.

Then take a little sinoper without tempera, and with a fine pointed brush proceed to mark out noses, eyes, the hair, and all the accents and outlines of the figures; and see to it that these figures are properly adjusted in all their dimensions, for these[71] give you a chance to know and allow for[72] the figures which you have to paint. Then start making your ornaments, or whatever you want to do, around the outside; and when you are ready, take some of the aforesaid lime mortar, well worked over with spade and trowel, successively, so that it seems like an ointment. Then consider in your own mind how much work you can do in a day; for whatever you plaster you ought to finish up. It is true that sometimes in winter, in damp weather, working on a stone wall, the plaster will occasionally keep fresh until the next day; but do not delay if you can help it, because working on the fresh plaster,[73] that is, that day's, is the strongest tempera and the best and most delightful kind of work. So then, plaster a section with plaster, fairly thin, but not excessively, and quite even; first wetting down the old plaster. Then take your large bristle brush in your hand; dip it in clear water; beat it, and sprinkle over your plaster. And with a little block the size of the palm of your hand, proceed to rub with a circular motion over the surface of the well-moistened plaster, so that the little block may succeed in removing mortar wherever there is too much, and supplying it wherever there is not enough, and in evening up your plaster nicely. Then wet the plaster with that brush, if you need to; and rub over the plaster with the point of your trowel, very straight and clean. Then snap out lines in the same system and dimensions which you adopted previously on the plaster underneath.

And let us suppose that in a day you have just one head to do, a [p. 44] youthful saint's, like Our Most Holy Lady's. When you have got the mortar of your plaster all smoothed down, take a little dish, a glazed one, for all your dishes should be glazed and tapered like a goblet of drinking glass, and they should have a good heavy base at the foot, to keep them steady so as not to spill the colors; take as much as a bean of well-ground ocher, the dark kind, for there are two kinds of ocher, light and dark: and if you have none of the dark, take some of the light. Put it into your little dish; take a little black, the size of a lentil; mix it with this ocher; take a little lime white, as much as a third of a bean; take as much light cinabrese[74] as the tip of a penknife will hold; mix it up with the aforesaid colors all together in order,[75] and get this color dripping wet with clear water, without any tempera. Make a fine pointed brush out of flexible, thin bristles, to fit into the quill of a goose feather; and with this brush indicate the face which you wish to do, remembering to divide the face into three parts, that is, the forehead, the nose, and the chin counting the mouth. And with your brush almost dry, gradually apply this color, known in Florence as verdaccio, and in Siena, as bazzeo. When you have got the shape of the face drawn in, and if it seems not to have come out the way you want it, in its proportions or in any other respect, you can undo it and repair it by rubbing over the plaster with the big bristle brush dipped in water.

Then take a little terre-verte in another dish, well tinned out; and with a bristle brush, half squeezed out between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, start shading under the chin, and mostly on the side where the face is to be darkest; and go on by shaping up the under side of the mouth; and the sides of the mouth; under the nose, and on the side under the eyebrows, especially in toward the nose; a little in the end of the eye toward the ear; and in this way you pick out the whole of the face and the hands, wherever flesh color is to come.

Then take a pointed minever brush, and crisp up neatly all the outlines, nose, eyes, lips, and ears, with this verdaccio.

There are some masters who, at this point, when the face is in this [p. 45] stage, take a little lime white, thinned with water; and very systematically pick out the prominences and reliefs of the countenance; then they put a little pink on the lips, and some "little apples" on the cheeks. Next they go over it with a little wash of thin flesh color; and it is all painted, except for touching in the reliefs afterward with a little white. It is a good system.

Some[76] begin by laying in the face with flesh color; then they shape it up with a little verdaccio and flesh color, touching it in with some high lights; and it is finished. This is a method of those who know little about the profession.

But you follow this method in everything which I shall teach you about painting: for Giotto, the great master, followed it. he had Taddeo Gaddi of Florence as his pupil for twenty-four years; and he was his godson. Taddeo had Agnolo, his son. Agnolo had me for twelve years; and so he started me on this method, by means of which Agnolo painted much more handsomely and freshly than Taddeo, his father, did.

