‘A Practical Guide to the Production of Black Pigments, 1350-1700’ is an open access resource which stands in the tradition of the first printed dyers’ manuals that were advertised as works ‘for the public benefit’ revealing the art of colouring textiles to each and everyone who wished to learn or perfect their dyeing skills’.[1] While preparing my critical contribution to this collection, ‘Black Colour Technologies for Burgundian Dyers, 1350-1700’, my collaborator Jenny Boulboullé and I realized that the historical sources that I had consulted gave a truly surprising account of a varied abundance of raw materials used to prepare black watercolours. We learned about medieval bee-keepers, expensive frankincense that came all the way from the Arabian Peninsula and India, cheap soot scraped off the walls of kitchen hearths, and much more. In light of this surprising abundance, we felt that this information should be accessible to a wider audience and we decided to create a little book-within-a-book as an addendum to  Burgundian Black. This born-digital manual shares the secrets of black illumination compiled from historic sources. We re-imagined it so to speak as a ‘lost’ source of the rich black colour knowledge of medieval illuminators, which has never been written down, or has not otherwise survived the ravages of time.

‘A Practical Guide to the Production of Black Pigments, 1350-1700’ is comprised of information I have found in historic treatises for black watercolouring, written by and for illuminators and limners, covering a period of 350 years (1350-1700). Remarkably, these sources revealed an unexpected number of 50 black pigments. To allow for a fast orientation, these pigments were sorted into seven classes. Claiming completeness is not the aim here, since the scope of this project is centered around Burgundy. While the pigments are the same for illuminators and for artists painting in tempera or oil, it might be worth mentioning that historically the preparation of pigments and the preparation of watercolour paint were two separate steps. This is different from the preparation of oil colours, where the pigment is ground and the paint is prepared at the same time. Traditional tools and technologies for the production of black watercolour paints are explained in order to provide a basis for practical experiments.

We carried out many reconstructions over the course of a year to better understand historic sources on black pigment technologies.[2],[3] The outcomes are presented as short ‘how-to’ reconstruction manuals, including references to the historic recipes and visual documentation of our reconstruction experiments and lessons learned. I am thankful to all the students and colleagues, especially those of the Universities of Antwerp and Amsterdam, who shared their knowledge and enthusiasm in order to bring medieval technologies to life again. Digital availability of sources was crucial for this study and it is a great and invaluable benefit that more and more institutes are willing to provide access to their digital repositories for scientific research. My friend and colleague Jenny Boulboullé is the initiator of ‘A Practical Guide to the Production of Black Pigments, 1350-1700’ for which I am deeply grateful. It is our desire to inspire anyone who wishes to learn the medieval way of preparing black watercolours.

We would like to thank the ARTECHNE project, led by Sven Dupré and funded by the European Research Council, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the publishers of EMC imprint for making it possible to publish this open access resource.



Class 1: Soot
Lamp oil
Animal fat/tallow

Class 2: Chars
Vine lees and pomace
Animal origin

Class 3: Burnt substances
Vine twigs

Class 4: Geological raw materials

Class 5: Metal-related materials
Bronze-cast black
Black copper vitreous pigment

Class 6: Black inks and dyes
Soot-based inks
Indian inks
Iron-gall inks
Ink mixtures

Class 7: Mummies


Of your grinding stone and muller: preparing your pigment
Of Gum waters used in limning: preparing your binding medium
Gum Arabic
Parchment glue
Egg glair
Egg yolk
Of additives
Of tempering your colours: preparing your watercolour



The surprising abundance of raw materials for black pigments found in 50 historic sources covering a period of about 350 years (1350-1700) required the establishment of a classification system. Based on the raw materials used, seven classes of black pigments for watercolours were identified. The classes are further divided in sub-classes ( Fig. 2).

The following seven sections discuss each class of black pigments that were either mentioned in textual sources for illuminators and limners, or were identified on miniature illuminations. Each of the seven classes is first introduced by a general description of the preparation principle. This is followed by an explanation of the origin of every raw material with a focus on the availability in regions under Burgundian-Habsburg reign. A source-based description of the preparation of the related black pigment is provided. At the end of each class, the corresponding historic sources are presented in chronological schemes to allow for quick orientation. If available, reconstructions of historic recipes are included as ‘how to’ reconstruction manuals, containing ‘lessons learnt’.

Tab. 1a: Soot. Raw materials for black watercolour pigments in chronological order according to sources from 1350-1500. Empty columns list potentially available materials

Tab. 1b: Soot. References to black watercolour pigments in chronological order. Black: Fourteenth-fifteenth century, dark grey: Sixteenth century, light grey: Seventeenth century

Soot is the reaction product of incomplete combustion (burning) of organic, carbonaceous materials. Many carbohydrates, like for instance wood or fat, burn easily. They act as fuel. The following five groups of raw materials comprise the major sources of soot in pigment production: (1) beeswax, (2) oil, (3) tallow, (4) wood and (5) resins.
In the presence of oxygen (air) and an external source that provides sufficient energy to start igniting (e.g., tinder, match, lighter), a flame is created. As soon as the process is self-supporting, the fuel is thermally decomposed and forms a variety of gaseous reaction products which further react and finally form the ultimate end products of combustion: water and carbon dioxide. During this process, energy is released as heat and light. The orange-yellow light in the upper part of a flame indicates that the organic material, e.g., candle wax or wood, is in the process of burning. The colour is induced by an intermediate product, soot, consisting of pure carbon particles.[4] These particles anneal and therefore remain visible in the flame. If the burning process is interrupted in precisely that state (incomplete combustion), for instance by introducing a metal spoon into the orange-yellow part of a candle flame, or by placing a fire-proof bowl close above the flame, soot deposits on the cold surface (Fig. 3). This process is many times described in historic sources to produce black soot pigments. The cold surface should be very smooth, otherwise the fine soot particles are difficult to remove after cooling when the soot is collected by sweeping it off with a feather or by brushing. Large-scale production of so-called lampblackthat started with the increasing demand for printing ink from the sixteenth century onwards used a specific technique. To achieve a maximum yield, it combined a low burning fire of resin-rich wood parts with a horizontal chimney to create a fractioned precipitation of soot particles in a special chamber. This allowed for separating soot qualities, ranging from the most expensive pure, deep black soot to cheap and impure products.
Soot has the advantage that the particles are already so extremely fine that they do not require additional grinding, in contrast to most other raw materials. Soot particles are very light and float on the surface of water, where they form clusters. They are static and do not easily disperse in water. Preparation of a good-quality soot-based watercolour or ink requires a binding medium that enables homogeneous dispersion. Thorough dispersing through mixing the binding media with the soot provides the best quality. This is usually done with a muller on a stone.[5]
Depending on several factors, often not only soot particles, but other volatile by-products, especially tar-related products, as well as inorganic ashes precipitate together with the soot. If tar-related impurities are present, the colour of the final product tends towards brown shades rather than black. While pure soot consists of pure carbon which is ambiguous for identification of its origin, contaminations might provide evidence to infer the raw material used to produce the soot. The interaction with aqueous media can be negatively influenced due to the hydrophobic nature of many tars. These impurities could be removed by washing in solvents or by applying a subsequent burning step, as elaborately tested by Lewis.[6]

Soot of beeswax Fig. 4a, 4b, 4c / Quote 1 & Recipe 1 / Reconstruction 1

“Fumus est color niger, si cum ab igne candele sepi vel cere, vel a lampadis lumine exit, colligatur, qui aliter fuscus, et aliter fuligo nominatur.”[7]

