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

9. 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]
CLVII A Short Section on Illuminating: First, How to Gild on Parchment
If you want to do illuminating, you must start by drawing the figures, foliage ornaments, letters, or whatever you want, with a little lead on parchment, that is, in books; then you must crisp up our drawing carefully with a pen. Then you will need to have some of a color, or rather, a gesso, which is called size, and is made as follows: take a little gesso sottile, and a small amount of white lead, less than a third as much as of the gesso; then take a little sugar candy,[185] less than the white lead. Grind these things very fine with clear water. Then scrape it up; and let it dry without sun. When you want to use some for gilding, take a little of it, as much as you need; and temper it with white of egg, well beaten as I taught you before. And temper this mixture with it. Let it dry. Then take your gold: and you may lay it either with breathing or without breathing. And as you lay the gold on it, take your crook[186] and burnishing stone, and burnish it once; and put[187] a solid little panel of good wood, nicely smoothed, under the parchment; and do the burnishing on that. And know that with this size you can write letters with a quill, grounds, or whatever you please; for it is most perfect. And before you gild it, see whether you need to scrape it, or level it, or clean it up at all, with a knife [p. 100]point; because your little brush sometimes lays more in one place than in another. Always look out for this.

CLVIII Another Kind of Size: For Grounds Only.[188]
If you want another kind of size--but it is not so perfect, though it is good for gilding a ground, but not for writing--take gesso sottile,[189] and the third, white lead, and the fourth, Armenian bole, and a little sugar. Grind all these things very fine with white of egg. Then lay it in as usual. Let it dry. Then scrape and clean up your "gesso" with the point of a penknife. Put the little panel, or a good flat stone, under the parchment, and burnish it. And if, by chance, it does not take a good burnish, wet the gesso when you are gilding, with clear water on a little minever brush; and when it is dry, burnish it.

CLIX How to Make and Use Mosaic Gold.[190]
I want to show you about a color of these illuminators, similar to gold, which is good on parchment; and it might be used on panel too, but be as careful as of fire in using it. Do not let any of this color, which is known as mosaic gold, come anywhere near any gold ground; for I warn you that if it were on a ground of gilding which stretched from here to Rome, and there were as much as half a millet seed of quicksilver in it, and this came in contact with that gold ground, it would be enough to ruin the whole thing. The best antidote which you can apply quickly is to make a scratch on the gold with the point of a penknife, or a needle; and it will not creep any farther. This mosaic gold is made as follows. Take sal ammoniac, tin, sulphur, quicksilver, in equal parts; except less of the quicksilver. Put [p. 101] these ingredients into a flask of iron, copper, or glass. Melt it all on the fire, and it is done. Then temper it with white of egg and gum, and work with it as you wish. If you do draperies with it, shade either with lac or with blue, or with violet,[191] always tempering your colors with gum arabic for use on parchment.

CLX How to Grind Gold and Silver for Use as Colors.[192]
If you want to work with gold on panel, or on parchment, or on wall, or anywhere else, but not all solid like a gold ground; or if you want to make a tree to look like one of the trees of Paradise, take a number of leaves of fine gold according to the work which you want to do, or to write, with it; say ten or twenty leaves. Put them on your porphyry slab, and work this gold up well with some well-beaten white of egg; and then put it into a little glazed dish. Put in enough tempera to make it flow from the quill or the brush; and you may do any work you want to with it. You may likewise grind it with gum arabic, for use on parchment. And if you are doing leaves of trees, mix with this gold a little very finely ground green, for the dark leaves. And in this way, by mixing it with other colors, you may make shot effects to suit yourself.

By the use of this ground gold, or silver, or alloyed gold, you may also lace draperies in the antique style, and make certain embellishments which are not much practiced by others and do you credit. But you yourself must use judgment in learning how to make good use of all that I am showing you.

Milanesi only [Chapter number]
CLXI Colors for Use on Parchment
It is true that you may use on parchment any of the colors which you use on panel; but they must be ground very fine. It is likewise true that there are certain colors which have no body, known as [p. 102] clothlets, and they are made in every color; and it is only necessary to take a bit of this clothlet, of any color it may be dyed or colored, put it into a little glazed dish, or into a drinking c p; put in some gum; and it is ready for use.

There is also a color made of brazil boiled with lye and rock alum; and then, when it is cold, it is ground with quicklime, and makes a very lovely pink, and develops a little body. [p. 103]



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