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First, Catch a Squirrel

by Chantal Brotherton Ratcliffe

Monday 12 September 2022

The 14th century artist Cennino Cennini recommended using “the chicken bones that you will find under the dining table” for making charcoaled bone black to paint with. 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 the tail of a squirrel to make his paintbrushes. But many of these materials were difficult to use and had an effect on the finished look of paintings from the centuries before industrial processes changed the artist’s world. Chantal will explain the techniques and the reasons for some of the features of 15th and 16th century paintings which may seem odd to our modern eyes. She will bring examples of the materials mentioned in the talk for us to handle.


Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe has become a regular guest to London Art and More, both in real life and virtually. She has an MA in History of Art from Edinburgh, and a PhD from the Warburg Institute, London University. With 40 years' experience as a lecturer, Chantal has taught at Sotheby's Institute of Art on the MA in Fine and Decorative Arts since 1989, and as 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 lectures.

12 Sept 22 Chantal: About
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