Collecting soot from beeswax candles for preparation of black pigment is advised by the anonymous, late fourteenth-century author of De Arte Illuminandi[8]. While it is probably easily available to the modern reader, wax from bees was a precious product during the middle ages. Cera vergine, beeswax, was a relatively scarce product in Europe, centuries-long reserved for church and court.[9] Apiculture was not yet broadly established and limited to monastic and local bee-keepers. They could not cope with the rather extensive consumption of candles for liturgical and representative purposes, since one bee hive only produces about 0.6kg of beeswax annually.[10] In central Europe, beeswax was an imported product, traded from Russia through the Hanseatic League, and from countries around the Black Sea, the Balkans and North Africa via Italian and Spanish merchants, who shipped it to the harbors of Bruges, amongst other destinations.[11]It was a display of wealth and power of the citizens of Bruges, that beeswax-candle bearers always preceded the procession when the Duke of Burgundy entered or left their city.[12] Beeswax was not only used for candles, but also for wax seals and for bronze casting.
It was available via local sellers. Bees-wax was regularly purchased for artistic purposes by the Burgundian court. The ducal records are a rich source of information regarding trade of artists’ materials, including beeswax, in the Burgundian dukedom. In 1385 for instance, four pounds of wax were acquired from Guiot Poissonnier, espicier in Dijon, for artistic purposes.[13] With a modal price of 48 deniers per pound, wax was much cheaper than the most precious pigment, ultramarine (30720 deniers/pound), the expensive vermillion (160 deniers/pound), and even cheaper than a good-quality lead white (80 deniers/pound). [14] One record is especially interesting, since it tells of the purpose of the purchase: in April 1399, 10 pounds of wax candles were bought from Perrenot Berbisey, a merchant in Dijon. They were designated for the court painter Jean Malouel, then also situated in Dijon, to allow him to work by night.[15] Obviously, beeswax was available to artists in Valois Burgundy, and even for non-clerical applications.
Besides allowing nocturnal artistic work, beeswax might indeed have served as a source for obtaining smaller quantities of black pigment, especially in the monastic scriptoria, which had their own beekeeping. Le Begue (1431) distinguishes the soot of candles from wax and tallow under the lemma Fumus as quoted. Producing soot from beeswax candles is associated with some unexpected challenges that only become apparent during reconstruction.

Soot of animal fat/tallow Fig. 5a, 5b, 5c /  Quote 2 / Recipe 2
“Fumus est color niger, si cum ab igne candele sepi vel cere, vel a lampadis lumine exit, colligatur, qui aliter fuscus, et aliter fuligo nominatur.”[16]

The cheaper version of wax candles were candles made from tallow. For centuries, tallow candles and oil lamps constituted transportable sources of light, affordable even for common people. They were notorious for their unpleasant smell. Specific tallow-chandlers guilds were formed in European cities from the thirteenth century onwards, for instance, The Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers which was established in London around 1300. [17] Tallow candles were sold by candle merchants but could also be easily made at home.
The tallow is prepared by heating pieces of animal fat like beef- or mutton tallow, goat fat or suet for several hours, until they are fully melted. The resulting liquid is strained through a sieve to remove impurities. Liquid tallow could be filled in a fireproof bowl containing a wick made from tow or waste yarn, and would congeal at room temperature.[18] Another method was to dip a wick repeatedly into the warm, liquid tallow, building up the candle to the size and thickness wanted.
It is strange that, despite their widespread use, just a few recipes refer to tallow candles. Le Begue (1431) specifies soot from tallow candles from that of wax candles under the lemma fumus in his table of synonyms at the commencement of his manuscript.[19] A fifteenth-century German recipe refers to lights made from Unschlitt (tallow), but not for soot production, but only as a source of heat to melt frankincense to obtain soot.[20]

Soot of oil lamps Fig. 6a, 6b, 6c Quote 3 / Recipe 3
“Another black is made in this manner: take a lamp full of linseed oil, light the lamp and put it under a clean baking-dish, so that the flame of the lamp shall be about the distance of two or three fingers from the dish, and the smoke which comes from the flame shall strike against the dish; collect the smoke together; wait a little; take the baking dish, and sweep off
the smoke (which is the pigment) into paper, or into some vessel; it does not require grinding, because it is already a very fine powder. Thus you may continue to fill the lamp with the oil, put it under the dish, and make in this manner as much color as you require.”[21]
Black soot pigment could also be produced from an ordinary oil lamp. Oil lamps were filled with locally available oil, even rancid oil served well. A representative description of a soot preparation process from linseed oil is included in Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte and cited here.
Oil of hemp or beetroots for making a black watercolour which also served as drawing ink were mentioned in the South German Liber illuministrarum, a late medieval manuscript from Tegernsee monastery.[22]
Ink makers from Eastern Asia still practice their craft of producing soot from vegetable oils for calligraphic inks. They choose specific types of oil to produce distinct shades of black. Krünitz in 1820 provides a description of the process: to produce soot on a larger scale, the Chinese have purpose-built houses that are divided into small chambers. Each chamber contains numerous burning lamps of one type of oil which are maintained from early morning until late at night. The oil lamps are covered, and the soot is collected regularly, similar to the European method.[23]

Soot of wood (Fig. 7a, 7b)
Wood-burning fires are the most ancient source of heat and light. Soot precipitates on hearth walls, in chimneys and on cauldrons and originates usually of various sorts of wood. Depending on the circumstances, the obtained soot can feature a variety of shades and properties, ranging from purest, finest black carbon particles to brown glossy lumps.
> Soot on cauldrons Fig. 8 Quote 4 / Recipe 4
“Jtem wiltu schwartz farw / temperiren ze entwerffen / oder zemālen So nim / linden rom der an eim / kessel wachs oder ainem / rochloch oder wie der / rom ist das er lind vnd / gutt sy vnd clain geriben.” [24],[25]
Soot that deposits externally on cauldrons was an easy and cheap supply of a black colour. Hence it is not surprising that the use of “soot that grows on a cauldron or at a smoke-hole” is proposed in the above cited manuscript from Southern Germany.
> Soot on fireplace walls and chimneys, bister (caligo, fuligo, bitter) Fig. 9a, 9b / NO Quote / NO Recipe (no primary source available) / Colour sample 1 / RECONSTRUCTION
“Vom gereinigten Ruß. Wenn du aber gereinigten Ruß machen willst, dann nimm von den kleinen braunen Rußknollen so viel du willst und lege sie in Lauge und laß sie um ein Drittel einkochen und laß den Topf dann zugedeckt stehen, dann fallen die Verunreinigungen alle zu Boden und das obenstehende Wasser hat eine schöne feine Haarfarbe, worauf man sie auch aufstreicht. Und wenn man das Wasser gebrauchen will, dann gieße so viel du benötigst aus dem Topf und gib Gummi dazu, so daß die Farbe glänzend wird. Und streiche das auf, worauf du willst und schattiere damit Gewänder oder Steingebirge, denn sie ist gut zum Malen vieler Dinge und zu mancherlei Schattierung.”[26]

Soot and the various side products of incomplete combustion deposit on the side walls of hearths and fireplaces. Also, they precipitate as hard, glossy clumps within chimneys which pose a fire hazard and therefore have to be removed regularly by the chimney sweeper. The first mention of bister is usually ascribed to le Begues’ manuscript of 1431, where it is included in his table of synonyms as caligo and fuligo.[27] Yet other earlier sources mention the use of “small brown lumps of soot”.[28]
The composition of bister depends on the type of wood that was burnt and can differ considerably.[29] Beside carbon particles, bister contains many brown-coloured organic contaminants, which are the reason that bister is usually of a blackish-brown colour, which can tend even towards intense brown, or orange-brown shades. Le Begue even referred to a “dark saffron yellow” colour.[30]
Bister from resin-rich softwood leaves glossy residues on fireplace walls, hence the German name Glanzruß (Fig. 9a). These glossy tar-related, resinous substances are poorly soluble in water, properties that were undesirable for watercolours, as Ruffach warns in 1549.[31]  Bister has a characteristic smoke smell reminiscent of a campfire.
Some early recipes, as for instance the quoted one, prescribe to ‘purify’ the bister by washing it in lye and concentrating the solution by boiling it down. Impurities sink to the bottom and the remaining solution can be used. Other authors advise to add water and let it ‘sieden up die helfte’ (boil down to half) and finally add some alum.[32] Bister was attributed a healing effect, therefore, the material was sold in pharmacies, as a late fifteenth-century illustration of Fuligoin the Circa Instans, seu de medicamentis simplicibus by Plaetarius depicts (Fig. 9b). Bister is especially recommended for painting hair and beards.[33]
> Soot of conifer wood (Lampblack) Fig. 10a Quote 5 / No recipe / Colour sample 2, Colour sample 3
“Kün schwartz ist jederman bekant”[34]
Burning wood of coniferous trees provides another sort of soot, in German sources referred to as Kienrußschwarz or Kienschwarz. The English term lampblack literally refers to soot of (oil)lamps, but misleadingly became widely established as the common name for the soot of conifer wood.[35] The wood of coniferous trees contains a large amount of resins which makes it suitable as tinder, but also rendering a quite beautiful soot-black. After 1450, when printing with movable metal types was invented, lampblack became the principal soot-related black pigment because it was suited perfectly for book-printing ink. The forest-rich region of Thuringia in Central Germany and later also Scandinavia[36]became the major producers of lampblack.
Kienruß-furnaces were built by the side of pitch furnaces directly in forest areas in order to avoid the laborious transport of wood and effectively use up the wastes of pitch production. All conifer wood parts that could not be used otherwise, like roots, barks, needles, stumps etc., were used as raw material for the production of lampblack. German Kienruß-furnaces had a special design to separate fractions of soot differing in quality. These furnaces were able to produce very pure soot of high quality as well as of lower qualities (Fig. 10b). Krünitz makes an interesting remark when discussing Chinese ink production. He emphasizes the marvelous quality of black soot from burning spruce wood, which interestingly is also the major source of Kienruß production in Thuringia.[37]

