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

Second Section

The Second Section of this Book:
Bringing you to the Working up of the Colors.
Chapter XXXV
To approach the glory of the profession step by step, let us come to the working up of the colors, informing you which are the choicest colors, and the coarsest, and the most fastidious; which one needs to be worked up or ground but little, which a great deal; which one calls for one tempera, which requires another; and just as they differ in their colors, so do they also in the characters of their temperas and their working up.

This Shows you the Natural Colors, and How you Should Grind Black.
Chapter XXXVI
Know that there are seven natural colors[23], or rather, four actually mineral in character, namely, black, red, yellow, and green; three are natural colors, but need to be helped artificially, as lime white, blues--ultramarine, azurite[24]--giallorino.[25] Let us go no father, but return to the black color. To work it up properly, take a slab of red porphyry, which is a strong and solid stone; for there are various kinds of slabs for grinding colors, such as porphyry, serpentine, and marble. Serpentine is a soft stone and is not good; marble is still worse, for it is too soft. But porphyry is best of all; and it will be better if you get one of those which are not so very much polished, and a foot[26] or more in width, and square. Then get a stone to hold in your hand, also of porphyry, flat underneath, and rounded on top in the shape of a porringer, and smaller than a porringer, shaped so that your hand may be able to guide it readily, and to move it this way then that, at will. Then take a portion of this black, or of any other color, the size of a nut; and put it on this stone, and with the one which you hold in your hand crush this black up thoroughly. Then take some clear river or fountain or well water, and grind this black for the space of half an hour, or an hour, or as long as you like; but know that if you were to work it up for a year it would be so much the blacker and better a color. Then get a thin wooden slice,[27] three fingers broad; and [p. 21] it should have an edge like a knife; and scrape over the slab with this edge, and gather the color up neatly; and always keep it liquid, and not too dry, so that it may run well on the stone, and so that you may be able to grind it thoroughly, and gather it up well. Then put it into the little jar, and put enough of the aforesaid clear water in with it to fill up the jar; and always keep it under water in this way, and well covered from dust and all contamination, say in a little chest arranged to hold several jars of liquors.[28]

How to Make Various Sorts of Black
Chapter XXXVII
Know that there are several kinds of black colors. There is a black which is a soft, black stone; it is a fat color.[29] Bearing in mind that every lean color is better than the fat one [except that, for gilding, the fatter the bole or terre-verte which you get for gilding on panel, the better the gold comes out], let us leave this section. Then there is a black which is made from vine twigs; these twigs are to be burned; and when they are burnt, throw water on them, and quench them; and then work them up like the other black. And this is a color both black and lean; and it is one of the perfect colors which we employ; and it is the whole . . . .[30] There is another black which is made from burnt almond shells or peach stones, and this is a perfect black, and fine. There is another black which is made in this manner: take a lamp full of linseed oil, and fill the lamp with this oil, and light the lamp. Then put it, so lighted, underneath a good clean baking dish, and have the little flame of the lamp come about to the bottom of the dish, two or three fingers away, and the smoke which comes out of [p. 22] the flame will strike on the bottom of the dish, and condense in a mass. Wait a while; take the baking dish, and with some implement sweep this color, that is, this soot, off onto a paper, or into some dish; and it does not have to be worked up or ground, for it is a very fine color. Refill the lamp with the oil in this way several times, and put it back under the dish; and make as much of it in this way as you need.

On the Character of the Red Color Called Sinoper
A natural color known as sinoper, or porphyry, is red; and this color is lean and dry in character. It stands working up well; for the more it is worked up, the finer it becomes. It is good for use on panel or anconas, or on the wall, in fresco or in secco. And I will explain this "fresco" and "secco" to you when we discuss working on the wall. And let this do for the first red.