First take a little dish; put a little lime white into it, a little bit will do, and a little light cinabrese, about equal parts. Temper them quite thin with clear water. With the aforesaid bristle brush, soft, and well squeezed with your fingers, go over the face, when you have got it indicated with terre-verte; and with this pink touch in the lips, and the "apples" of the cheeks. My master used to put these "apples" more toward the ear than toward the nose, because they help to give relief to the face. And soften these "apples" at the edges. Then take three little dishes, which you divide into three sections of flesh color; have the darkest half again as light as the pink color, and the other two, each one degree lighter. now take the little dish of the lightest one; and with a very soft, rather blunt, bristle brush take some of this flesh color, squeezing the brush with your fingers; and shape up all the reliefs of this face. Then take the little dish of the intermediate flesh color, and proceed to pick out all the half tones of the face, and of the hands and feet, and of the body when you are doing a nude. Then take the dish of the third flesh color, and start into the accents of the shadows, always contriving that, in the accents, the terre-verte [p. 46] may not fail to tell. And go on blending one flesh color into another in this way many times, until it is well laid in, as nature promises. And take great care, if you want your work to come out very fresh; contrive not to let your brush leave its course with any given flesh color, except to blend one delicately with another, with skilful handling. But if you attend to working and getting your hand in practice, it will be clearer to you than seeing it in writing. When you have applied your flesh colors, make another much lighter one, almost white; and go over the eyebrows with it, over the relief of the nose, over the top of the chin and of the eyelid. Then take a sharp minever brush; and do the whites of the eyes with pure white, and the tip of the nose, and a tiny bit on the side of the mouth; and touch in all such slight reliefs. Then take a little black in another little dish, and with the same brush mark out the outline of the eyes over the pupils of the eyes; and do the nostrils in the nose, and the openings in the ears. Then take a little dark sinoper in a little dish; mark out under the eyes, and around the nose, the eyebrows, the mouth; and do a little shading under the upper lip, for that wants to come out a little bit darker than the under lip. Before you mark out the outlines in this way, take this brush; touch up the hair with verdaccio; then with this brush shape up this hair with white. Then take a wash of light ocher; and with a blunt bristle brush work back over this hair as if you were doing flesh. Then with the same brush shape up the accents with some dark ocher. Then with a sharper little minever brush and light ocher and lime white shape up the reliefs of the hair. Then, by marking out with sinoper, shape up the outlines and the accents of the hair as you did the face as a awhile. And let this suffice you for a youthful face.

The Method for Painting an Aged Face in Fresco.
Chapter LXVIII

When you want to do the head of an old man, you should follow the same system as for the youthful one; except that your verdaccio wants to be a little darker, and the flesh colors, too; adopting the system and practice which you did for the youthful one; and the hands [p. 47] and feet and the body in the same way. Now, assuming that your old man's hair and beard are hoary, when you have got it shaped up with verdaccio and white with your sharp minever brush, take some lime white mixed with a small amount of black in a little dish, liquid, and with a blunt and soft bristle brush, well squeezed out, lay in the beards and hairs; and then make some of this mixture a little bit darker, and shape up the darks. Then take a small sharp, minever brush, and stripe delicately over the reliefs of these hairs and beards. And you may do minever with this same color.

The Method for Painting Various Kinds of Beards and Hair in Fresco.

Whenever you wish to make different hair and beards, ruddy, or russet, or black, or any kind you please, do them with verdaccio still, or shaped up with white,[77] and then lay them in the regular way as described above. Just consider what color you want them; and thus the experience of seeing some of them finished will teach you this.

The Proportions Which a Perfectly Formed ManÍs Body Should Possess.
Chapter LXX

Take note that, before going any farther, I will give you the exact proportions of a man. Those of a woman I will disregard, for she does not have any set proportion. First, as I have said above, the face is divided into three parts, namely: the forehead, one: the nose, another; and from the nose to the chin, another. From the side of the nose through the whole length of the eye, one of these measures. From the end of the eye up to the ear, one of these measures. From one ear to the other, a face lengthwise, one face. From the chin under the jaw to the base of the throat, one of the three measures. The throat, one measure long. From the pit of the throat to the top of the shoulder, [p. 48] one face; and so for the other shoulder. From the shoulder to the elbow, one face. From the elbow to the joint of the hand, one face and one of the three measures. The whole hand, lengthwise, one face. From the pit of the throat to that of the chest, or stomach, one face. From the stomach to the navel, one face. From the navel to the thigh joint, one face. From the thigh to the knee, two faces. From the knee to the heel of the leg, two faces. From the heel to the sole of the foot, one of the three measures. The foot, one face long.