The poor families of the Thuringian forest regions earnt a bit extra by fabricating chip-wood boxes made of fir-wood with a sliding lit for packing smaller quantities of lampblack.[38] Larger quantities were sold in vats of differing size.[39] Traded all over Europe in large quantities, lampblack came in different qualities. The best quality was used in typography as book printing ink and consisted of finest pure carbon particles and therefore had an intense black colour and a vast covering power. Lower qualities could contain larger soot particles or even bister-like residues and were used by shoemakers and house-painters. Yet lower qualities were used in the ship industry for coating ship hulls. Therefore, the major sales markets of the Thuringian carbon black manufacturers were Great Britain and the Netherlands, who, besides the low qualities, were also in need of good black pigment for their book printing centers.
Even before mass production started around the beginning of the seventeenth century, lampblack was already a well-known pigment. In the mid-sixteenth century it was so commonplace, that Boltz van Ruffach, who extensively discussed several black pigments in his Illuminier Buoch (1549), dedicated just one sentence to this pigment: “Kün schwartz ist jederman bekant”. It was already mentioned as a pigment for the preparation of black wax in the Liber illuministarum (1450/ 1500-1512) [40]  and was most probably at the disposal of Burgundian illuminators who might have appreciated its special properties.
> Soot of birch bark Fig. 11a, 11b Quote 6 / Recipe 5 / RECONSTRUCTION
“Wer aber das du des romß nit fȗndest, so nime birkin rinden vnd brenn sy an aim fȗr vnd stu̇rtz ain bekin darȗber oder ain glest kachel, das der tunst daruff mutt gon und der rom der daran wachst, der ist recht gutt.” [41]
Some types of hardwood also contain resins, like beech (genus Fagus) or birch (genus Betula).[42] Birch bark is a natural tinder because it burns perfectly due to its paper-thin structure and its resin content (Fig. 11b). The author of the cited Swabonian manuscript was aware that it renders good black soot when he noted around 1450: “But if you don’t find any soot, take birch bark and burn it in a fire and cover this with a small pot or a glazed earthenware vessel, so the smoke must touch it. The soot that grows on it is quite good.” Reconstructions showed that birch bark burns instantly, with a strong smoke development. In some cases, glossy, resinous products deposited with the birch bark soot.

Soot of resins (Fig. 12a, 12b)
Many types of wood contain resins, ranging from softwood to hard wood. Especially coniferous trees are known for their high content of resins which made them interesting for production of pitch and tar, and as sources for the production of black soot pigments. Resins are an additional source of carbon and therefore resin-rich woods produce more soot than woods without resin. Some resins were famous for their fragrance, like frankincense, myrrh and mastic. They were highly esteemed import products. Most resins have a medical application and therefore are included in medical treatises. They were sold in pharmacies.
> Soot of frankincense Fig. 13a, 13b Quote 7 / Recipe 6
“Item. Mache eine grosses Licht von Unschlitt (Talg) in einem Tiegel und zünde das an und spalte ein Stäbchen auf und tue Weihrauch dazwischen und halte das unter ein Becken was darüber gestürzt ist und brenne den Weihrauch in dem Lichte, so setzt sich Russ an dem Becken ab. Den streiche mit einer Feder ab und nehme Harz von Arabien [Gummi Arabicum] und lege das in Wasser das es sich auflöse und mische das dann darunter, das wird einer schöne wunderbare Fabe, mit der Du färben kannst was Du willst.”[43]
A precious source of soot, closely related to monastic use, was olibanum, frankincense. This fragrant resin is a product of trees of the genus Boswellia and had to be carried all the way from the Arabian Peninsula, north-east Africa or India (Fig. 13a,b). Frankincense is mentioned in two German treatises written in the second half of the fifteenth century. The recipes prescribe to fill a bowl with either animal fat[44] or oil[45], add a wick, and ignite it. The compiler of Liber illuministarum, working in a monastic environment, suggests putting a piece of frankincense ‘alz groß alz ain halbs ay'[46] onto the wick of an oil lamp. This size is rather large for a natural resin, and the wick must be considerably thick to keep such a large piece in place during burning. The cited German manuscript, HS 181503, comprises instructions for another procedure: to split a rod, insert a piece of frankincense, hold this over the flame. In both cases a bowl is installed on top to collect the formed soot. After cooling, the soot is swept into a clean pot with a feather.
> Soot of coniferous resin Fig. 14a, 14b Quote 8 / Recipe 7
“Item flamswart toe maken. Neem dycke lemmyt van groeven  tauwe als eenswanen veder ende cleme daer harse om als een eynde van I kersen unde settet under I becken ser scoen ghescurt, ghestolpet op iij halve backen steen ende wil mens vole hebben so mach men om dat kersken legghen iiij stacke herse in een kannenschaert off in een latel panne ende latet wtbemen ende dan vechtet van den becken ende wrijstet wal myt watter also langhe al rubrijck ende steeckt op een krijt ende lattet drugen ende doet in een busse.”[47]
Less exotic, but interconnected with frankincense, is the resin of many European trees. Especially coniferous trees are resin-rich, they even contain distinctive resin canals. Resin is naturally exuded by injured trees;  it seals their wounds and has a protective function (Fig. 14a). By deliberately cutting the bark of trees, a substantial amount of protruding resin can be collected throughout a year. The resin requires further cleaning by melting and straining. It was used in as incense and in medicine and was depicted in early printed medical treatises like the Hortus sanitates, an incunabulum printed in Mainz in 1497 (Fig. 14b). Burning the resin of pine, spruce or fir trees produces a soot-rich smoke, an excellent precondition for pigment production. In 1431 le Begue included an antique recipe into his compilation of copied art-technological treatises, where resin is burnt indirectly on hot tiles to obtain a black pigment.[48] Resin could also be kneaded around a wick, placed between additional resin in a fire-proof earth ware and ignited. By completely burning the resin, the soot was collected on the surface of a clean bowl that was set upside down on three bricks, as the cited recipe in the Kölner Musterbuch (1450) written by hand in Northeastern Middledutch reveals.
Larger-scale soot production from resin of coniferous trees began in Europe with the introduction of book printing.[49] This process was carried out in specifically-built small shacks, in which cauldrons full of resin or pitch were placed, ignited, and the evolving soot collected on stretched animal skins or canvas lined with paper.[50] In this way, larger amounts of what was then called noir de fumée leger or noir de Paris were made. This product was misleadingly also sold under the name lampblack.[51]
> Soot of pitch and tar (Fig. 15a, 15b)
In wood-rich areas of Scandinavia, Central Germany and France resin of coniferous wood was extracted on large-scale by dry distillation. Wood was stacked in specifically-built ovens with an external heat source.[52] The high temperatures caused the resins within the wood to melt, and they were collected as so-called pitch. Viscous pitch was further heated to produce the nearly solid, black-coloured tar. Tar and pitch render all kinds of materials waterproof and therefore were abundantly available, especially in harbor cities, proving indispensable for the shipbuilding industry. Both materials could be burnt directly in pans, as described above under soot of coniferous trees/noir de Paris.
> Soot of Pix Burgundica (Fig. 16a, 16b)
Burgundy pitch is a specially prepared resin of the spruce (genus Picea). It is unknown if it was available in the fifteenth century, but is included here as one potential source for soot making in Burgundy.
> Soot of colophony Fig. 17
A particular fraction of pine resin is further processed to Greek pitch, colophony, which was used after 1450 for producing soot for printing inks.[53]
> Soot of torches Fig. 18 Quote 9 / Recipe 8
“To make a fuime black called Sable. Take a cleane latten basen, and hold a burning torch under it, untill the botome be black, and then take of that blacke, and temper it with glayre or with Gumme water, and so worke with it.” [54]
The flammability of tar and pitch made them ideal for impregnating the tops of torches. The Montpellier Liber diversarum arcium refers to soot of pine-torch collected in a cuprous vessel, stored in a well folded page, and used as pigment for preparing a black ink.[55] It is assumed that torches were a rather easily available source for preparing black pigments. Several publications of the sixteenth and especially the seventeenth century include soot of torches as a watercolour pigment, for example, the recipe quoted at the beginning of this section from the book “The Art of Limming”, published in 1596.


