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A: Colle di Val d'Elsa, Toscana, Italy

Description of Textile Printing and Manuscript Illumination as Well as Painting

Chromolithographed title page of the English translation of the treatise by Mrs. Merrifield (1844).

Chromolithographed title page of the English translation of the treatise by Mrs. Merrifield (1844).

Il Libro dell Arte, often translated as "The Craftsman's Handbook," by Italian painter Cennino d' Andrea Cennini of Colle Val d'Elsa, Tuscany

"is a "how to" on Renaissance art. It contains information on pigments, brushes, panel painting, the art of fresco, and techniques and tricks, including detailed instructions for underdrawing, underpainting and overpainting in egg tempera. Cennini also provides an early, if somewhat crude, discussion of painting in oils. His discussion of oil painting was important for dispelling the myth, propagated by Giorgio Vasari and Karel Van Mander, that oil painting was invented by Jan van Eyck (although Theophilus (Roger of Helmerhausen) clearly gives instructions for oil-based painting in his treatise, On Divers Arts, written in 1125)" (Wikipedia article on Cennino Cennini, accessed 01-26-2012).

Cennini's handbook includes a description of methods used by Europeans for textile printing.  The work was first published in print in Italian by Tambroni (Rome, 1821) from a codex dated July 31, 1437 discovered in the Vatican Library by the Italian cardinal and humanist Angelo Mai. It was first translated into English by Mrs. Merrifield and published (London, 1844) as A Treatise on Painting. . . .containing practical directions for painting in Fresco, Secco, Oil, and Distmper with the art of Gilding and Illuminating Manuscripts adopted by the Old Italian Masters. The first English translation contained an elaborately chromolithographed and gilt frontispiece emulating the design of medieval manuscripts.

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