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The Craftsman's Handbook

The Craftsman's Handbook

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by Cennino Cennini
     
 

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This is D. V. Thompson's definitive English translation of Il Libro dell'Arte, an intriguing guide to methods of painting, written in fifteenth-century Florence. Embodying the secrets and techniques of the great masters, it served as an art student's introduction to the ways of his craft.
Anyone who has ever looked at a medieval painting and marveled at

Overview

This is D. V. Thompson's definitive English translation of Il Libro dell'Arte, an intriguing guide to methods of painting, written in fifteenth-century Florence. Embodying the secrets and techniques of the great masters, it served as an art student's introduction to the ways of his craft.
Anyone who has ever looked at a medieval painting and marveled at the brilliance of color and quality of surface that have endured for 500 years should find this fascinating reading. It describes such lost arts as gilding stone, making mosaics of crushed eggshell, fashioning saints' diadems, coloring parchment, making goat glue, and regulating your life in the interests of decorum — which meant shunning women, the greatest cause of unsteady hands in artists. You are told how to make green drapery, black for monks' robes, trees and plants, oils, beards in fresco, and the proper proportions of a man's body. ("I will not tell you about the irrational animals because you will never discover any system of proportion in them.") So practical are the details that readers might be tempted to experiment with the methods given here for their own amusement and curiosity.
Today artists are no longer interested in specific directions on keeping miniver tails from becoming moth-eaten. The Craftsman's Handbook, in which these are ordinary parts of the artist's work, appears quaint and naïve to us. And that is much of its charm. But when we remember the magnificent mosaics, paintings, and frescoes these methods produced, the book takes on an even greater value as a touchstone to another age.
"Recommended to the student of art." — Craft Horizons.
"Obviously of great merit." — Art Material Trade News.
"Delightful flavor." — New York Herald Tribune.
Recommended in Harvard List of Great Books on Art, Shaw's List of Books for College Libraries.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780486200545
Publisher:
Dover Publications
Publication date:
06/01/1954
Series:
Dover Art Instruction Series
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
316,224
Product dimensions:
5.39(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.38(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Craftman's Handbook

THE ITALIAN "IL LIBRO DELL' ARTE"


By CENNINO D'ANDREA CENNINI, DANIEL V. THOMPSON JR.

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1960 Daniel V. Thompson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13662-2


CHAPTER 1

THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE FIRST SECTION OF THIS BOOK.


In the beginning, when Almighty God created heaven and earth, above all animals and foods he created man and woman in his own image, endowing them with every virtue. Then, because of the misfortune which fell upon Adam, through envy, from Lucifer, who by his malice and cunning beguiled him — or rather, Eve, and then Eve, Adam — into sin against the Lord's command: because of this, therefore, God became angry with Adam, and had him driven, him and his companion, forth out of Paradise, saying to them: 'Inasmuch as you have disobeyed the command which God gave you, by your struggles and exertions you shall carry on your lives.' And so Adam, recognizing the error which he had committed, after being so royally endowed by God as the source, beginning, and father of us all, realized theoretically that some means of living by labor had to be found. And so he started with the spade, and Eve, with spinning. Man afterward pursued many useful occupations, differing from each other; and some were, and are, more theoretical than others; they could not all be alike, since theory is the most worthy. Close to that, man pursued some related to the one which calls for a basis of that, coupled with skill of hand: and this is an occupation known as painting, which calls for imagination, and skill of hand, in order to discover things not seen, hiding themselves under the shadow of natural objects, and to fix them with the hand, presenting to plain sight what does not actually exist. And it justly deserves to be enthroned next to theory, and to be crowned with poetry. The justice lies in this: that the poet, with his theory, though he have but one, it makes him worthy, is free to compose and bind together, or not, as he pleases, according to his inclination. In the same way, the painter is given freedom to compose a figure, standing, seated, half-man, half-horse, as he pleases, according to his imagination. So then, either as a labor of love for all those who feel within them a desire to understand; or as a means of embellishing these fundamental theories with some jewel, that they may be set forth royally, without reserve; offering to these theories whatever little understanding God has granted me, as an unimportant practicing member of the profession of painting: I, Cennino, the son of Andrea Cennini of Colle di Val d'Elsa, — (I was trained in this profession for twelve years by my master, Agnolo di Taddeo of Florence; he learned this profession from Taddeo, his father; and his father was christened under Giotto, and was his follower for four-and-twenty years; and that Giotto changed the profession of painting from Greek back into Latin, and brought it up to date; and he had more finished craftsmanship than anyone has had since), — to minister to all those who wish to enter the profession, I will make note of what was taught me by the aforesaid Agnolo, my master, and of what I have tried out with my own hand; first invoking <the aid of> High Almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; then <of> that most delightful advocate of all sinners, Virgin Mary; and of Saint Luke, the Evangelist, the first Christian painter; and of my advocate, Saint Eustace; and, in general, of all the Saints of Paradise, AMEN.

CHAPTER 2

HOW SOME ENTER THE PROFESSION THROUGH LOFTINESS OF SPIRIT, AND SOME, FOR PROFIT. CHAPTER II


It is not without the impulse of a lofty spirit that some are moved to enter this profession, attractive to them through natural enthusiasm. Their intellect will take delight in drawing, provided their nature attracts them to it of themselves, without any master's guidance, out of loftiness of spirit. And then, through this delight, they come to want to find a master; and they bind themselves to him with respect for authority, undergoing an apprenticeship in order to achieve perfection in all this. There are those who pursue it, because of poverty and domestic need, for profit and enthusiasm for the profession too; but above all these are to be extolled the ones who enter the profession through a sense of enthusiasm and exaltation.

CHAPTER 3

FUNDAMENTAL PROVISIONS FOR ANYONE WHO ENTERS THIS PROFESSION. CHAPTER III


You, therefore, who with lofty spirit are fired with this ambition, and are about to enter the profession, begin by decking yourselves with this attire: Enthusiasm, Reverence, Obedience, and Constancy. And begin to submit yourself to the direction of a master for instruction as early as you can; and do not leave the master until you have to.

CHAPTER 4

HOW THE SCHEDULE SHOWS YOU INTO HOW MANY SECTIONS AND BRANCHES THE OCCUPATIONS ARE DIVIDED. CHAPTER IIII

The basis of the profession, the very beginning of all these manual operations, is drawing and painting. These two sections call for a knowledge of the following: how to work up or grind, how to apply size, to put on cloth, to gesso, to scrape the gessos and smooth them down, to model with gesso, to lay bole, to gild, to burnish; to temper, to lay in; to pounce, to scrape through, to stamp or punch; to mark out, to paint, to embellish, and to varnish, on panel or ancona. To work on a wall you have to wet down, to plaster, to true up, to smooth off, to draw, to paint in fresco. To carry to completion in secco: to temper, to embellish, to finish on the wall. And let this be the schedule of the aforesaid stages which I, with what little knowledge I have acquired, will expound, section by section.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Craftman's Handbook by CENNINO D'ANDREA CENNINI, DANIEL V. THOMPSON JR.. Copyright © 1960 Daniel V. Thompson. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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