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

163. See n. 1, p. 35, above.

164. Drapparli.

165. D'una porpora. Porpora may mean "purple," as I have translated it, conservatively; it may also mean "a pourpoint"; and it may even apply to the golden ornamentation of the drapery which Cennino goes on to describe (cf. porporina, p. 101, below).

166. Drappeggiallo.

167. T., M., CXLVII.

168. I dossi. Literally, "the backs," as translated on p. 92, above. It is very tempting to interpret i dossi as "reflected lights," as Lady Herringham occasionally does; but that would imply a degree of sophistication in the treatment of light and shade which Cennino probably did not possess.

169. Peluzo: literally, "little hair." See n. 2, p. 89, above.

170. T., M., CXLVIII.

171. T., M., CXLIX.

172. T., M., CL.

173. T., M., CLI.

174. Perhaps read sentare with L: "Endeavor to learn more about doing them"; but I think that the reading of R, stentare, is to be preferred.

175. So R. L has, si bene che, which suggests that something which followed was omitted: ". . . you cannot use it so well as when it is good and thin"; or, ". . . you cannot use it so well because the heavier the leaf the more likely it is to leave a ragged edge, or to refuse entirely to stick to the very fine lines of the ornament"; or something of that sort.

176. T., M., CLII.

177. T., M., CLIII.

178. The punctuation of the Italian text, I, 93, l. 28, should be changed to: lavorare et per lo sopradetto modo. Passando . . .

179. T., M., CLIV.

180. T., M., CLV.

181. Included in T., M., CLV.

182. T., M., CLVI.

183. That is, soon after it is painted.

184. T., M., CLVII.

185. See NED, v. 1.

186. See n. 2, p. 25, above. Both the curved and pointed crook and the straight-edged burnishing stone are useful for gilding on parchment: the former, for getting into the angle of the relief, the latter, for burnishing flat over the surface.

187. Italian text, I, 96, l. 9, read: "e {tiens} socto. . . ."

188. T., M., CLVIII.

189. Sc., as usual, "two parts."

190. T., M., CLIX. The color which Cennino calls porporina is more commonly known in medieval writings as oro musivo {Latin aurum musaicum, or a. musicum }French, or mussif. For the translation "mosaic gold," see NED, v. 2. That this is the modern trade equivalent may be seen from the rule for "Mosaic gold" in The Scientific American Cyclopedia of Formulas (New York: Munn & Co., 1928), pp. 624, 625. An attempt was made by A. Ilg, in his elaborate "Untersuchung über die ursprüngliche Bedeutung des Wortes 'Mosaik,'" in Mitteilungen des k.k. Oesterreichischen Museums für Kunst und Industrie, N.F., V (1890), 161 ff., reprinted in his Beitraäge zur Geschichte der Kunst und der Kunsttechnik aus mittelhochdeutschen Dichtungen (Vienna, 1896), "Excurs," pp. 168-187, to solve the mystery of the name; but the manufacture, use, and nomenclature of this pigment must receive much further study.

191. Biffo: a mixture of lac and blue. See Chapter LXXIII, p. 52, above.

192. T., M., CLX. (T., CLX, is made up of this chapter coupled with another, M., CLXXVIII. See I, 97, n. 1.)

193. M., CLXI. From here on, as far as "well washed and squeezed out," p. 105, below, R is the only source for the text. As R was not consulted by Tambroni, these chapters do not appear in his edition, or in translations made from it. (See my edition of the Italian text, I, 97, n. 1. An edition of Victor Mottez' translation was issued with this material added by M. Henry Mottez: Le livre de l'art . . . [Paris, 1911].)

194. M., CLXII.

195. Zendado.

196. Sc., perhaps, "cloth has to be gilded, and most people do not know how it should be."

197. M., CLXIII.

198. M., CLXIV.

199. L begins again at this point. See n. 3, p. 102, above.

200. Designs for gros-point embroidery are still worked out in this way on coarse, open-grain canvas, with the colors as even and well blended as on the fine canvas used as a foundation for petit-point.

201. M., CLXV.

202. Charboni: literally, "coals."

203. Cioe all'avenante. The Milanesi follow R, and read: Ciò è a lavorare; but all'avenante, with L, should be preferred. Avenante (modern Italian, avvenente) means "neat," "sightly"; and makes clear an important point in Cennino's procedure. When both sides of a cloth are to be decorated, the drawing is worked out first on the "wrong" side, and traced through to the "neat" side, the avenante, the "right" side, all uncertainty being thus eliminated from its execution.