A man is as long as his arms crosswise. The arms, including the hands, reach to the middle of the thigh. The whole man is eight faces and two of the three measures in length. A man has one breast rib less than a woman, on the left side. A man has . . .[78] bones in all. The handsome man must be swarthy, and the woman fair, etc. I will not tell you about the irrational animals, because you will never discover any system of proportion in them. Copy them and draw as much as you can from nature, and you will achieve a good style in this respect.

The Way to Paint a Drapery in Fresco
Chapter LXXI

Now let us get right back to our fresco-painting. And, on the wall,[79] if you wish to paint a drapery, any color you please, you should first draw it carefully with your verdaccio; and do not have your drawing show too much, but moderately. Then, whether you want a white drapery or a red one, or yellow, or green, or whatever you want, get three little dishes. Take one of them, and put into it whatever color you choose, we will say red: take some cinabrese and a little lime white; and let this be one color, well diluted with water. Make one of the other two colors light, putting a great deal of lime white into it. Now take some out of the first dish, and some of this light, and make an intermediate color; and you will have three of them. Now take some of the first one, that is, the dark one; and with a rather large and fairly pointed bristle brush go over the folds of your figure in the darkest areas; and do not go past the middle of the thickness of your figure. Then take the intermediate color; lay it in from one dark strip [p. 49] to the next one, and work them in together, and blend your folds into the accents of the darks. Then, just using these intermediate colors, shape up the dark parts where that relief of the figure is to come, but always following out the shape of the nude. Then take the third, lightest color, and just exactly as you have shaped up and laid in the course of the folds in the dark, so you do now in the relief, adjusting the folds ably, with good draftsmanship and judgment. When you have laid in two or three times with each color, never abandoning the sequence of the colors by yielding or invading the location of one color for another, except where they come into conjunction, blend them and work them well in together. Then in another dish take still another color, lighter than the lightest of these three; and shape up the tops of the folds, and put on lights. Then take some pure white in another dish, and shape up definitively all the areas of relief. Then go over the dark parts, and around some of the outlines, with straight cinabrese; and you will have your drapery, systematically carried out. But you will learn far better by seeing it done than by reading. When you have finished your figure or scene, let it dry until the mortar and the colors have dried out well all over. And if you still have any drapery to do in secco, you will follow this method.

The Way to Paint on a Wall in Secco; and The Temperas for It
Chapter LXXII

You may use any of those colors which you used in fresco, in secco as well; but there are colors which cannot be used in fresco, such as orpiment, vermilion, azurite, red lead, white lead, verdigris, and lac. Those which can be used in fresco are giallorino, lime white, black, ocher, cinabrese, sinoper, terre-verte, hematite. The ones which are used in fresco call for lime white as an adjunct, to make them lighter; and the greens, when you want to keep them as greens, call for giallorino: when you want to leave them as sage greens, use white. Those colors which cannot be used in fresco require white lead and giallorino as adjuncts, to make them lighter, and sometimes orpiment: but orpiment very seldom. Now if you are to execute a blue with lights on it,[80] [p. 50] follow that three-dish system which I taught you for the flesh color and the cinabrese; and the system will be the same for this, except that where you took lime white before, you now take white lead; and you temper everything. There are two good kinds of tempera for you, one better than the other. The first tempera: take the white and yolk of the egg: put in a few clippings of fig shoots; and beat it up well. Then put some of this tempera into the little dishes, a moderate amount, neither too much nor not enough, just about as a wine might be half diluted with water. And then use your colors, white or green or red, just as I showed you for fresco; and carry out your draperies the same way you did in fresco, handling it with restraint, allowing time for it to dry out. Know that if you put in too much tempera the color will soon crack and peel away from the wall. Be reasonable and judicious. I advise you first, before you begin to paint, if you want to make a drapery of lac or any other color, before you do anything else, take a well-washed sponge; and have a yolk and white of egg together, and put them into two porringerfuls of clear water, mixing it up thoroughly; and go evenly over the whole work which you have to paint in secco and also to embellish with gold, with your sponge half squeezed out in this tempera; and then proceed to paint freely, as you please. The second tempera is simply yolk of egg; and know that this tempera is a universal one, for wall, for panels, or for iron; and you cannot use too much, but be reasonable, and choose a middle course. Before you go any further with this tempera, I want you to carry out a drapery in secco. Just as I had you do with cinabrese in fresco, I now want you to do with ultramarine. Take three dishes as usual; put the two parts of blue and the third of white lead into the first one; and into the third dish, the two parts white lead and the third blue; and mix and temper them as I have told you. Then take the empty dish, that is, the second; take as much out of one dish as out of the other, and make up a mixture, stirring it thoroughly.[81] With a bristle brush, or a firm, blunt minever one, and the first color[82] that is, the darkest, go over the accents, shaping up the darkest folds. Then take the medium color, and lay in some of those dark folds, and shape up the light folds in the relief of the figure. Then take the third color, and lay it in, and [p. 51] make the folds which come on top of the relief; and work one well into the other, blending and laying in, as I taught you for fresco. Then take the lightest color, and put some white lead into it, with some tempera; and shape up the tops of the folds in the relief. Then take a little straight white lead, and go over certain strong reliefs as the nude of the figure requires. Then shape up the limits of the darkest folds and outlines with some straight ultramarine; and in this way stroke over the drapery the colors corresponding to each area, without mixing or contaminating one color with another, except delicately. And work with lac in the same way, and with every color which you use in secco, etc.