Tab. 2a: Chars. Raw materials for black watercolour pigments in chronological order according to sources from 1350-1500. Empty columns list potentially available materials, (x) lists pigments mentioned in other contexts
Tab. 2b: Chars. References to black watercolour pigments in chronological order. Black: Fourteenth-fifteenth century, dark grey: Sixteenth century, light grey: Seventeenth century

Chars play an important role as black pigments. Well known are pieces of charcoal, charred wood, which can often be found in the ashes of wood-fueled fires. Deliberate production of charcoal was a precondition for the ability to smelt iron ore.[56] Charring is a specific process of thermal decomposition, irreversibly changing the chemical and physical properties of organic materials.
The charring process differs essentially from soot production. During charring, oxygen is deliberately excluded with the aim of manipulating the combustion process (anoxic conditions). This is realized by heating the raw material in a nearly air-tight environment, for instance by putting the raw material into a fire-proof crucible which is placed in a fire (Fig. 19a). Another process is the ancient technique of large-scale production of charcoal where a closely-stacked wood pile is covered with a layer of muddy clay and ignited internally (Fig. 19b). It needs to be taken into account that during charring many gasses are released which must be able to escape, so the process cannot be completely air-tight. The charring process passes four phases:
> Drying: At 100°C the not-chemically bound water evaporates.
> Thermal decomposition: Once a temperature of 280°C – 300°C is reached, organic components undergo a rapid thermal decomposition, chemical bonds break and non-carbon elements like hydrogen are released from the carbon chains and form gasses which escape, causing a considerable loss of mass. These chemical reactions continue with increased temperatures, but at a lower rate. The thermal decay is specific for different materials, like for instance bone[57] or wood.[58] Flame formation and further combustion are impeded by the absence of oxygen.
> Carbonization: The remaining material, which cannot further incinerate, starts to change its chemical structure, a process called carbonization. During that stage, the carbon framework starts to reorganize.
> Cooling: Finally, during the cooling phase, the carbon re-crystallizes. It forms a graphite-like structure that causes an increased absorption of electromagnetic radiation, and hence the material appears black.[59]

After charring, the outer structure of the material remains unchanged, but is shrunken due to the loss of organic matter and the colour is black. All inorganic components remain, and play an important role in scientific identification of black char-based pigments.[60] Depending on the initial strength of the material, charred structures can be quite solid and need pounding in a mortar and thorough grinding before they are suitable as pigments.
According to historic recipes, four major groups of charred materials can be distinguished: (1) wood, (2) shells and pits of nuts and fruits, (3) bones, horn, ivory, and (4) incompletely burnt materials.

Charred wood/charcoal
Charcoal burns without smoke, because all organic components that could form gasses are already lost during the charring process. Burning charcoal reaches higher temperatures than uncharred wood yields. Therefore, it is of special interest to all professions that require high temperatures like blacksmiths, goldsmiths, lime burners and potters. Charcoal is included in many artisan treatises as fuel for specific purposes.
> Charred wood (Fig. 20a, 20b) Quote 10
“Kol Swart. Van houdt colen maekt men een blouw offt grauw swardt / alsmen die wel clijn vrijft, en opt crijt laet verdroogen.”[61]
All types of wood can be processed to charcoal. The initial hardness of the wood is retained after charring. For this reason, oak wood is not recommended as raw material for black pigments.[62] Instead, softer wood species are preferred. In 1431 Le Begue lists carbo in his tabula de vocabulis sinonimis et equivocis colorum, black pigments made from charred wood of willow, poplar, vine and similar soft woods.[63] Other authors just use the generic term charcoal as a source of black pigment, often without specifying the source of wood.[64]
> Charred vine shoots or willow twigs Fig. 21a, 21b RECONSTRUCTION
Already in the fourteenth century, the Montpellier Liber diversarum arcium, specifies charred vine (genus Vitis) or willow (genus Salix) as preferred raw materials for the black paint of illuminators. According to Marc Clarke (2011), the black of these chars is referred to in earlier sources as nigrum optimum, “the best black”.[65] Later sources recommend charred wood of willow as well.[66] Crayons made of charred twigs of vine or willow belong to the average toolbox of fifteenth-century artists, perfect tools for (under)drawing. It is known that charcoal crayons break easily and therefore can be effortlessly ground as a source of a black pigment. Tendrils and twigs of vine plants were also burnt directly to obtain a black pigment, however this causes quite a loss of material.
> Linden tree char Colour sample 4
The late medieval Liber Illuministarum includes charred linden tree soot, but as a pigment used in primers for gilding, not as black watercolour.[67] A series of Latin recipes in MS Sloane 2052 in an anonymous hand lists carbones seq. Tilius,the charred wood of the linden tree (genus Tilia).[68]

Charred fruit pits and nut shells
Nothing was wasted, and pits and shells of fruits and nuts could be recycled through charring. While collecting those is confined to the harvest season, they can be stored in dried form until processing. Charring was carried out in closed crucibles.[69] After charring, shells and pits keep their initial hardness, hence they require crushing in a mortar before they can be ground on a stone. Grinding on those “stones” is quite labor-intensive.
> Charred pits of peach fruits Fig. 22a, 22b, 22c  Quote 11 / Recipe 9 RECONSTRUCTION
“So nim pfersichstein / thun die in einen nuewen hafen / thun ein fynen behaeben deckel doruff / den verkleib gar wol das kein dampff daruß moege / es würden sonst die stein zu ytel aeschen werden. Den Hafen gib einem hafner der brennen will / das er dir den zu andrem geschirr in ofen setz zu brennen. Wann er dann gebrant hatt / so nimm den hafen unnd thun jn uff, so sind die stein kol schwartz. Die zerstoß in eim mörsel gar klein / unnd ryb sy gar lang unn wol / uff einem stein / biß sy nimme ruch sindt. Temperier sy darnach an mit welcher temperatur du woellest / so hastu gar ein schoen gut schwartz.”[70]
Of all fruit pits, those of the peach (Prunus persica) are certainly the most frequently recorded source for black watercolour pigments. Two fifteenth-century recipes for black pigment, both of Mediterranean origin, refer to peach pits. They make a “perfect and fine black”.[71],[72] They were repeatedly included in many sixteenth and seventeenth-century treatises:

> Charred pits of cherries, apricots and dates Fig. 23a, 23b, 23c Quote 12 RECONSTRUCTION
“Noyaulx de Cerises brusles & reduicts en charbon dans vn creuset couuert…”[73]
Mayerne’s discourse with Mr. Huskins, an excellent illuminator, of March 14, 1634 includes the cited recommendation of cherry black. While cherries (genus Prunus) were available, their pits are not mentioned in recipes before 1600. However, later sources list cherry stones frequently as raw material for black pigments,[74] as with pits of apricots (genus Prunus) and dates (genus Phoenix). Peacham in 1634 lists Date stones burnt under “These be the blacks which you most commonly use in painting”, suggesting that sufficient date stones were available in London by then to produce at least smaller amounts of black pigment.[75]
> Charred almond shells Fig. 24
Kernels of almonds are surrounded by hard shells. Several Italian authors of the fifteenth and sixteenth century refer to almond shells. These were used for making black pigments, burnt or charred either with the edible kernels, or without.[76] Piemontese in 1561 advises to take either sweet or bitter almond shells, but “if the kernels are inside, it is much better”.[77]

Charred vine lees, vine pomace Fig. 25 Quote 13
“Noir d’Allemagne. Nous saisons venir de Francfort, de Mayance, & de Strasbourg, un Noir en pierre & en poudre, qui est de lie de vin brûlée & jettée dans de l’eau & aprés avoir été seché on le passe dans des moulins faits expres, …”[78]

