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

6. Tambroni / Milanesi

Note: The following chapter numbers and headings are not original to the Libro dell' Arte. The headings have been invented merely to serve as a running guide to the content of the text; the numbers are those attached to the chapters in the editions of Tambroni and the Milanesi, and are included here for convenience in locating references to those editions or to translations based upon them. [See Preface, p. xviii, above.]

Tambroni/Milanesi [Chapter numbers]
CXLI How to Design Gold Brocades in Various Colors.
Before you get started on painting, I want to show you how to make a cloth of gold. If you want to make a mantle, or a gown, or a little cushion, out of cloth of gold, lay the gold with bole; and scratch in the folds of the drapery, just the way I taught you for gilding a ground. Then, if you want to make the cloth red, lay in with vermilion over this burnished gold. If you need to put any dark o nit, put it on with lac; if you need to put on lights, put them on with red [p. 87] lead; all tempered with yolk of egg; but not rubbing your brush too hard, nor too many times. Let it dry; and put on at least two coats of it. And in the same way, if you want to make them green, black, or any way you like. But if you should want to do them with a handsome ultramarine blue, begin by laying in over the gold with white lead tempered with yolk of egg. When it is dry, temper your ultramarine blue with a little size and a little yolk, perhaps two drops; and lay in two or three coats of it over this white lead; and let it dry. Then you prepare your pounce patterns according to the cloths which you want to make; that is, first draw them on parchment;[138] and then prick them carefully with a needle, holding a piece of canvas or cloth under the paper. Or do the pricking over a poplar or linden board; this is better than the canvas. When you have got them pricked, take dry colors according to the colors of the cloths upon which you have to pounce. If it is a white cloth, pounce with charcoal dust wrapped up in a bit of rag; if the cloth is black, pounce it with white lead, with the powder done up in a rag; and sic de singulis. Make your repeats so that they register well on each side.

CXLII How to Execute Gold or Silver Brocades.[139]
When you have pounced your cloth, take a little style of birch, or hard wood, or bone; with a point, like a regular style for drawing, at one end; and a little edge at the other, for scraping. And with the point of this style, sketch in and shape up all your cloths; and with the other end of the style, scrape and remove the color from them, nicely, so as not to scratch the gold. And scrape whichever you please, either the ground or the pattern,[140] and whatever you uncover, you [p. 87] stamp afterward with the rosette.[141] And if you cannot get the rosette into the little strokes, take a single little iron punch with a point like a drawing style. And in this way you begin learning how to make cloths of gold. If you want to make a cloth of silver, you must use the same system and method for laying silver as for laying gold. And, indeed, I advise you, if you want to teach boys or children how to do gilding, have them lay silver, so as to get some experience with it; for it is less expensive.

CXLIII Several Rules for Cloths of Gold and Silver.[142]
Again, when you want to make a rich cloth of gold, the drapery which you wish to do may be modeled up with leaves and mounted jewels of various color; then lay fine gold all over it; and then stamp it after it is burnished.

Item. Gild the whole ground; burnish it; draw upon it the cloth which you wish to make, animal forms, or other subjects. Then stamp either the ground or the pattern,[143] that is, the subjects drawn upon it.

Item. Gild the ground; burnish it; and model it in the stamping.[144]

Item. Gild the ground; draw on it the subject which you want; lay in the grounds with verdigris in oil, shading some folds twice; then lay some uniformly all over the grounds and the subjects evenly.

Item. Lay the drapery in silver; after you have burnished, for that is always understood, design your cloth; lay in the ground or the pattern[145] with vermilion, just tempered with yolk of egg; then lay a coat or two of fine lac in oil over each subject, like a pattern on a ground.[146] [p. 88]

Item. If you want to make a handsome cloth with ultramarine blue, lay your drapery in burnished silver; design your cloth; set out either the grounds or the patterns[147] with this blue, tempering it with size. Then lay some evenly all over the grounds and the patterns; and it will be a velvety cloth.

Item. Lay in and clothe the figure with any color you wish; shade it. Then take a fine minever brush, and some of the mordants. When you have got it pounced, work with the mordants, as I shall explain to you later on, according to the way you want to make the cloths and patterns.[147 again] And you may lay these mordants with gold or with silver; and they will come out lovely cloths if you sweep them off and burnish them with cotton.

Item. When you have worked with any color you wish, as I said a little way back, and you want to get a shot effect, work over the gold with any oil color you please, provided it differs from the ground.

Item. For a wall, put in the drapery with golden tin; lay it in with any ground you please; pounce it; execute and scrape the cloth with the wooden style, with the colors still tempered with yolk of egg. And it will be a very lovely cloth, as walls go. But you can work with mordants on a wall, as well as on panel.

