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New Materials on the Renaissance Artists' Palette

  • Barbara H. Berrie (a1) and Louisa C. Matthew (a2)

Abstract

In the light of new documentary information regarding the range of materials available to sixteenth century artists, cross sections from paintings were re-examined using scanning electron microscopy - energy dispersive spectrometry. Among a variety of new materials, colored glassy pigments were found including diverse yellow glassy particles, specifically lead silicate and a glass colored by lead antimonate. These are the “yellow smalts” described in Renaissance writings on artists’ materials.

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References

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1. Kühn, H., in Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, vol. 2, edited by Roy, A. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1993), pp. 83112.
2. Mühlethaler, B. and Thissen, J., in Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, vol. 2, edited by Roy, A. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1993), pp. 113130.
3. Spring, M., in The Painting Technique of Pietro Vanucci, called Il Perugino, edited by Brunetti, B.G., Seccaroni, C., and Sgamellotti, A. (Kermesquaderni, Nardini, Florence) 2003, pp. 2128;
Martin, E. and Rioux, J. P., in The Painting Technique of Pietro Vanucci, called Il Perugino, edited by Brunetti, B.G., Seccaroni, C., and Sgamellotti, A. (Kermesquaderni, Nardini, Florence) 2003, pp. 4356;
Tucker, M., Passeri, I., Sutherland, K. and Price, B.A., in Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence, edited by Strehlke, C. (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2004), p. 46;
Spring, M. and Plazzotta, C., National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 25, 24 (2004).
4. Merrifield, M.P., Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting (Dover Reprint, Mineola, 1967).
5. Venturi, A., I due Dossi documenti, Prima Serie, Archivio Storica dell'Arte, 1892. p. 441
6. Part of this work was presented at the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium, March 19–21, 2003, National Academy of Sciences (forthcoming).
7. Merrett, C., The World's Most Famous Book on Glassmaking: The Art of Glass by Antonio Neri, (1612), 1662. Republished and edited by Cable, M. (The Society of Glass Technology, Sheffield, 2003).
8. Zecchin, L., Vetro e Vetrai in Murano, vols. 1–3, (Arsenale, Venice, 1987, 1989, 1990).
9. Booth, J.C. and Morfit, C., Encyclopedia of Chemistry, (Henry Carey Baird, Philadelphia, 1872), p. 760.
10. Piccolpasso, C., I tre libri dell'arte del vasaio, (1558) translated by Lightbrown, R.W. and Caiger-Smith, A. (Scolar Press, London, 1980) vols. 1 and 2. For recipes for yellow glazes that contain antimony see vol. 2 p. 6263.
11. Dunkerton, J., Penny, N., and Roy, A., National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 19, 5263, (1997).
12. Borghini, R., Il Riposo, vol. 1 (Milan, 1807), p. 244.
13. Piccolpasso, C., op. cit, vol. 2 p. 64;
Moretti, C. and Toninato, T., in Ricette vetrarie del Rinascimento, (Venice, Marsilio, 2001) p. 94.
14. Faidutti, M. and Versini, C., Le Manuscrit de Turquet de Mayerne, (Audin, Lyons, 1974) p. 102.
15. Matthew, L.C., The Burlington Magazine, No. 1196 vol. CXLIV, 680686, (2002).

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