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Cennino Cennini

(c. 1370—1440)


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(b Colle di Val d'Elsa, nr. Siena, c.1370; d Florence, c.1440).

Florentine painter and writer. None of his paintings has survived, but he is remembered as the author of Il libro dell'arte, written in about 1400, the most important source concerning artistic practice in the late Middle Ages. Cennini states in the book that he was a pupil of Agnolo Gaddi, who learnt from his father Taddeo Gaddi, who in turn was a pupil of Giotto, so his detailed descriptions of tempera and fresco painting no doubt reflect, even if at several removes, the technical procedures of the founder of the great tradition of Florentine painting. Although the book is mentioned by Vasari, the surviving manuscripts were long forgotten and the text was not printed until 1821. The standard English translation, by Daniel V. Thompson Jr., is entitled The Craftsman's Handbook (1933); it supersedes two 19th-century translations (1844 and 1899).

Subjects: Art.


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