Notebook

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 163-283

Notes 125-162


125. See Chapter XLII, and n. i, p. 25, above. Amorphous hematite, and kidney ore are, of course, unsuitable for burnishers; the best, as Cennino specifies, is the specular iron ore, the crystalline form.

126. Teeth of herbivorous animals were also employed. Rockinger, art. cit., p. 4, , supra, 1te Abt., p. 49. n., quotes from Munich, Staatsbibliothek, Cod. germ. 821, Liber illuministarum pro fundamentis auri et coloribus ac consimilibus, foll. 209r-209v, the following directions, given by "Johannes Purger, caplan ze Trienndt," for preparing a horse's tooth for use as a burnisher:

"Schleiff jn mit dem weczstain am ersten, das er gleich werd, hüet dich das du das jnner vnder dem weissen auff dem zand nit beruerst, anders ist er nichts werd. vnd leym jn wol ein in ein holcz, das du jn [in] der hant haben mügst zu pollieren, vnd lasz in dür werden, darnach nym ein linds locz, als eschen alber linden oder ander, vnd mach als ein linial, doch pasz dicker, vnd nym puluer von kesselprawn, vnd see es auff das hölczli, vnd pollier den zand als lang bisz er glat vnd vein glancz wirt als ein spiegel."


127. Vena: as in pencil hematite. (See n. I, p. 25, above.)

128. That tiglio actually means "structure" in the sense of "crystal structure" may be seen from the comment in Chapter XLII, already noted, that hematite has a tiglio like that of cinnabar. (See n. I, p. 25, above.)

129. Polvere di smeriglio: Mottez, Ilg, and Verkade translate this correctly; but Lady Herringham follows Mrs. Merrifield's romantic but inaccurate example in translating it "emerald dust." (Mrs. Merrifield's reading is "dust of emeralds.")

130. Here, as in Chapter XLII, it is possible that we should read for diamante, adamante, "adamant."

131. Modern leaf is considerably thinner than this. The Venetian ducat weighed fifty-four troy grains, so Cennino's best leaf weighed something like half a grain, and his thin leaf, about a third. The best trade leaf nowadays seldom weighs over a fifth of a grain, though most goldbeaters will furnish double-weight leaf without extra cost, and heavier gold can be procured from dealers in dentists' supplies.

Borghesi and Branchi, Nuovi documenti per la storia dell'arte Senese (Siena, 1898), p. 10, print the contract for Pietro Lorenzetti's Arezzo ancona, in which he agrees to use "the finest gold leaf, 100 leaves to a florin." The florin was equivalent to the ducat, so a leaf weighing half a grain, or thereabouts, may be considered the best fourteenth-century Italian standard. The size of the leaf does not seem to have been inflexibly determined; but from measurements made at Assisi, I judge that the leaves used by Pietro there were about 8.5 cm. square, almost exactly the size of the average modern leaf.

Precise comparisons are not possible, and I will not enter into a long discussion here. For the present purpose, it will be enough to say that our ordinary commercial leaf is good for mordant gilding; double-weight leaf would have suited Cennino for "moldings and foliage ornaments"; and for flats, quadruple gold is desirable, if it can be obtained. It should be observed, however, that perfect gilding can be done with thin leaf: the advantage of heavier leaf lies not in any inferiority of the effect produced but in the greater ease of manipulation and freedom from blemishes which require faulting.


132. Ritagliare. This corresponds exactly to the modern sign painters' expression "cut in," in the sense of establishing an outer edge. I find to my regret that this term is not generally understood, and suggests rather some such process of incision as described in Chapter CXXIII, p. 76, above. Lady Herringham misunderstood the Italian in this sense, translating it here, "indent." Verkade's translation, "beschneiden," is the best, for it cannot be misconstrued, yet does convey the idea of "cutting in" --figuratively --the sharp outline.

133. See n. 1, p. 85.

134. Literally, "stamp in relief." The process is made clear by what follows.

135. See p. 84, above.

136. This paragraph, not found in L, is supplied from R. (See I, 84, n. 1.) From this point on, neither of the basic MSS has any original chapter headings or numbers; the headings printed here in italics are of my own composing, introduced purely for the convenience of the reader. (See above, Preface, p. xviii.)

137. T., M., CXLI.

138. Carta: this might equally well mean paper, but practice will make it clear that parchment is intended. (See n. 1, p. 6, above.)

139. T., M., CXLII.

140. L'alacciato {laccio {Latin Laqueus "hole," "opening"} "net," "mesh." (See W. Meyer-Lübke, Romanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch [Heidelberg, 1911], 4909.) When a layer of color is "opened up" by scraping through to reveal the metal ground below it, the root meaning is sufficiently descriptive, and laccio is translated as "opening." When, however, the pattern is conceived figuratively as made of lacci in a uniform ground, or, as here, when ground and pattern are regarded as interchangeable, laccio and its derivatives must be translated in their secondary sense, as "pattern."

