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Mediaeval Painters' Materials and Techniques: The Montpellier Liber diversarum arcium

The anonymous Montpellier Liber diversarum arcium ('Book of Various Arts') contains the most complete set of instructions in the craft of medieval painting to have survived to the present day. Its comprehensive summary of the state of the art of painting in the workshops of the fourteenth century will be of great interest to art historians, conservators and historians of artists' technology.


This long-overlooked manuscript provides a complete practical painting course: drawing, water-based tempera, oil and fresco. It includes painting on manuscripts, panels, sculptures and walls, but also painting on glass and ceramics. Instructions are given for the preparation of materials such as pigments and media, and also for their application and modelling, as well as for gilding and other useful techniques.

The range of knowledge displayed is remarkable with nearly six hundred recipes, two-thirds of which are unique to this manuscript. Furthermore it demonstrates that when the van Eycks and their contemporaries transformed painting in the fifteenth century, they did so using materials and techniques of oil painting that already existed.

This volume contains the first ever published translation of the Liber diversarum arcium together with an extensive technical and historical commentary.

Mark Clarke
Mediaeval Painters' Materials and Techniques: The Montpellier Liber diversarum arcium
London: Archetype Publications Ltd (2011)
ISBN 9781904982647
UK Price: £ 45.00, US Price: $90.00.

Order a copy: orders@archetype.co.uk


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Last updated 30 January 2017       Mark Clarke       http://www.clericus.org/LDA.htm