Other black pigments for watercolours were derived from charred vine lees, yeasts and pomace. Hoogstraten in 1678 refers to ‘gebrande wijndroesem of druif kernen’,[79] and in 1694 Pomet refers to burnt vine lees in the citation. This waste product of wine making gained later fame as Frankfurt black, widely employed as a pigment for intaglio printing ink.[80]
According to Krünitz, the pigment was traded via Frankfurt upon Main, a city with a century-long history of trade-fairs, hence the name. He points to the fact that the French got Frankfurt black via Frankfurt, Mainz or Strasbourg, which is in agreement with the statements of Pomet. Krünitz reveals that the black pigment was actually produced down the river Main, in Kitzingen, a protestant city in Franken, close to Würzburg, a region still famous for its white wine production. We also learn from Krünitz how the production process took place in detail. The wine yeasts that remained in the vessel after the distillation of brandy (the Italians make Grappa of it), are poured onto a coarse stretched cloth so that all remaining liquid can run off. The residues are then pressed into balls and left to dry in the air or in the sun. These dry balls are inserted into pots; the pots are covered with well-fitting lids, carefully glued with clay, put into a potter’s oven and burnt with the other goods. After taking it out, the vine-yeast has burnt to a completely black charcoal, the so called ‘Frankfurt black’.[81]

Charred bone/hartshorn/ivory
Bone is closely related to ivory, hartshorn, tusk and teeth materials, due to their comparable composition. As proven by archaeological excavations, these materials are remarkably durable and even survive extreme fires. They consist of organic components which are mainly collagen, and of inorganic mineral components, calcium hydroxyapatite with calcium and phosphor as major elements.[82] By complete combustion (burning), bones and related materials lose all organic components. Calcium hydroxyapatite remains, which is white of colour (bone white). As a result of incomplete combustion (charring) most of the organic components are lost, but carbon is formed and re-crystallizes into graphite-like structures. Together with the inorganic calcium hydroxyapatite, which also abides high temperatures, these form bone black. The re-crystallization process (carbonization) of bone material starts above temperatures of 350°C, resulting first in brown-black coloured products. From 600°C onwards, changes in the crystalline structure occur and the remaining material is deeply black coloured.[83],[84] Charred bones, hartshorn and ivory are very hard, and require proper pounding first, and then grinding on stone slabs before they can be used as a pigment.
> Charred bone (spodium)  Fig. 26a, 26b, 26c  Quote 14 / Recipe 10  RECONSTRUCTION Colour sample 5
“Le meilleur de touts les noirs, qui s’estend le mieulx, & duquel mestnes on peult glacer, est le noir d’yuoire, ou d’os de pieds de mouton, lesquels se mettent par pieces dans vn creuset, qu’il fault bien couurir d’une tuile ou bricque, & luter les joinctures si exactement que rien no respire; le tout sec soit mis dans vn bon feu, par l’espace d’vne heure seulement, (aultrement les os pourroyent blancher), & ainsi soit bruslée la matière a parfaitte noirceur.” [85]

Bones were common domestic left-overs, as we learn from Cennini’s recipe for the preparation of bone white: “… take the bones of the ribs and wings of fowls or capons; and the older they are the better. When you find them under the table, ….”[86] Bone white, very closely related to bone black, is prepared by complete combustion, and was a conventional artists’ material in the fifteenth century. It served for instance as a coating of paper supports for metal-points, the dominating drawing material of the Burgundian period.[87] By excluding oxygen during charring, bone black could be produced, which around 1450 was considered “the best for illuminating”.[88] Care must be taken during charring that no oxygen reaches the bones, because in that case the combustion continues, the carbon reacts to carbon dioxide and the bone material turns white (calcium hydroxyapatite, bone white). This process can happen locally, usually close to the lid where air might enter (Fig. 26c). Such a side effect was well known, and is described by Mr. Mytens, Excellent painter, who recommends using sheep feet to produce bone black and warns about ‘bleaching’ in the above-quoted recipe.
Charred bones are mentioned under the term uulgariter Elpenswarcz (vulgar ivory black) in the Liber illuministarum to colour beeswax black.[89] The late sixteenth-century author of MS Fr 60 refers to burnt bones of the feet of oxen as a black pigment, which according to him renders a blueish tone.[90]

> Charred hartshorn (cornu cervi ustum) Fig. 27a, 27b, 27c / Colour sample 6  / RECONSTRUCTION
The antler of a male red deer, hartshorn, resembles bone in its composition and therefore its charred products are comparable to bone black. Reconstructions showed that hartshorn is extremely hard and sawing into pieces was necessary to fit them into a crucible. None of the consulted fifteenth-century sources contained a reference to charred hartshorn black, while several subsequent sources of the sixteenth and seventeenth century do mention it as a watercolour pigment. Hartshorn was obviously known in the Burgundian period; Liber Illuminarum refers to burnt hartshorn white, stating that it is comparable to lead white, but less white than burnt ivory.[91] It was available via the apothecaries, where it was sold as cornu cervi ustum.
Ø  Charred ivory (ebur ustum) Fig. 28a, 28b Quote 15 – Recipe 11
“Schwartz in Schwartz malen oder zuschreiben. Meister Lucas Churfs.’ Mahler zu Wittem= / berg, hat under andern auch diss lob / gehabt, daß er den besten / Sammet soll gemalt haben, darumb daz er in schwarz / noch schwarzer, vnd auch allerschwarzst / hat mahlen können dem Thue allso. /
Nimb bei einem Compassenmacher 1 h. / helffenbeinen Abschnitten, thue es in / ein unverglest seidl hefelein, deckh ein / stürzlein darüber, verkleibs mit Leimen / auf das aller genaust, gibs einem / hafner, dass ers mit andern häfen / die er brent einseze, So es nun auß / dem offen wie andere hafen genommen / wurt, brich die stürzen herab, / heb dieselben gebranten stücklein / helfenbein auf, stoss in einem Mörsern / zu Puluer, wan du es zum schreiben / oder mahlen brauchen willt, reibs / unnder leinöl, so würstu sehen / daz es schwerzer ist dan kein schwarz.”[92]

Ivory black plays an important role as a black pigment until the nineteenth century. Ivory, the tusks of elephants, form black reaction products through charring, and white through complete combustion, as other bone materials do. Ivory black was a luxurious substance and was made from leftovers of ivory processing, like the ivory filings of comb and compass makers, [93] as described in the cited German recipe for a “black that is blacker than no other black”, referring to Meister Lucas, Kurfürstlicher Maler (most probably Lucas Cranach the Elder or the Younger) who was praised for painting the best velvets and the blackest blacks.
While many seventeenth-century authors mention ivory black as a watercolour, only a few earlier references exist. A fifteenth-century reference is found in codex Latinus Monacensis, including an indirect note to ivory black as a pigment, that mentions bone black as a substitute.[94] Surrogates for ivory are mostly ordinary animal bones. The tusks of mammoths, walruses[95], and the teeth of the sperm whale were used as well. Like bone, ivory is extremely durable. It was available in pharmacy shops as ebur ustum.

Tab. 3a: Burnt substances. Raw materials for black watercolour pigments in chronological order according to sources from 1350-1500. Empty columns list potentially available materials

Tab. 3b: Burnt substances. References to black watercolour pigments in chronological order. Black: Fourteenth-Fifteenth century, dark grey: Sixteenth century, light grey: Seventeenth century

Some recipes prescribe to burn a material. However, in order to avoid complete combustion with great loss of material, it is necessary to stop the process precisely at the point when maximum carbonization is reached. Therefore, recipes advise to directly immerse the burnt material in water. In this wet state the material can be directly ground on a stone or left to dry for later processing. Different burnt substances are described in the sources: (1) vine twigs, (2) vine lees, vine pomace, cream of tartar (3) paper, and (4) bread.
Burnt vine-related components
1.    Vine twigs Fig. 29a, 29b Quote 16  RECONSTRUCTION
“Another black is made of the tendrils or young shoots of the vine, which are to be burned, and when burnt, thrown into water, and quenched, and then ground like other black pigments.”[96]
The author of De Arte Illuminandi[97] as well as Cennini both refer to vine twigs and tendrils, left-overs from pruning. Burning these plant left-overs in order to produce a pigment was a smart method of recycling. Vine twigs can be simply burnt directly at the site, without the necessity of using crucibles. Pruning of vine plants happens everywhere where viticulture is carried out. It is therefore not surprising that Italian authors describe this method. Reconstructions show that burning of fresh vine tendrils and twigs is not as easy as it sounds. After an initial drying process, thin twigs burn quite quickly. Determining the precise time when water should be added is quite tricky, because while some twigs are still unburnt, other parts have already turned to ashes.