141. By "rosette" must be understood a stamping tool which produces a cluster of small points. In medieval gold stamping these are generally seen to be grouped on a rectangular surface. The number of points engraved on the rosette varied greatly, as did the size of the stamping surface. I hope that medieval stamping tools and their application will soon be made the objects of detailed study; for I believe that this aspect of technique offers a fertile field for critical investigation.

142. T., M., CXLIII.

143. Lacci. See n. 2, p. 87, above.

144. Granare arrilievo. See n. 3, p. 86, above.

145. Lacci. See n. 2, p. 87, above.

146. Si chome laccio in canpo. It is tempting to read: si in laccio come in campo: that is, "on the patttern as well as the ground." I strongly suspect that the finished product was intended to show a pattern of silver glazed with lac on a ground of vermilion also glazed with lac, and not, as the text suggests, a combination of vermilion and silver both with and without glazes; but I will not venture to modify the reading. R has laccio e campo: "such as pattern and ground."

147. Lacci: see n. 3, p. 87, above.

148. T., M., CXLIV.

149. Va' facciendo i peluzi; chome ista il velluto. Velvets were something of a rarity in fourteenth-century Italy, and figured velvets still more so. Some figured velvets were woven in Venice early in the fifteenth century, and Cennino doubtless saw examples of those or their imported prototypes during his residence in Padua. The phrase, chome ista il velluto, seems to point to a figured, that is, "voided," velvet.

In weaving velvet by hand, threads from one or more extra warps are formed into loops by the insertion of grooved rods into the weaving shed. In so-called "terry velvets" the rods are withdrawn and the loops left as such. In "cut velvets" a blade separates the loops of pile warp into vertical threads, seated in the ground of the fabric much as the hairs of a fur are seated in the skin. These cut loops are the peluzi, the "little hairs." Taken together they form the "pile" (Italian pelo: both this and the English term are descended from the Latin pilus, "a hair"; so probably also the late Latin villus }Italian velluto), but Cennino evidently intends that the velvet should be painted like a fur, to some extent hair by hair. Since that would be, of course, impossible, he amends his direction: effa' i pelucci grossetti--" and make the little hairs rather coarse."

Lady Herringham's translation, "Make the pile with thick paint," seems to me to miss the point, through confusion of the "pile" (pelo) with the "little hairs" (peluzzi) of which it is made up. This passage is cited by A. P. Laurie, op. cit., p. 41: "Shape the pile with thick paint." (In Dr. Laurie's quotation a typographical error should be corrected: for "a minever brush tempered with oil," read, "a minever brush and color tempered with oil.")


150. Tavola da guichare: this is a rather indefinite term at best, but we may understand it as a round piece, probably something like an inch in diameter. A "checker," or "draught," or even a "poker chip" is perhaps a little more graphic than Lady Herringham's literal translation, "play-tablet."

151. Panno o ver drappo di lana. See n. 3, p. 26, above.

152. Palia o ver viticha. Viticare is known only from this text. It has been regarded by Tambroni, the Milanesi, Tommaseo and others as synonymous with paliare, owing to the association of the terms here. Cennino's paliare, furthermore, has been identified with palliare "to cover" {Latin pallium "cloak," and understood as velare "to glaze." So Tambroni, Trattato, pp. 159, 160, defines both palliare and viticare by velare; Tommaseo, Dizionario, s.v. "palliare," suggests that the imperative vitica may be a scribal error for vernica or vernicia.

I do not believe that viticare is a by-form (by scribal error) of vernicare "to varnish," but that it represents an independent verb based on Latin viticula }Italian viticcio "tendril," or "spring"; the history of the derived Italian verb would then correspond almost exactly to the English "spring" (NED v2) as in the phrase, "sprigged muslin" (see NED, "sprigged," pple.).

In printing pallia for MSS palia, the Milanesi, and Simmi as well, have disguised the possibility that a verb paliare, elsewhere unrecorded, and distinct from palliare, might be intended. This I believe to be the case: that Cennino's paliare looks back, not to Latin pallium, but to latin palea "chaff" }Italian paglia "straw," and that the phrase palia o ver viticha means, accordingly, "make straw-like or tendril-like markings," hence, "hatch or sprig."

The context above demands some such explanation of both verbs.


153. We might venture to read: "O vo' campeggiare . . . e palia . . ." That is, "Or lay in with dark sinoper, and hatch with vermilion or with giallorino."

The punctuation of the text, I, 87, ll. 3, 4, should be modified as follows: "giallorino in muro, e in tavola, d'orpimento. O di verde . . ."


154. T., M., CXLV.

155. The height of elegance! See n. 2, p. 89, above.

156. MSS, "two." Perhaps the copyists' error; or perhaps the third "variation" was an afterthought of the author's

157. NED, s.v. "Lac"1 2. See n. 1, p. 26, above.

158. So R; L has, "that your jobs may touch . . ."

159. Sc., "As opposed to fresco."

160. T., M., CXLVI.

161. See n. 2, p. 37, above.

162. See Chapter LXII, p. 38, above.




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