Notebook, 1993-

Eastlake's Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters

Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock [One-time President of the Royal Academy], Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters [Formerly titled: Materials for a History of Oil Painting]. Vol. One. New York; Dover Publications, Inc. 1960 [Originally published by Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans in 1847]

Professional Essays - Bellini Thinned his Vehicle with Linseed Oil

If Bellini used the amber varnish, [or its substitute, "vernice liquida"] with the colours, as this is apt to clog them, it is quite reasonable to suppose that he would, like painters now using the same material, dilute the pigments, so thickened, with oil. Hence the story of Ridolfi, though told with another and a mistaken view--viz, in the belief that oil was only then recently introduced in painting--may, after all, be a true tradition.

It is to be remembered that, with the early oil painters, essential oils had no place together with fixed-oil varnishes; the two might be used separtely--the essential oils were perhaps used by Leonardo da Vinci in his solid preparations, but never to thin the oil varnishes. Their diluent was necessarily a fixed oil.

Ridolfi's account of Schiavone's preparing his tints some days before they were used, is interesting, and agrees with the fat, cloggy look of his colour. His touch seems brisk by dint of force and firm brushes. It is, however, not impossible that he may have used amber varnish, or its equivalent, in the manner of Correggio, only without blending the tints. He studied and used the designs of Parmigianino, and hence a possible connection with a Correggiesque practice.

It is very probable from the appearance of Baroccio's surface and handling, that he used the amber varnish.

The circumstance of Gentileschi, at a later period, inheriting this practice may be traced to a connection with the schools of Parma. [pp. 358-359]



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