Burnt paper Fig. 30a, 30b Quote 17 / Recipe 12 /  RECONSTRUCTION
“Pampier Swaert. Dit swardt wordt ghemaeckt vande boexckens daer / het gaudt offt silver in gheleijt is, dese boecxkens salmen / ontsteeken met een kerssche , ende laeten branden alssche / gheheel verbrandt sijn dan salmense laeten vallen in / een commeken met water, daer naer salmense wel clijn vrijven (fol. 24v) / vrijven ende opt crijt laeten droogen.”[98]
Several sixteenth- and seventeenth-century authors refer to the burnt paper of goldbeaters-booklets. Some even mention that this specific paper had a red colour.[99] This is true, since these papers were coated with red bolus which allowed a colour-impression of the gold on red bolus grounds and prevented the gold leaves sticking to the paper.[100]
While gold-leaves were certainly to be found in studios of Burgundian illuminators, none of the fifteenth-century treatises contain any reference to black pigments made from goldbeaters paper-booklets or to burnt paper in general. This is remarkable, because gold-leaf was extensively used in Burgundy, already at the end of the fourteenth century, especially for the gilding of altarpieces, interiors, and painting. Thanks to the meticulous administration preserved in the ducal accounts, the trade in fine gold-leaves amongst other artists’ materials is well documented.[101] They were bought from espiciers situated in Paris, Troyes, and Dijon and were sold as papiers, containing 300 leaves of gold or silver. Adding all gold-leaves that were purchased by way of example in 1385 for artistic purposes, in one year 16,841 leaves of fine gold were bought. From 1375-1416 a total of 167,591 gold-leaves were acquired, an extraordinarily large quantity. Individual gold-leaves were 8-9cm2, hence the paper booklets (papiers) probably had a somewhat larger size of about 10x10cm. Re-using this enormous amount of wastepaper seems sensible. It should be kept in mind that in the northern provinces paper was still an import product. While French and Italian paper mills had existed since much earlier, the first paper mill in the Northern provinces was established in Huy, located between Naumur and Liège, in 1405.[102] Uncoated papers might have been reused as paper for writing notes instead of being burnt.
Ø  Burnt bread (Manchet) Fig. 31a, 31b, 31c No image of quote / Colour sample 7
“Broot Swart. Wittenbroot salmen branden tusschen gloeijende kooIen tot dat het geheel swart is, ende vrijvent dan wel fijn op eenen steen ende doet daer bij een halve boon groote sout, met soo veel gestoote gom ende wijn, ende 1aeten dat so een half ure ten minsten vrijven, en strijcken ‘t dan in een schelp en laet het droogen tot dat gij ‘t gebruijcken wilt ende tempert het dan met schoon waeter, en wilt gij het bruijnder set eht met ruijwaeter dat is sloot waeter, en het sal goet wesen.”[103]
Unintentionally burnt bread is common and surely was available in fifteenth-century Burgundy. However, when artists precisely discovered it as a source of black pigment requires further investigation. Burnt white bread, also referred to as burnt Manchet, is frequently mentioned in later sources, but does not appear in any of the consulted pre-1600 recipes for black watercolour pigments. Boogert (1692) refers to a “stuck roggen-broodt”, rye bread.[104]

Tab. 4a: Coal, earth and minerals. Raw materials for black watercolour pigments in chronological order according to sources from 1350-1500. Empty columns list potentially available materials
Tab. 4b: Coal, earths, minerals. References to black watercolour pigments in chronological order. Black: Fourteenth-fifteenth century, dark grey: Sixteenth century, light grey: Seventeenth century

The thin shell on the outside of Earth, the earth’s crust, contains many black-coloured substances. Black coal which is of organic origin, black earths and several inorganic minerals, were all used as black pigments. Some minerals even belong to the most ancient black paints used by mankind. The group includes the following raw materials: (1) coal, (2) earths, (3) minerals.

Black pigments made of coal appear in artists’ treatises from the late fifteenth century onwards. They are frequently mentioned in seventeenth-century English sources, when the famous English sea coal was introduced to domestic life, as well as by Flemish, Dutch and French authors. Coal is a sedimentary rock, formed from accumulation of plant material in oxygen-deficient swamp waters. Over millions of years, the plant deposits moved into ever deeper layers of the earth’s crust, where they were exposed to high pressure and increased temperatures. This led to carbonization processes. The deeper the coal is deposited, the higher the carbon content . Besides carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, also sulfur and nitrogen are major elements present in coal. Due to the content of sulfur, it’s fumes emit an unpleasant smell during burning. Within Burgundian territory there was an important natural source of coal: the deposits of the Sambre-Meuse valley, which stretched from Mons in the County of Hainaut, via Charleroy and Namur to the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.
> Luyker zwart Quote 18
“Luijcker Swardt. Men maekt oock goet swardt van steencoolen alsmen / die well vrijfft met schoon water, ende verwercken met / schoon gomwater dit is seer bequaem swardt om wullen / laecken mede aen te legghen, ende wordt ghenoemdt smeko / lin swardt.”[105]
Liège (dut: Luik) is the eponym for the pigment Luyker zwart, which appears as a black pigment for limning in two seventeenth-century manuscripts; the cited one from Antwerp and another textually closely related manuscript from Amsterdam.[106] Coal was mined near the city of Liège already in the thirteenth century, it must thus have been accessible to illuminators active in Burgundian regions. However, the coal’s sulfur content causes interactions with sulfur-sensitive pigments like lead white, inducing colour changes. Such decay reactions were known to illuminators who avoided combinations of susceptible pigments.
> Coal Fig. 32a, 32b
At the end of the fifteenth century coal is mentioned for preparation of a black printing ink in a compilation of artists’ recipes written in Oostmiddelnederlands: “So wrijft steynkolen myt vasser”, suggesting that it was known and available in the northern territories. [107]
> Sea coal Fig. 33a, 33b
A specific type of coal, sea coal, is a British phenomenon. It is found in the north east of England, especially in the region around Newcastle. Here, exposed to the seashore, coal seams outcrop on the beaches, which explains the name. Adjacent to the coastal area, deposits of coal were found close to the surface. Already in Roman times coal was mined in England, which later fell into oblivion. In the thirteenth century, coal was rediscovered in areas where seawater bared coal deposits. Surface deposits were exploited on larger scale from the fourteenth century onwards, especially around the river Tyne. Initially used by black smiths and lime burners, it replaced wood and charcoal as domestic fuel in English coal districts in the fifteenth century.[108] During the sixteenth century, a considerable demand for coal had sprung up on the continent, where especially French metal processing artificers were dependent on English coal exports.[109] The final transition from wood to sea coal as fuel in domestic London took place during the seventeenth century. This was first met by quite an opposition: ”the nice dames of London would not come into any house or room when sea coals were burned, nor willingly eat of the meat that was either sod or roasted with sea coal fire”[110] The disturbing smoke and smell of sea coal fires was an ongoing annoyance. Not only for people, but concern was raised with regard to the permanence of painted works: ‘for the colors themselves may not endure some Ayres, especially the Sulphurous Ayers of Seacoal’.[111] This warning is not yet included in the first edition of Bates “The Mysteries of Nature and Art” of 1634, but does appear 20 years later in the third edition, when sea coal was established as a commonplace fuel in London. With regard to these developments, especially with the increased availability of sea coal, it is not surprising that the late sixteenth century and especially the seventeenth century mark the period when it first appears in sources as a black pigment.
> Smith coal Fig. 34, Quote 19 / Colour sample 8
“Smeekoole swart. Het smeekole swart is niet / anders als het geen men van / den smis of brouwers kool / met schoon reegenwater / komt tevrijve  dat men met / reedelijk kort gom water moet tempereren en / is dan reedelijk vloeijbar / om op verscheije mannieren / tegebruijke gegellijck als hier / tesien is.”[112]
Several seventeenth-century sources mention smith coal, for instance Goeree included it in his list of watercolours of 1670.[113] It might refer to both charcoal and coal, since smiths use both. In the case of Mayerne’s manuscript it is applied as a substitute term for Luyker black, coal. Probably seventeenth-century attention was owed to the fact that coal was easier to obtain.
> Black earth (terra negra, terra nera) Fig. 35 Quote 20
“blacke made of a kind of rubbish called blacke earth”[114]
Already in 1431 le Begue, who compiled many manuscripts of Italian origin, refers to terre nigre.[115] It seems to have been an Italian export product. All consulted Italian treatises of the late sixteenth century include terra ne(g)ra, and it was predominantly present as a black pigment in Italian pigment-price lists of the late sixteenth century, and throughout the seventeenth century.[116] Amongst the listed black pigments it is even the cheapest. This might explain Lomazzo’s disdain, calling it rubbish.
It seems that Italian black earth was exported to Burgundian territories. While it is not part of the ducal purchases of artists’ materials between 1375-1419, it is mentioned just some months later. For the preparation of decorations, painted flags and shields for the Troyes ceremonies in 1420, 1/2 pound of Noire terre was bought from Collart Le Roy, a mercier.[117] It is questionable if such a cheap black earth was ever applied for one of the most subtle of visual arts, illumination. It is included here since its availability at Burgundian courts as a black pigment is documented in the ducal records.