204. M., CLXVI.

205. Pelo. See n. 2, p. 89, above.

206. Another practice for gilding on velvet may be noted here, though I have no evidence as to its antiquity. Finely powdered gamboge may be dusted over the velvet, a leaf of gold applied, and the elements of the pattern pressed in with metal dies sufficiently heated to fuse the resin, much as leather is gilded with albumen. This is in many ways superior to Cennino's process, when gold alone is to be applied. If both gilding and painting are called for, however, the velvet should be prepared uniformly for both, as Cennino describes.

207. M., CLXVII.

208. Charbone. See n. 2, p. 106, above.

209. Pelo. See n. 2, p. 89, above. Here probably the "nap" which results from shearing, rather than "pile" proper.

210. M., CLXVIII.

211. M., CLXIX.

212. This material cannot yet be identified certainly. A. Ilg, Das Buch von der Kunst (Vienna, 1871), p. 177, suggests "die sogenannten Exkerdoppen," known also as "Valonia, welcher aus Ciefalonia erkürzt scheint."

213. See Chapter CXVIIII, p. 73, above.

214. M., CLXX.

215. It is the ingenious method which follows here, rather than the mere substitution of ashes for gesso, that makes these caskets less costly. Tin, white or golden, takes the place of silver or gold, and its use obviates the necessity of putting on a fine gesso surface, and permits the omission of several operations required for the application of leaf metal.

216. M., CLXXI.

217. See p. 87, above.

218. M., CLXXII.

219. See Chapter CXXXVIIII, pp. 84, 85, above.

220. Included in M., CLXXII.

221. Included in M., CLXXII.

222. Included in M., CLXXII.

223. Included in M., CLXXII.

224. In this system of modelng, the lights are formed uniformly by the gold; the darks, by the backing-up color; and the half tones, as Cennino implies in the paragraph on drawing, by lines of gold left to glisten on the colored ground. The survival of this practice, in window lettering, mirror ornaments, etc., is familiar to everyone. Indeed, few processes in the arts have a longer history of usefulness than this of gilding on glass and scratching in designs.

225. Included in M., CLXXII. Part of the text is clearly missing here: how much, or of what nature, we can only surmise.

The directions which follow suggest that a number of small objects were involved, requiring care to keep the surface flat. This is borne out by the next paragraph, which recommends stained cuttings of quills "for this same work"; and the next, which calls for crushed eggshells, "per lavorare del detto musaicho," suggests that these small objects may have been tesserae for mosaic. A little later, Cennino speaks of laying in with gilded or silvered paper, or gold or silver foil, "to lay in these figures as you do on a wall"; from which we may conclude that the Libro dell'Arte originally dealt with monumental mosaic and the use of gilded tesserae. Altogether the internal evidence of these passages points to the loss of a section on mosaic techniques to which the brief articles here preserved were merely supplementary. Externally, Vasari, in his life of Agnolo Gaddi, states that Cennino's work included an account of painting in mosaic.

The occurrence of these isolated sentences on mosaic at the end of the chapters on gilded glass deceived the Milanesi. Not recognizing their fragmentary nature, they identified them with the preceding material, and headed their chapter, CLXXII,"Come si lavora in opera musaica per adornamento di reliquie. . . ." This error--for the work on gilded glass is nowhere called "mosaic" by Cennino--later misled Albert Ilg, in spite of his own close acquaintance with Cennino's work. Ilg saw, as he supposed, in that chapter, but actually only in the Milanesi's heading, support for his theory that the word "mosaic" "a priori mit unserem heutigen Begriff 'Mosaik' (Zusammensetzung) gar nichts zu tun hatte, sondern lediglich jene eigentümliche Art Vergoldung bedutete, welche zur Herstsellung der kunstgeschichtlich wichtigsten Gattung Mosaiken erforderlich ist, wie sie vorher schon zur Anfertigung der altchristlichen Glasgefässe diente." (See his "Untersuchung über . . . 'Mosaik,'" art. cit. p. 101, supra, p. 174.) He states further (id., p. 178), with unconscious irony, that "Cennino . . . nennt opera musaica höchst interessanter Weise eine Technik, welche mit unserem 'Mosaik' ausser der Anbringung des Goldes auf's Glas absolut nichts gemein hat." It was, as we have seen, the Milanesi, and not Cennino at all, who called this process "opera musaica."

226. Included in M., CLXXII.

227. In one of the missing chapters, of course.

228. Included in M., CLXXII.

229. See the end of Chapter XXXVI, p. 22, above.

230. This whole paragraph evidently represents a mere variant of a process previously given in detail in a lost chapter.

231. Included in M., CLXXII.

232. See n. 1, 114, above.

233. Sc., "or silver."

234. Included in M., CLXXII.

235. M., CLXXIII.

236. Their elders, no doubt, wore stuffs in which the figures were integrally woven. The process here described is clearly intended to produce imitations of damask or brocade effects, as could be done by block printing at vastly less expense than on the loom.

