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'First, Catch a Squirrel......' - Historical Materials and Techniques of Painting in the 15th – 18th Century

Study Day on Wednesday 10th March 2021 at 10:00AM

Lecturer: Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe
Venue: Bishopswood Village Hall

Lecture 1:

In the 14th century, the artist Cennino Cennini recommended using “the chicken bones that you will find under the dining table” for making charcoaled bone black. His treatise, The Artists’ Handbook, gives us an understanding of some of the surprising materials which any artist had to master before he could begin to paint, such as using the tail of a squirrel to make his paintbrushes. This talk will take us through the physical side of making a painting and will also explain how the difficulty in using many of these materials has affected the finished look of paintings, making them sometimes seem odd to our modern eyes.

Lecture 2:

Of all the aspects of producing a painting, finding substances in the natural world which could be used for colour was the most difficult. This talk will examine the ingenious and often laborious ways in which artists managed to create the colours they needed. Chantal will bring samples of the pigments discussed for you to look at during the talk.

Lecture 3:

Why does it matter? The first two talks will have looked at a number of physical aspects of how paintings were made, but does understanding these facts add up to anything more exciting still? This talk will take us into the realm of connoisseurship, and of using the understanding of materials to help us determine a date and a place of production for a painting – and possibly even to identify the artist.

Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe has 40 years experience as a lecturer. She has taught at Sotheby's Institute of Art on the MA in Fine and Decorative Arts since 1989. She has been a freelance lecturer for a number of societies in London, Italy and America. Having also trained as a paintings conservator, she brings an understanding of the making and the physical painting to her study days.

Cost: £37 including tea/coffee and lunch

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