How to Make a Violet Color.
Chapter LXXIII

If you wish to make a pretty violet color, take fine lac and ultramarine blue, in equal parts. Then, when it is tempered, take three dishes as before; and leave some of this violet color in its little dish, for touching up the darks. Then, with what you take out of it, make up three values of color for laying in the drapery, each stepped up lighter than the others, as described above.

To Execute a Violet Color in Fresco.
Chapter LXXIII

If you want to make a violet for use in fresco, take indigo and hematite, and make a mixture like the previous one, without tempera; and make four values of it in all. Then execute your drapery.

To Try to Imitate an Ultramarine Blue for Use in Fresco.
Chapter LXXV

If you want to make a drapery in fresco which will look like ultramarine blue, take indigo and lime white, and step your colors up together; and then, in secco, touch it in with ultramarine blue in the accents. [p. 52]

To Paint a Purple or Turnsole Drapery In Fresco.
Chapter LXXVI

If you want to do a purple drapery in fresco which will look like lac, take hematite and lime white, and step up your colors as described. And blend them and work them well together. Then, in secco, touch it in with pure lac, tempered, in the accents.

To Paint a Shot[83] Green Drapery in Fresco.
Chapter LXXVII

If you want to make a shot drapery for an angel in fresco, lay in the drapery in two values of flesh color, one darker and one lighter, blending them well at the middle of the figure. Then, on the dark side, shade the darks with ultramarine blue; and shade with terre-verte on the lighter flesh color, touching it up afterward in secco. And know that everything which you execute in fresco needs to be brought to completion, and touched up, in secco with tempera. Make the lights on this drapery in fresco just as I have told you for the rest.

To Paint in Fresco a Drapery Shot with Ash Gray

If you want to make a shot drapery in fresco, take lime white and black, and make a minever color which is known as ash gray. Lay it in; put the lights on it, using giallorino for some and lime white for others, as you please. Apply the darks with black or with violet or with dark green.

To Paint one in Secco Shot with Lac

If you want to make a shot one in secco, lay it in with lac; put on the lights with flesh color, or with giallorino; shade the darks either with straight lac or with violet, with tempera. [p. 53]

To Paint one in Fresco or in Secco Shot with Ocher
Chapter LXXX

If you wish to make a shot one either in fresco or in secco, lay it in with ocher; put on the lights with white; and shade it with green in the light; and in the dark, with black and sinoper, or else with hematite.

To Paint a Greenish-Gray Costume in Fresco or in Secco.
Chapter LXXXI

If you wish to make a greenish-gray drapery, take black and ocher, that is, the two parts ocher and the third black; and step up the colors as I have taught you before, both in fresco and in secco.

To Paint a Costume, In Fresco and In Secco, of a Greenish-Gray Color like the Color of Wood.
Chapter LXXXII

If you want to make a wood color, take ocher, black, and sinoper; but the two parts ocher, and black and red to the amount of half the ocher. Step up your colors with this in fresco, in secco, and in tempera.