> Black stone, black chalk (lapis nero) Fig. 36
Already around 1400 Cennini refers to lapis nero, then a new material from the Piemont region, ideal for use as black chalk crayons for drawing. [118] In 1431 le Begue includes lapis niger into his table of synonyms.[119]  Black chalk is commonly found close to slate mines and was also applied as a pigment. Albeit in absence of ivory black, it is the most expensive black pigment in the aforementioned Italian pigment price lists published by Spear. Slate deposits are present in today’s Belgium. It would be interesting to determine if it was already available to Burgundian artists as a black drawing medium or pigment, or if they imported it from Italy.
> Graphite, black lead Fig. 37a, Quote 21
“To temper blacke Leade: Grynde well blacke Leade with gumme water on a Painters stone, and then put it in a shell to woorke withal. This is a perfite Crane colour of it selfe”.[120]
In the first half of the sixteenth century graphite was discovered in Cumberland, England, too late for Burgundian illuminators. The first image of a black lead pencil was published by the Swiss scholar Conrad Gesner in 1565.[121]Shortly after, it is mentioned as a black pigment in the first English printed book on limning, the 1573 published “A very proper treatise wherein is breefely set forth the art of limming”. The anonymous author makes the reader aware that the colour obtained is that of the crane, a perceptive observation which is repeated by later authors.[122]
> Antimony black (kohl, Stibium sulfuratum nigrum) Fig. 38a, 38b
It is noteworthy that this pigment, while not included in the consulted treatises, was identified in at least two illuminations of different artists active around 1500, namely an Italian miniature by the Pallavicini Master (active in Rome 1492-1507) and in one of five French grisaille miniatures from the Poeme sur la Passion by the Master of Girard Acarie (c. 1530).[123] Antimony (III) sulfide (Sb2S3) is a naturally occurring black-grey coloured mineral, stibnite. Stibnite is quite common and found in many European mines. It occurs in paragenesis with many other sulfide minerals, such as orpiment, realgar, cinnabarite, pyrite, and barite, all well-known artist materials. The mineral has been known since ancient times and was used for instance as black eyeliner, especially in the Arab culture, where it is known by the name kohl. Highly regarded by alchemists, widely used in metallurgy and in medicine, antimony black most probably was available to the Burgundian illuminators.
> Bismuth black Fig. 39
Bismuth black was identified as granular elemental bismuth in eight illustrations by Jean Bourdichon (1457–1521), an important French manuscript illuminator. These illustrations were spread over three manuscripts dating from the early 1480s to 1515. [124]  Bismuth black was not found in the consulted sources as part of an illuminator’s palette. In nature, bismuth occurs either native in its elemental state, or in ores of for instance cobalt, nickel, silver and tin. It is found for instance in Schneeberg, Germany and was discussed by Paracelsus and Agricola in the first half of the sixteenth century.
> Pyrolusite (Maganese(IV)oxide, MnO2) Fig. 40
Already used by Neanderthals and found in prehistoric cave and rock art, pyrolusite is a naturally occurring black-grey mineral, and an important ore for manganese. Many deposits are present in Europe. The Montpellier Liber diversarum arcium lists it under ‘De manganese’ as a black colour for glass and ceramics. Pyrolusite was identified in a manuscript initial illuminated in Bologna or Rome about 1490-1500.[125] It should be noted that certain umbers show a high pyrolusite content .

Tab. 5a: Metal-related pigments. Raw materials for black watercolour pigments in chronological order according to sources from 1350-1500. Empty columns list potentially available materials

Tab. 5b: Metal-related pigments. References to black watercolour pigments in chronological order.
Black: Fourteenth-fifteenth century, dark grey: Sixteenth century, light grey: Seventeenth century

The production of bells and cannons, as well as specific processes of stained-glass manufacture, generated black pigments. These found their way into the ateliers of illuminators, a proof of the close intertwining of different artisanal professions. The group of metal-related black pigments consists of (1) Bronze-cast black and (2) Black copper vitreous pigment.
Bronze-cast black (Nero di terra di campana) (Fig 41) No image of this quote, because missing image of original
“As experience shows, in the casting of bells, while the metal falls in the earthen mould, it causes a large part of it nearest to the metal to become very black. The painters use this instead of black earth.” [126]
The late sixteenth century treatises of Armenini and Borghini both mention the use of a black pigment that is closely related to the  art of bell casting. [127],[128] The cited Mariani-Cibo manuscript, an Italian text on miniature painting dating from 1620, recommends it as an alternative to black earth.
Nero di terra di campana is described as a black-coloured ‘crust’ that is retained after casting of bells and items for the artillery, e.g., cannons. It remains unclear which material precisely is meant here. Most probably it concerns the loam-layer of the mould that directly adheres to the outer bronze-metal of the cast. After cooling down and removing of the outer and inner mould, this layer has to be scratched off carefully by hand. Another explanation could be the introduction of graphite as a coating during the casting process, which rendered the surface of the cast much smoother. The use of graphite was possible just after its discovery and availability in other countries than England, which indeed might have been the case at the end of the sixteenth century in Italy. This new and fancy material might have triggered authors to include it into their artist manuals.
Bell founding was carried out by travelling belleters directly at the church that commissioned the bell. Therefore, nero di terra di campana is quite a unique material, available either at the rare occasion of the founding of a bell, or at certain places, such as cannon foundries. Unanswered remains the question why this specific black is only mentioned in Italian sources and if its use was confined to Italian illuminators only.
Black copper vitreous pigment (Schwartz kupffer lot) Fig. 42 Quote 22
“Von kupfferlott schwartz kupfferlot zu machen. Nim reinen Hammerschlag ein lot, und ein lot kupfferäschen, ii lot schmeltz glaß, daß reibe alles wol durcheinander, biß das es gar keine sandige räuch mehr hab, du solts aber reiben auf einem kupffern blat, temperiers mit Gummi wasser, mit dem magstu alle liechte farben verschattieren, besonder aber weisse farb.“[129]
In the fifteenth century close collaborations existed between different crafts. Glass painters for instance, adopted techniques from oil painting and the graphic arts, transforming the medieval craft to a high level of artistic excellence.[130],[131],[132] Glass-painter workshops in Strasbourg were innovative by introducing new graphic elements, and worked from templates by Rogier van der Weyden and Martin Schongauer. Around 1500, designs by Albrecht Duerer, Hans Baldung Grien and others were executed in glass. This mutual exchange is reflected also in contemporaneous sources on black pigments. In his treatise, Boltz von Ruffach included a black pigment that was prepared by painters of glass (see citation). This pigment is called schwartz kupffer lot and was utilized as black vitreous paint to draw linear contours on glass. According to Ruffach, as a watercolour this pigment is of a falb brun (brownish) colour and is as easy to use as the black of soot.[133] Such a glass paint is already recorded in the fifteenth-century Montpellier Liber diversarum arcium. [134] It is prepared in a similar way to the one Ruffach describes, just by mixing 1 part pulverized black copper(II)oxide (CuO, crocus veneris, generated by repeated annealing of thin copper sheets and subsequent washing and grinding), 3 parts of pulverized dark blue glass, 4 parts of forged iron particles (ger: Hammerschlag) and a bit of manganese. Due to the use of blue glass, this recipe results in a blue-black pigment. To prepare a watercolour, the black pigment was tempered with gum water. It is reasonable to imagine that Burgundian illuminators knew about vitreous paints, but how far they applied these pigments for their own work requires further research.

