The Foremost Medieval Treatise on Painting, Glassmaking, and Metalworkby Theophilus (translation and notes by John G. Hawthorne and Cyril Stanley Smith)
Why read a book on the arts from the 12th century -- even if it is the “foremost medieval treatise” on the subjects of painting, glassmaking and metalwork?
"On Divers Arts" is actually the earliest treatise on the arts written by a practicing artist. The book describes in detail pre-Renaissance gold and silver work, pigments, glass blowing and other crafts, including what may be the first mention of oil paints . If you’re practicing these crafts yourself, or if you are interested in the history of decorative art or the history of technology, this book has obvious appeal.
This Dover edition is a republication of the work originally published in 1963 by the University of Chicago Press. The book contains three sections: the first concerns painting and discusses painting techniques, paints and ink. The second section discusses stained glass, glassmaking and glass painting. The third section discusses gold and silver work. The book contains a lot of fascinating detail. Time for a comeback of this classic work!
While we don't do any of these activities, we find the book an enjoyable read. The text is 800 years old but so many of the crafts are unchanged, and the issues the craftspeople faced then are really the same as now. What stands out especially is materials preparation. We get hide glue from our store. The monks had to make their own from hide or horn or cheese! And they had to make just about everything other kind of material - paint, enamel, etc. - themselves, as well as the tools they'd need.
Softcover. 216 pages. With 45 illustrations. Printed in the USA.