To Make a Drapery, or a Mantle for Our Lady, With Azurite or Ultramarine Blue. .

If you wish to make a mantle for Our Lady with azurite, or any other drapery which you want to make solid blue, begin by laying in the mantle or drapery in fresco with sinoper and black, the two parts sinoper,[84] and the third black. But first scratch in the plan of the folds with some little pointed iron, or with a needle. Then, in secco, take some azurite, well washed either with lye or with clear water, and worked over a little bit on the grinding slab. Then, if the blue is good [p. 54] and deep in color, put into it a little size, tempered neither too strong nor too weak [and I will tell you about that later on]. Likewise put an egg yolk into the blue; and if the blue is pale, the yolk should come from one of these country eggs, for they are quite red. Mix it up well. Apply three or four coats to the drapery, with a soft bristle brush. When you have got it well laid in, and after it is dry, take a little indigo and black, and proceed to shade the folds of the mantle as much as you can, going back into the shadows time and again, with just the tip of the brush. If you want to get a little light on the tops of the knees or other reliefs, scratch the pure blue with the point of the brush handle.[85]

If you want to put ultramarine blue on a ground or on a drapery, temper it as described for the azurite, and apply two or three coats of it over the latter. If you wish to shade the folds, take a little fine lac, and a little black, tempered with yolk of egg; and shade it as delicately and as neatly as you can, first with a little wash, and then with the point ; and make as few folds as possible, because ultramarine wants little association with any other mixture.

To Make a Black Drapery for a Monk's or Friar's Robe, in Fresco and in Secco.

If you want to make a black drapery, for a friar's or monk's robe, take pure black, stepping it up in several values, as I have already told you above, for fresco; for secco, mixed with a tempera.

On the Way to Paint a Mountain, in Fresco or in Secco.
Chapter LXXXV

If you want to do mountains in fresco or in secco, make a verdaccio color, one part of black, the two parts of ocher. Step up the colors, for fresco, with lime white and without tempera; and for secco, with [p. 55] white lead and with tempera. And apply to them the same system of shadow and relief that you apply to a figure. And the farther away you have to make the mountains look, the darker you make your colors; and the nearer you are making them seem, the lighter you make the colors.

The Way to Paint Trees and Plants and Foliage, in Fresco and in Secco.
Chapter LXXXVI

If you wish to embellish these mountains with groves of trees or with plants, first lay in the trunk of the tree with pure black, tempered, for they can hardly be done in fresco ; and then make a range of leaves with dark green, but using malachite, because terre-verte is not good; and see to it that you make them quite close. Then make up a green with giallorino, so that it is a little lighter, and do a smaller number of leaves, starting to go back to shape up some of the ridges. Then touch in the high lights on the ridges with straight giallorino, and you will see the reliefs of the trees and of the foliage. But before this, when you have got the trees laid in, do the base and some of the branches of the trees with black; and scatter the leaves upon them, and then the fruits; and scatter occasional flowers and little birds over the foliage.

How Buildings are to be Painted, in Fresco and in Secco.

If you want to do buildings, get them into your drawing in the scale you wish; and snap the lines.[86] Then lay them in with verdaccio, and with terre-verte, quite thin in fresco or in secco. And you may do some with violet, some with ash gray, some with green, some [p. 56] with greenish gray, and likewise with any color you wish. Then make a long ruler, straight and fine; and have it chamfered on one edge, so that it will not touch the wall, so that if you rub on it, or run along it with the brush and color, it will not smudge things for you; and you will execute those little moldings with great pleasure and delight; and in the same way bases, columns, capitals, facades, fleurons, canopies, and the whole range of the mason's craft, for it is a fine branch of our profession, and should be executed with great delight. And bear in mind that they must follow the same system of lights and darks that you have in the figures. And put in the buildings by this uniform system: that the moldings which you make at the top of the building should slant downward from the edge next to the roof; the molding in the middle of the building, halfway up the face, must be quite level and even; the molding at the base of the building underneath must slant upward, in the opposite sense to the upper molding, which slants downward.

The Way to Copy a Mountain from Nature
Ends the Third Section of This Book.
If you want to acquire a good style for mountains, and to have them look natural, get some large stones, rugged, and not cleaned up; and copy them from nature, applying the lights and the dark as your system requires.



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