How to Make the Red Called Cinabrese, for Doing Flesh on the Wall; and About its Character

A color known as light cinabrese is red, and as far as I know this color is not used anywhere but in Florence; and it is very perfect for doing flesh, or making the flesh colors of figures on a wall; and use it in fresco. This color is made of the handsomest and lightest sinoper obtainable;[31] and it is mixed and worked up with lime white;[32] and this white is made from very white and well-purified lime. And when these two colors are well worked up together, that is, the two parts [p. 23] cinabrese[33] and the third lime white, make little cakes of it, like halves of nuts, and let them dry. Whenever you need some, take what you think fit; for this color does you great credit in painting countenances, hands, and nudes on the wall, as I have said. And you can make handsome costumes with it sometimes, which, on the wall, will seem to be vermilion.[34]

On the Character of the Red Called Vermilion; And How it Should be Worked Up.
Chapter XL.
A color known as vermilion is red; and this color is made by alchemy, prepared in a retort. I am leaving out the system for this, because it would be too tedious to set forth in my discussion all the methods and receipts. Because, if you want to take the trouble, you will find plenty of receipts for it, and especially by asking of the friars. But I advise you rather to get some of that which you find at the druggists' for your money, so as not to lose time in the many variations of procedure. And I will teach you how to buy it, and to recognize the good vermilion. Always buy vermilion unbroken, and not pounded or ground. The reason? Because it is generally adulterated, either with red lead or with pounded brick. Examine the unbroken lump of vermilion; and at the top, where the structure[35] is most spread out and delicate, that is the best. Then put this on the aforesaid slab, and grind it with clear water as much as ever you can; for if you were to grind it every day for twenty years it would still be better and more perfect. This color calls for various temperas, according to the situations in which you have to use it, which we shall deal with later on; and I will teach you where it is most appropriate. But bear in mind that it is not its nature to be exposed to the air, but it stands up better on panel than on the wall; because, in the course of time, from exposure to the air, it turns black when it is used and laid on the wall. [p. 24]

On the Character of a Red Called Red Lead.
Chapter XLI
A color known as red lead is red, and it is manufactured by alchemy. This color is good only for working on panel, for if you use it on the wall it soon turns black, on exposure to the air, and loses its color.

On the Character of a Red called Hamatite.[36]
Chapter XLII
A color known as hematite is red. This color is natural, and it is a very strong and solid stone. And it is so solid and perfect that stones and crooks are made of it for burnishing gold on panel;[37] and they acquire a black and perfect color, dark as a diamond.[38] The pure stone is the color of purple or turnsole, and has a structure like vermilion.[39] Pound this stone in a bronze mortar at first, because if you broke it up on your porphyry slab you might crack it. And when you have got it pounded, put on the slab as much of it as you want to work up, and grind it with clear water; and the more you work it up, the better and more perfect color it becomes. This color is good on the wall, for working in fresco; and makes a color for you like a cardinal's,[40] or a [p. 25] purple or lac color. It is not good to try to use it for other things, or with temperas.

On the Character of a Red Called Dragonsblood.
Chapter XLIII
A color known as dragonsblood is red. This color is used occasionally on parchment, for illuminating. But leave it alone, and do not have too much respect for it; for it is not of a constitution to do you much credit.

On the Character of a Red Called Lac.[41]
Chapter XLIIII
A color known as lac is red, and it is an artificial color. And I have various receipts for it; but I advise you, for the sake of our works, to get the color ready-made for your money. But take care to recognize the good kind, because there are several types of it. Some lake[42] is made from the shearings of cloth,[43] and it is very attractive to the eye. Beware of this type, for it always retains some fatness in it, because of the alum,[44] and does not last at all, either with temperas or without temperas, and quickly loses its color. Take good care to avoid this; [p. 26] but get the lac which is made from gum;[45] and it is dry, lean, granular, and looks almost black, and contains a sanguine color. This kind cannot be other than good and perfect. Take this, and work it up on your slab; grind it with clear water. And it is good on panel; and it is also used on the wall with a tempera; but the air is its undoing. There are those who grind it with urine; but it becomes unpleasant, for it promptly goes bad.

On the Character of a Yellow Color called Ocher
Chapter XLV
A natural color known as ocher is yellow. This color is found in the earth in the mountains, where there are found certain seams resembling sulphur; and where these seams are, there is found sinoper, and terre-verte and other kinds of color. I found this when I was guided one day be Andrea Cennini, my father, who led me through the territory of Colle di Val d'Elsa, close to the borders of Casole, at the beginning of the forest of the commune of Colle, above a township called Dometaria. And upon reaching a little valley, a very wild steep place, scraping the steep with a spade, I beheld seems of many kinds of color: ocher, dark and light sinoper, blue, and white; and this I held the greatest wonder in the world--that white could exist in a seam of earth; advising you that I made a trial of this white, and found it fat, unfit for flesh color. In this place there was also a seam of black color. And these colors showed up in this earth just the way a wrinkle shows in the face of a man or woman.

