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

8. 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]
CLIV Introduction to a Short Section on Varnishing
It seems to me that I have had enough to say about the system of painting, on wall, in fresco and secco, and on panel. Now we are going to get on to the system of painting and gilding and illuminating on parchment. But first I should like to look into the process of varnishing a panel or ancona, and any other sort of job, except on a wall.

CLV When to Varnish.[180]
Know that the secret of the best and most beautiful kind of varnishing is this: that the longer you delay after the painting of the panel, the better it is. I say emphatically: if you wait for several years, and at the very least for one, your work will come out the fresher. The reason is that the painting will automatically achieve the character which gold displays, which does not want companionship with other metals, and colors certainly display, for when they are in the [p. 98] company of their own temperas they do not want any other admixture of any other temperas. Varnish is a powerful liquid, and it is revealing, and it wants to be obeyed in everything, and it cancels any other tempera. And immediately, as you spread it out on your work, every color immediately loses some of its resistance, and is obliged to yield to the varnish, and never again has the power to go on refreshing itself with its own tempera. And so it is a good plan to wait as long as you can before varnishing; for if you varnish after the colors and their temperas have run their course, they then become very fresh and beautiful, and remain in pristine state forever.

CLV How to Apply the Varnish.[181]
So then, take your varnish, as liquid and light and clear as you can get it. Place your ancona in the sun, and sweep it off; wipe it as clean as you can of dust and dirt of any kind. And see to it that the weather be not windy, because dust is light, and if ever the wind should blow it on to your work you could not get it clean again even by skillful treatment. You would be well off in certain fields of grass, or at sea, so that dust could not cause you any trouble. When you have warmed the panel in the sun, and the varnish too, lay the panel out level, and spread this varnish thinly and thoroughly all over it with your hand. But take care not to run over on to the gold, for it does not want to be associated with varnish or with other liquids. Again, if you do not want to work with our hand, take a little piece of nice soft sponge dipped in this varnish; and by rolling it over the ancona with your hand, varnish methodically; and take away and add as proves necessary. If you want to have the varnish dry without sun, cook it thoroughly in the first place; for the panel will be very well off not to be strained by the sun too severely.

CLVI How to Make a Painting Look as if it were Varnished.[182]
In order to give one of your works the appearance of being varnished within a short time,[183] without actually being so, take some [p. 99]white of egg, beaten as thoroughly as possible with the whist, so that it comes out a good solid foam; let it distill for a night. Take the part that has distilled, in a little new dish, and lay it all over your works with a minever brush; and they will look as if they were varnished, and likewise they are stronger. This sort of "varnishing" is well adapted to carved figures, either of wood or of stone; and varnish their faces, hands, and their flesh colors in this way. And this will have to be enough comment upon varnishing; and we will talk about painting and illuminating on parchment. [p. 100]



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