CXLIV How to Do Velvet, Wool, and Silk.[148]
If you want to get the effect of a velvet, do the drapery with any color you wish, tempered with yolk of egg. Then make the cut threads, as the velvet requires,[149] with a minever brush, in a color tempered [p. 89] with oil; and make the cut threads rather coarse. And you may make black velvets in this way, and red ones, and any colored ones, tempering in this way.

Sometimes on a wall a lining has to be simulated, or a drapery which shall really look like woolen cloth. And for this, when you have plastered, smoothed down, and done the painting, put off whatever you want to do until afterward. And take a little block, not much bigger than a checker[150] and, sprinkling clear water into or over this part with the brush, work over it, around and around, with this little block. The mortar gets rough and poor surfaced. Let it stay so, and paint it as it is, without smoothing down. And it will really look like woolen stuff or cloth.[151]

Item. If you want to make a silk cloth, either on panel or wall, lay it in with vermilion, and hatch or sprig it[152] with red lead. Or hatch with dark sinoper; or hatch with vermilion or with giallorino on the [p. 90] wall, and on panel, with orpiment.[153] Or lay in dark with green or any color you please, and hatch it light.

Item. On a wall, in fresco, lay in with indigo; and hatch with indigo and lime white mixed together. And if you wish to work with this color on panel, or on shields, mix the indigo with white lead tempered with size. And in this way you may make many cloths of various kinds, according to your understanding and to how much you enjoy it.

CXLV How To Paint on Panel.[154]
I believe that by yourself you will have enough understanding, with our experience, to train yourself, by following this method, to understand working neatly with various kinds of cloth. And by the grace of God it is time for us to come to painting on panel. And let me tell you that doing a panel is really a gentlelman's job, for you may do anything you want to with velvets on your back.[155] And it is true that the painting of the panel is carried out just as I taught you to work in fresco, except that you vary it in three[156] respects. The first, that you always want to work on draperies and buildings before faces. The second is that you must always temper your colors with yolk of egg, and get them tempered thoroughly--always as much yolk as the color which you are tempering. The third is that the colors want to be more choice, and well worked up, like water. And for your great pleasure, always start by doing draperies with lac[157] by the same system which I showed you for fresco; that is, leave the first value in its own color; and take the two parts of lac color, the third of white lead; and when this is tempered, step up three values from it, which vary slightly [p. 91] from each other; tempered well, as I have told you, and always made lighter with white lead well worked up. Then set our ancona up in front of you; and mind you always keep it covered with a sheet, for the sake of the gold and the gessos, so that they may not be injured by dust, and that your jobs may quit your hands very clean.[158] Then take a rather blunt minever brush, and start to apply the dark color, shaping up the folds where the dark part of the figure is to come. And in the usual way take the middle color and lay in the backs and the reliefs of the dark folds, and begin with this color to shape up the folds of the relief, and around toward the light part of the figure. And shape it up once more in this way. Then take the light color, and lay in the reliefs and the backs of the light part of the figure. And in this way go back once again to the first dark folds of the figure with the dark color. And carry on as you began, with these colors, over and over again, first one and then the other, laying them in afresh and blending them skillfully, softening delicately. And with this[159] you have enough time so that you can get up from your work and rest yourself for a while, and reflect upon this work of yours. Work on panel wants to be done with much enjoyment.

When you have got it well laid in and these three colors blended, make another lighter one out of the lightest, always washing the brush between one color and the next; and out of this lighter one make another lighter still; and have the variations among them very slight. Then touch in with pure white lead, tempered as has been said; and touch in with it over the strongest reliefs. And make the darks, gradually, in the same way, until you finally touch in the strongest darks with pure lac. And bear this in mind: just as you prepared your colors value by value, so you put them into your little dishes value by value, so as not to take one of them for another by mistake.

And use this same system, likewise, for any color which you want to paint, whether reds, or whites, or yellows, or greens. But if you want to make a lovely violet color, take good choice lac, and good choice fine ultramarine blue; and with this mixture and white lead [p. 93] make up your colors, value by value, always tempering them. If you wish to do a drapery with blue with lights on it, make it lighter in this way with white lead; and execute it in the way described above.

CXLVI How to make Draperies in Blue and Purple.[160]
If you want to do a blue, that is, for a drapery, neither wholly modeled with lights nor all just laid in flat,[161] take some of three or four divisions of ultramarine blue,[162] for you will find various grades of it, one lighter than another. And paint according to the lighting of the figure, as I have shown you above. And you can work in this way on a wall with the tempera mentioned above, in secco. And if you do not want to make the outlay for these divisions, you will find grades of azurite.[163] And if you want to brocade[164] them with gold, you may do that too; and touch them in afterward with a little violet in the darks of the f olds, and a little in the lights, shaping them up nicely, shaping up the folds over the gold. And draperies like these will please you very much, and particularly for draperies of the Lord God.