To go back to the ocher color, I picked out the "wrinkle" of this color with a penknife; and I do assure you that I never tried a handsomer, more perfect ocher color. It did not come out so light as giallorino; a little bit darker; but for hair, and for costumes, as I shall teach you later, I never found a better color than this. Ocher color is of two sorts, light and dark. Each color calls for the same method of working up with clear water; and work it up thoroughly, for it goes on getting better. And know that this ocher is an all-round color, [p. 27] especially for work in fresco; for it is used, with other mixtures, as I shall explain to you, for flesh colors, for draperies, for painted mountains, and buildings and horses, and in general for many purposes. And this color is course by nature.[46]

On the Character of a Yellow Color called Giallorino[47]
Chapter XLVI
A color known as giallorino is yellow, and it is a manufactured one. It is very solid, and heavy as a stone, and hard to break up. This color is used in fresco, and lasts forever, that is, on the wall; and on panel, with temperas. This color is to be ground, like the others aforesaid, with clear water. It does not want to be worked up very much, and since it is very troublesome to reduce it to powder, you will do well to pound it in a bronze mortar, as you have to do with the hematite, before you work it up. And when you have made use of it, it is a very handsome yellow color; for with this color, with other mixtures, as I will show you, attractive foliage and grass colors are made. And as I understand it, this color is actually a mineral, originating in the neighborhood of great volcanoes; so I tell you that it is a color produced artificially, though not by alchemy.

On the Character of a Yellow Called Orpiment.
Chapter XLVII
A color known as orpiment is yellow. This color is an artificial one. It is made by alchemy, and is really poisonous. And in color it is [p. 28] a handsome yellow more closely resembling gold than any other color. It is not good for use on a wall, either in fresco or with temperas, because it turns black on exposure to the air. It is very good for painting on shields and lances. A mixture of some of this color with Bagdad indigo gives a green color for grasses and foliage. Its tempera calls for nothing but size. Sparrowhawks are physicked with this color against a certain illness which affects them. And this color is, to start with, the most refractory color to work up that there is in our profession. And so, when you want to work it up, put the amount you want onto your stone; and, with the one which you hold in your hand, proceed to coax it, little by little, so as to squeeze it from one stone to the other, mixing in a little of the glass of a broken goblet, because the powder of the glass attracts the orpiment to the roughness of the stone. When you have got it powdered, put some clear water on it, and work it up as much as you can; for if you were to work it for ten years, it would constantly become more perfect. Beware of soiling your mouth with it, lest you suffer personal injury.

On the Character of a Yellow which is Called Realgar.
Chapter XLVIII
A yellow color known as realgar is yellow. This color is really poisonous. We do not use it, except sometimes on panel. There is no keeping company with it. When you want to work it up,[48] adopt those measures which I have taught you for the other colors. It wants to be ground a great deal with clear water. And look out for yourself.

On the Character of a Yellow Called Saffron.
A color which is made from an herb called saffron is yellow. You should put it on a linen cloth, over a hot stone or brick. Then take half a goblet or glass full of good strong lye. Put this saffron on it; work it up on the slab. This makes a fine color for dyeing linen or cloth. It is good on parchment. And see that it is not exposed to the [p. 29] air, for it soon loses its color. And if you want to make the most perfect grass color imaginable, take a little verdigris and some saffron; that is, of the three parts let one be saffron; and it comes out the most perfect grass-green imaginable, tempered with a little size, as I will show you later.

On the Character of a Yellow called Arzica.[49]
Chapter L.
A color known as arzica is yellow; and this color is made alchemically, and is but little used. Working with this color is chiefly a matter for illuminators; and it is used more in the neighborhood of Florence than anywhere else. This is a very thin color. It fades in the open; it is not good on the wall; it is all right on panel. It makes a lovely green if you mix in a little azurite and giallorino. Like the other choice colors it wants to be ground with clear water.