237. Possibly, "varnish enough to make it workable."

238. Va' imbrattando: literally, "muck."

239. Vermiglio. See n. 6, p. 39, above.

240. For MS al predetto (my Italian text, I, 111, l. 10) read il predetto.

241. Chi ne piglia, se n'a.

242. M., CLXXIV.

243. From here to "You will run into people," p. 122, below, the text is based on R only, owing to a lacuna in L. See my Italian text, I, 112, n. 5; also, I, Preface, p. xii, and p. 100, n. 5. (I, 112, l. 26 should be punctuated as follows: insieme; e, ben chaldo, habbi. . . .)

244. Gesso sottile o vuoi da oro. Gesso d'oro signifies in modern Italian "gilders' whiting," a fine grade of levigated chalk. (See F. W. Weber, Artists' Pigments . . . [New York: van Nostrand, 1923], pp. 125, 126.) Gesso da oro here may mean the same material, a substitute for the more costly gesso sottile.

245. M., CLXXV.

246. Included in M., CLXXV.

247. Included in M., CLXXV.

248. Calcina di galla is simply slaked lime, not, as Ilg translates, "mit Galläpfeln bereiteten Kalk." Lady Herringham's "lime prepared with gall nuts" follows Ilg; Mottez and Verkade translate it correctly. See Vocabolario . . . della Crusca, s.v. "calcina."

249. M., CLXXVI.

250. Imbratta: literally, "muck."

251. Included in M., CLXXVI.

252. M., CLXXVII.

253. M. CLXXVIII; included in T., CLX.

254. The text is resumed in L again at this point. See n. 2, p. 118, above.

255. T., CLXI; M., CLXXIX.

256. Remola o ver cruscha. Remola is found only in L, and is introduced into the Vocabolario . . . della Crusca on the strength of this solitary occurrence. Dr. L. F. Solano, of Harvard University, suggests that remola is merely a slip of the pen for semola, and I have no doubt that this is the true explanation.

257. T., CLXII; M., CLXXX.

258. Cennino married a lady of Cittadella, near Padua, Donna Ricca della Ricca by name, some time before 1398. (See the Milanesi edition, Preface, p. vi.)

259. T., CLXIII; M., CLXXXI.

260. T., CLXIV; M., CLXXXII.

261. That is, across the forehead. To make clear the somewhat awkward description of this process, my colleague, Lewis E. York, has kindly executed the accompanying drawing.

262. Experimental investigation of this passage with Mr. York leads me to read da for da' in the Italian text, I, 117, l. 27, and a' bottoni for a bottoni, in l. 28.

263. T., CLXV; M., CLXXXIII.

264. T., CLXVI, and M., CLXXXIV, begin with the "After this" at the end of the preceding paragraph. I follow here the division marked in the MSS. (See my text I, 118, n. 2.)

265. Literally, "of Bologna or Volterra." See n. 1, p. 70, above.

266. Asciutto e seccho. See also Italian text, I, 111, l. 17.

267. Included in T., CLVI; M., CLXXXIV.

268. Some instruction seems to have been lost here, probably through confusion by the scribe of two sentences beginning E[s]se. What is missing may be advice on repairing the nose if it does get broken. Both scribes seem to have had a good deal of trouble with this chapter.

269. T., CLXVII; M., CLXXXV.

270. R: "fit together, or rather, come apart."

271. Or "paten" (piastra).


273. The punctuation of this sentence here differs slightly from that used in the Italian text, I, 121, l. 18.

274. L, ciera; R, cera: I think in error for crea, i.e., creta, "clay." See Italian text I, 121, n. 2; and n. 1, p. 77, above.

275. This direction, coupled with intrisa, "wet up," above, makes it sufficiently clear that clay rather than wax was intended as the molding material.


277. See n. 3, p. 129, above.

278. So R; L has ciera. I think erroneously.

279. Literally, "with oil for eating or for burning." See n. 2, p. 77, above.


281. R, terra; L, ciera.

282. T., CLXXI; M., CLXXXIX.

283. The verse which follows in R may be rendered in English in some such way as this:

	                             Praise be to God and

to Holy Mary

If you with God's will once your will unite If want constrains you, if you suffer loss,
Your every deepest longing will come right. Seek balm from Christ, by mounting on the cross.

After Referamus gratia Christi, the scribe of L adds the date, 31 July, 1437, and the words "Ex Stincharum, ecc." The transcription of that manuscript, to which alone the date applies, was probably carried out in the Florentine debtors' prison, the "Stinche."



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].