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Descrivere la tradizione, codificare l’avanguardia: Cennino e la lavorazione dell’oro in tavola tra Trecento e Quattrocento

Emanuele Zappasodi


The text analyzes the technical procedures of the tooling of metal leaves in 14th- and 15th-century panel painting described in the Libro dell’arte by Cennino Cennini. This book gave significant importance to this specific aspect of painting. Following Cennino’s work, the article examines in detail a wide range of examples of mordant-gilding, water-gilding, and the different techniques of gold leaf tooling: from incision to punchmarks, from sgraffito to a disteso and a rilievo stippling. It is beyond doubt that the Libro dell’arte by Cennino Cennini, written in Padua at the beginning of the 15th century, codified a centuries-old technical tradition. Nevertheless, several passages on the tooling of metal leaves seem to reveal the knowledge, at an early stage, of the most innovative and modern experimentations in goldsmithing and Late Gothic painting in Europe and Italy between the 14th and 15th centuries.