On the Character of a Green Called Terre-Verte.
Chapter LI
A natural earth color which is called terre-verte is green. This color has several qualities: first, that it is a very fat color. It is good for use in faces, draperies, buildings, in fresco, in secco, on wall, on panel, and wherever you wish. Work it up with clear water, like the other colors mentioned above; and the more you work it up, the better it will be. And, if you temper it as I shall show you the bole for gilding, you may gild with this terre-verte in the same way. And know that the ancients never used to gild on panel except with this green. [p. 30]

On the Character of a Green Called Malachite.[50]
Chapter LII
A half natural color is green; and this is produced artificially, for it is formed out of azurite; and it is called malachite. I will not tell you how it is produced, but buy it ready-made. This color is good in secco, with a tempera of yolk of egg, for making trees and foliage, and for laying in. And put the lights on it with giallorino. This color is rather coarse by nature, and looks like fine sand. For the sake of the color, work it up very, very little, with a light touch; for if you were to grind it too much, it would come out a dingy and ashy color.[51] It should be worked up with clear water; and when you have got it worked up, put it into the dish; put some clear water over the color, and stir the water up well with the color. Then let it stand for the space of one [p. 31] hour, or two or three; and pour off the water; and the green will be more beautiful. And wash it this way two or three times, and it will be still more beautiful.

How you Make a Green with Orpiment and Indigo.
Chapter LIII
A color which is made of orpiment, two parts, and one part indigo, is green; and it is worked up well with clear water. This color is good for painting shields and lances, and is also used for painting rooms in secco. It does not want any temperas except size.

How you Make a Green with Blue and Giallorino
Chapter LIIII
A color which is made of azurite and giallorino is green. This is good on wall and on panel. It is tempered with yolk of egg. If you want it to be more beautiful, put in a little arzica. And also it will be a handsome color if you put into the azurite some wild plums,[52] crushing them up; and make a verjuice of them, and put four or six drops of this verjuice on this azurite; and it will be a beautiful green. It will not stand exposure to the air; and in the course of time the juice of the plums will eventually disappear. [p. 32]

How to Make a Green with Ultramarine Blue.
Chapter LV.
A color which is made of ultramarine blue and orpiment is green. You must combine these colors prudently. Take the orpiment first, and mix the blue with it. If you want it to incline toward light, let the orpiment predominate; if you want it to incline toward dark, let the blue prevail. This color is good on panel, but not on the wall. Temper it with size.

On the Character of a Green Called Verdigris.
Chapter LVI
A color known as verdigris is green. It is very green by itself. And it is manufactured by alchemy, from copper and vinegar. This color is good on panel, tempered with size. Take care never to get it near any white lead, for they are mortal enemies in every respect. Work it up with vinegar, which it retains in accordance with its nature. And if you wish to make a most perfect green for grass . . .,[53] it is beautiful to the eye, but it does not last. And it is especially good on paper or parchment, tempered with yolk of egg.

How you Make a Green with White Lead and Terre-Verte; Or Lime White.
Chapter LVII
A sage color which is made by mixing white lead and terre-verte is [p. 33] green. It is good on panel, tempered with yolk of egg, or on the wall, in fresco, with the terre-verte mixed with lime white, made from white, prepared lime.

On the Character of Lime White.
Chapter LVIII
A natural color, but still artificially prepared, is white, and it is made as follows: take good white air-slaked lime; put it, in the form of powder, into a pail for the space of eight days, adding clear water every day, and stirring up the lime and water thoroughly, so as to get all the fatness out of it. Then make it up into little cakes; put them up on the roofs in the sun; and the older these cakes are, the better the white will be. If you want to make it quickly and well, when the cakes are dry, work them up with water on your stone; and then make it into little cakes and dry them again; and do this twice, and you will see how perfect the white will be. This white is worked up with water, and it wants to be ground thoroughly. And it is good for working in fresco, that is, on a wall without any tempera; and without this you cannot accomplish anything in the way of flesh color and other mixtures of the other colors which you make for a wall, that is, for fresco; and it never wants any tempera whatever.

On the Character of White Lead.
Chapter LVIIII
A color made alchemically from lead is white, and it is called white lead. This white lead is very brilliant; and it comes in little cakes like goblets or drinking glasses. And if you wish to recognize the choicest sort, always take some of that on the top of the lump, which is shaped like a cup. The more you grind this color, the more perfect it will be. And it is good on panel. It is even used on walls, but avoid it as much as you can, or in the course of time it turns black. It is ground with clear water; it is compatible with any tempera, and it serves you as your whole standard for lightening all colors on panel just as lime white does on the wall. [p. 34]




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