Thursday, March 17, 2011

40 Days of Artists: Cennini

Cennino Cennini was a 14th-15th century painter, but very little is known about any of his paintings. It's not his paintings that gave him a great name, but much like Vasari, it was a book that he wrote. Except this was not a book on the masters of art. It was a literal "how to" of art creation.

The book, Il Libro dell' Arte, can almost be described as a magician's handbook - giving some of the greatest secrets and techniques of its time on how to do drawings and paintings. Cennini went into everything - how to draw on panels, ink drawing, ink wash, how to make tracing paper, making gesso, making pigments, making paints, and how to paint with the paints you make. This is only a sampling of the items found in Cennini's handbook.

Some of the most fascinating bits of information found in his book are in the nature of pigments, and the making of these pigments. Today, making pigments according to these recipes has become a near-lost art in and of itself. However there are a few manufacturers of pigments that still work according to Cennini's instructions. Who would think that the making of paint would be such a fascinating art? See for yourself:

Cennino Cennini
Diptych Altarpiece
14th-15th century

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