And if you wish to clothe Our Lady with a purple,[165] make the drapery white, shaded with a little violet so very light that it is just off white. Brocade it[166] with fine gold, and then touch it up, and shape up the folds over the gold, with a little darker violet; and it is a very handsome drapery.

CXLVII How to Paint Faces.[167]
When you have done the draperies, trees, buildings, and mountains, and got them painted, you must come to painting the faces; and those you should begin in this way. Take a little terre-verte and a little white lead, well tempered; and lay two coats all over the face, over the hands, over the feet, and over the nudes. But for faces of young people with cool flesh color this couch should be tempered, [p. 93] the couch, and the flesh colors too, with yolk of a town hen's egg, because these are whiter yolks than the ones which country or farm hens produce; those are good, because of their redness, for tempering flesh colors for aged and swarthy persons. And whereas on a wall you make your pinks with cinabrese, bear in mind that on panel they should be made with vermilion. And when you are putting on the first pinks, do not have it straight vermilion--have a little white lead in it. And also put a little white lead into the verdaccio with which you shade at first. Just exactly as you work and paint on a wall, in just that same method, make three values of flesh color, each lighter than the other; laying each flesh color in its place on the areas of the face; still do not work up so close to the verdaccio shadows as to cover them entirely; but work them out with the darkest flesh colors fusing and softening them like a puff of smoke. And bear in mind that the panel needs to be laid in more times than a wall; but still not so much as not to need to have the green, which lies under the flesh colors, always show through a little. When you have got your flesh colors down so that the face is about right, make a flesh color a little bit lighter, and pick out the forms[168] of the face, making it gradually lighter, in a careful way, until you finally come to touch in with pure white lead any little relief more pronounced than the rest, such as there would be over the eyebrow, or on the tip of the nose, etc. Then outline the upper edge of the eyes with an outline of black, with a few lashes[169] as the eye requires, and the nostrils of the nose. Then take a little dark sinoper and a trace of black; and outline all the accents of nose, eyes, brows, the hair, hands, feet, and every thing in general, as I showed you for a wall; always using that yolk-of-egg tempera.

CXLVIII How to Paint a Dead Man.[170]
We shall next speak about the way to paint a dead man, that is, the face, the breast, and wherever in any part the nude may show. It is the same on panel as on wall: except that on a wall it is not necessary to lay in all over with terre-verte; it is enough if it is laid in the transition between the shadows and the flesh colors. But on a panel lay it in as usual, as you were taught for a colored or live face; and shade it with the same verdaccio, as usual. And do not apply any pink at all, because a dead person has no color; but take a little light ocher, and step up three values of flesh color with it, just with white lead, and tempered as usual; laying each of these flesh colors in its place, blending them nicely into each other, both on the face and on the body. And likewise, when you have got them almost covered, make another still lighter flesh color from this light one, until you get the major accents of the reliefs up to straight white lead. And mark out all the outlines with dark sinoper and a little black, tempered; and this will be called "sanguine." And manage the hair in the same way, but not so that it looks alive, but dead, with several grades of verdaccio. And just as I showed you various types and styles for beards on the wall, so on panel you do them in the same way; and so do every bone of a Christian, or of rational creatures; do them with these flesh colors aforesaid.

CXLIX How to Paint Wounds.[171]
To do, that is, to paint, a wounded man, or rather a wound, take straight vermilion; get it laid in wherever you want to do blood. Then take a little fine lac, well tempered in the usual way, and shade all over this blood, either drops or wounds, or whatever it happens to be.

CL How to Paint Water.[172]
Whenever you want to do a stream, a river, or any body of water you please, either with fish or without, on wall or on panel; on a wall, take that same verdaccio which you used for shading the faces on the mortar; do the fish, shading with this verdaccio the shadows always on their backs; bearing in mind that fish, and in general all irrational animals, ought to have the dark part on top and the light underneath. Then when you have shaded with verdaccio, put on lights underneath, [p. 95] with lime white on the wall; and with white lead on panel. And make a few shadows over the fish, and all over the background, with the same verdaccio. And if you care to make any outstanding fish, place it with a few spines of gold. Then, in secco, lay verdigris in oil uniformly over the whole ground; and work this way also on panel. And if you do not want to work in oil, take some terre-verte, or malachite, and cover evenly all over; but not so much that the fish and waves of water do not still show through; and, if they need it, put a few lights on the waves, with lime white on the wall, and tempered white lead on panel. And let this suffice you for the business of painting; and let us get on to the study of embellishing. But let us first discuss the mordants.



The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only. The contents of this site may not be reproduced in any form without proper reference to Text, Author, Publisher, and Date of Publication [and page #s when suitable].