Technika ściennych malowideł bizantyjsko-ruskich : cz. II : wykonywanie rysunku oraz przygotowywanie farb, i sposób ich nakładania
TECHNIQUES APPLIED IN THE BY Z ANTINE-RUTHENI AN PAINTINGS Part 2: EXECUTION OF DRAWINGS AND PREPARATION OF PAINTS AND THE MANNER OF THEIR LYING
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The next stage of work consisted in sketching by means of a brush on the carefully smoothed coating which the stage normally was started with-the nimbi contoured with aid of drawing compass and followed by line contouring of the whole figure. Both the Greek painter’s handbooks and Russian „Podlinniks” recommended to produce the preliminary drawing using ochre, however, it has been revealed as a result of careful examinations that the said preliminary drawings were also executed with red paints (e.g. iron oxide red, genuine vermilion) and in some cases with black paint. With the preliminary drawings completed as the following step the contours were incised in freshly laid coats this being a quite different method when compared with usual practice applied in the classical Italian frescoes where the preliminary drawing was impressed through the carboard „stencil”. The incising of contours in Byzantine-Ruthenian paintings constituted an additional operation, thus frequently enough no slightest traces of it can be found in completed works. According to information found in Greek ’’Hermeneyas” this operation was usually carried out with help of ”a bone having blunted point”, ”an iron spatula”, or ”a mosaic stone”. In ’’Podlinniks” are mentioned the knives as the tools used to the purpose. In paintings under discussion the synopy can be found only sporadically. On completion of preparatory drawing the paint layer was laid immediately on the fresh topping coat. This operation is especially stressed by all the sources in question, i. e. “Hermeneyas”, “Tiipik” by Nektariy and “Podlinniks”. When comparing prescriptions from written sources it can be found that some of them suggested to paint immediately while the others accepted the possibility to continue the work still on other day. There is no doubt, however, that the technique applied what regard's its essential features represented that typical for the fresco painting and the differences arose from varying conditions under which the work was executed. The Greek painter’s handbooks and “Tipik” by Nektariy make a distinction between the pigments used for painting of icons and those applied in mural paintings. The above and some other sources warn against the hasty use of vermilion which should be used exclusively for painting of interiors. The same sources give several ways for preparing the lime white whose characteristic feature should be its neutral taste. According to the above sources this paint was free from caustic lime and thus prevented the forming of crystalline calcium carbonate deposits on painted surfaces. In “Hermeneyas” may also be found prescriptions giving suggestions as to the way of preparing the colour mixtures, as for instance, “proplasme” (dark green colour) or flesh shade and “glyeasme” (being a combination of flesh shade .and “proplasme”)- Only six names of basic pigments are mentioned in “Tipik”. Nevertheless, in Ruthenian and Russian paintings about 40 types of pigments can be distinguished and among them also those representing the mixtures of two or more different pigments like “reft” (dark grey or grey-black colour) and “sankir” (dark greenish yellow hue). Results of examinations carried out on several paintings have proved that among most frequently used natural pigments were ochres in a variety of shades, the iron oxide red, raw umbra, earth, green, natural vermilion, azurite, ultramarine, malachite and lime white. Artificially produced were black from organic carbon (soot or burnt wood), smalt, minium and some shades based on copper compounds. Quite sporadically within the tempera palette were used colours coming from organic pigments and those based on lead compounds. As the other informations deserving attention in written sources should be quoted manners of preparing the brushes. According to “Hermeneyas” as materials for their manufacture were used the hairs from the ass mane, those from the beard of mule, but also goat and ox hairs. Brushes manufactured from the above materials were used to lay the flesh shades, to provide lighter tones and for modelling. To produce the ground paint layers (e.g. dark backgrounds) the bristle brushes were used. The Byzantine-Ruthenian mural paintings were built up by a method developed at production of icons. As mentioned in “Hermeneyas” the faces, after making preliminary drawing, were normally underpainted with proplasme (a colour .called “sankir” in Russia) Which in turn was lightened up by glyeasme. As the next step, a second lightening with the flesh shade was introduced. Using the same colour with the addition of white were modelled the light-coloured areas and those imitating relief. Bright spots were produced by means of pure white or white combined with ochre. In the meantime an exact drawing was produced. Rules concerning the grading of lightenings are also given in “Tipik” and “Podlinniks”. It should be pointed out, however, that the method of work carried on the step-by-step basis was subjected to various changes as a result of the time period, country, particular workshop traditions and so forth. The background of composition was covered with a mixture of black and white and in some cases with .an addition of a colour from the ochre group. This basic colour was called “reft” in Russia. On dark background was laid azure which was intended to imitate the sky blue. In some cases, however, instead of a dark ground an ochre tone was laid, which, .as the next step, was covered with gilt. For laying the azures forming dark backgrounds organic binders were used. The “Hermeneyas”, for example, recommended to apply the bran decoction, while ’’Tipik” that prepared of peeled barley mixed in 1 :1 proportion with the skin glue, at the same time giving a prescription for casein glue. In ’’Podlinniks”, apart from the wheat decoction are mentioned that made of linseed and egg tempera. It is extremely difficult to identify nowadays the organic binders since during many centuries they were exposed to destructive action of various microorganisms. At the same time, however, a notice should be made here that mural paintings, .and especially those painted with azure, in numerous cases were restored with the use of paints prepared with addition of different binders. In his treatise “Diversarum artium schaedula” the Monk Theophilus gives a wide range of suggestions similar to those contained in “Hermeneyas” and “Podlinniks” with respect to preparing and introducing the azure on dark backgrounds. The gilting of nimbi, stars and other decorative elements constituted the last step within the sequence of works. This final operation was carried out with the use of gold foil laid on the suitably prepared linseed oil film. As may be read in sources a great importance was attached to laying of gilt on sufficiently dried spots and areas. By so doing a possibility of saponification of linseed oil was considerably reduced. While summing up the above considerations a conclusion can be drawn that in artistic circles within the sphere of influences of Byzantine-Ruthenian cultural tradition a range of strictly defined technical methods was in common use. These methods and rules have taken their definite shape already during the first centuries of the courrent millenium and later on were only enriohened by some local experiences. It can therefore be stated that the technique .applied in producing of mural paintings may be considered as one substantially indentical with that of frescoes whereas the tempera painting as one of secondary importance. The most essential feature was the preparation of lime putties and mortars and also the making of topping coats. The production of a painting itself followed consequently according to the step-by-step process.
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