CLASS 6:  BLACK INKS & DYES Figure 43, 44

Tab. 6a: Inks & dyes. Raw materials for black watercolour pigments in chronological order according to sources from 1350-1500. Empty columns list potentially available materials

Tab. 6b Inks & dyes. References to black watercolour pigments in chronological order. Black: Fourteenth-fifteenth century, dark grey: Sixteenth century, light grey: Seventeenth century

In general, scribes and illuminators constituted two separate professions. While ink was, of course, indispensable for scribes to carry out their writing, copying and calligraphy, it might appear somewhat surprising that it also belonged to the common palette of illuminators. That the differences were less strict is shown in one of the rare miniature paintings that depicts an illuminator in his study (Fig. 43). His writing paraphernalia are spread on the table in front of him: goose quills, a knife, a sander and his calamal, a portable container to safely carry writing instruments and the inkwell, which is worn on the belt. It makes sense that his implements for illumination are safely placed on a separate table to is left side below the window.
Diluted ink was widely used for first drafting the contours of a design. In addition, ink was used for shaping outlines or particular features in illuminations, as well as to achieve the finest details in the marginal decorations. Paint mixtures could include inks to achieve specific shades, for instance a grey colour. Around 1500, an anonymous author advised to mix the same amount of red paint with good ink to achieve a grey colour: “Grijse verue. Nym gueden robrijck ende guet ench darvp gelijck vyl, ende schud sy in eyn horn ende laet yt staen eyn nacht.”[135]
Inks played a prominent role in the specific genre of miniature painting in grisaille that flourished under Burgundian reign. A famous example of the Burgundian era is the Book of Hours of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, created between c.1450-1460. Written by Jean Miélot, secretary of the duke, most of the grisaille illuminations were created by Jean Le Tavernier[136] (Fig 44). Another Burgundian illuminator, also famous for his grisailles, was Jean Dreux, Philip the Good’s valet de chambre, who was active as an illuminator between c. 1430-1467.
Inks could be used in concentrated or diluted form. Major types of black ink that were used as black pigments were: (1) soot-based inks, (2) Indian inks (3) iron-gall inks, (3) mixtures of both, and (4) dyes.

> Soot inks  Fig 45  Quote 23 / Recipe 13, Recipe 14
Inct ter noot te maeken / Dat vierde Capittel. /  Ghi sult nemen ene Was caersse ontsteectse / ende holtse tegens een becken oft schottele / tot dat vanden roock roet oft swartsel daer an / hange. Giet dan een weynich warm Gom water / daer in / ende tempereerts doer melcandere soe / ist incte.”[137]
The extremely fine particles of soot make it an ideal pigment for inks. Similar in composition, soot-based watercolours and soot-based inks cannot be differentiated. The application method and the final end product determine the attribution to one or the other – a written document would point to a soot-ink and a painting to a watercolour. Soot-based inks predominated in Islamic and Sephardic writing traditions, as well as in far Eastern cultures. While they were, and for calligraphy still are, widely applied with reed-pens and brushes, their use with quills was less habitual.
Pre-modern European ink recipes, like the quoted one by Andriessen, usually refer to soot-based inks as inks ‘to prepare in exigency’, usually if iron-gall ink was not available. It could be easily produced anywhere, which is useful while travelling. If ink was required, the smoke of a candle was collected onto a dish and mixed with dissolved gum Arabic or other binding media like egg white. The composition of the candle could vary from a cheap tallow candle, a wax candle as in the above cited recipe, but also a self-made candle from pitch/tar, as an anonymous author of the mid fifteenth century recommends: “Jte wiltu ein schwartz tinten /  machen  So nym vnn mach kertz/lin mit bech vnn zȗnd sye an / vnd vach den roch in ein bekin / als vil du machen wilt Vnd / nym denn den roch vnn temp/irn mit gumywasser vnn lasß / es denn dorren Vnd mach sy / denn aber mit gumy wasser / sy wirt gūt vnn schat den / ougen nit.”[138]  For illuminators, soot-based inks would have been easy to apply either with a quill or with their super-fine brushes, diminishing any proper distinction between watercolour and ink.

> Indian ink   Fig 46 Quote 24 / Colour sample 9
“Oosstinjenhen ink. Aan den oosstinjenhen ink en hooft / men niet anders te doen als dat men / die self met wat schoon regen / water over de steen gaet vrijven / waer door se genogh of sal gaen / omte gebruijcken of men leijt / den stuckje daar van in wat / schoon regen water tesmelte  / met den weijnigh gom oock / wel sonder gom en als dun / kan men die gemackelijck en / op verscheije mannieren gaan / gebruijcken gelijkck als hier tesien is.”[139]

Indian ink became fashionable as soon as trade brought this product to Europe (Fig 46). Many seventeenth-century limning manuals refer to Indian ink. The ink was sold in the form of hard sticks which required rubbing on a stone with water to release the intensely black ink. The use of brushes for Far Eastern calligraphy might have inspired the use of Indian ink as a watercolour in Europe.
For centuries it remained a secret how Chinese and Japanese ink makers could succeed in producing ink sticks that show such brilliant and deep black shades. Many attempts to render this black were made, usually in vain. Sources warn against fake Indian ink and include advice on how to test its quality, as in the complaint of Valentini in 1704: “Die Holländer sollen sie heut zu Tag nachmachen / aber bei weitem nicht so schön und gut; der Unterscheid ist daran zu erkennen / daß die Holländische graulicht=schwarz aussiehet und aus blatten Stückern bestehet / da hergegen die rechte Sinesische schön gläntzend schwarz und in Fingers-dicken Stücken kommet.”[140]
One difference lies in the binding medium – far Eastern inks are made with proteinaceous glues, European inks and watercolours with gum Arabic.[141] Of equal importance is the production of black pigment for ink making, which was refined through the centuries. Far Eastern ink makers were and are aware of the finest nuances in tonality that can be obtained by choosing blacks made either from particular vegetable oils or from the soot of specific conifer tree species. Selling Indian ink in the form of sticks was a clever method to prevent leaking, drying out and molding, ideal for keeping it in tropical climates and for surviving months of transport in ships.[142] Indian ink sticks were the precursor of the first European commercially traded watercolour, which were sold in the form of hard cakes, invented by Reeves in 1766.

> Iron-gall inks Fig 47 Quote 25  Recipe 15, Recipe 16
303a. Autre Recepte pour /aire encre. […] Prenes ung quarteron de noiz de galle de iiij deniers parisis et faites batre en pouldre, puis la metez en quatre et demie diaue et la faites boulir une heure et demie ou plus a beau feu de charbon et jusques atant que leaue soit revenue a la quarte ; et puis quant elle aura ainsi bouli, y mette&un quarteron de gomme de iiij deniers et plain gobelet de vin aigre ; et puis le faites boulir une autre heure et puis quant elle aura boulu, la descendez et y metez un quarteron coperose en pouldre de iij deniers parisis, et le laissiez refroidier puis metez en un cellier. Et se elle est trop clere blanche si y metez encore un pou de coperose et vous aurez bon encre.”[143]
The most frequently used ink in scriptoria and later by secular scribes was iron-gall ink. It is easily made by preparing a decoction of crushed oak galls (or substitutes like bark of alder trees[144] or other tannin-containing plant parts) together with iron sulphate (green vitriol, copperas) in a liquid like wine, beer or water. Gum Arabic is added as a dispersing agent. As a result of the chemical reaction between iron ions and tannin a dark blue-blackish liquid, an iron-gall ink, is formed. This reaction was widely known at least since late antiquity and applied not only for ink making, but also for dyeing textiles or leather black.[145] Over time iron-gall inks change their colour to brown, often distorting the original impression, especially in grisaille drawings. They flow easily from the quill and are difficult to remove, hence their success as writing and drawing ink. Many publications focus on iron gall ink therefore, they are not discussed here in depth. [146]

> Mixture of carbon-based inks and iron-gall inks
To render an ink intense black but to keep its permanence, mixtures of carbon-based and iron-gall inks were used.

> Dyes Fig 48a, Fig 48b  Quote 26 Recipe 17
“Item novvs modvs faciendi incaustum substancie. / Nemet bulsteren van walnoeten enn laetse / droghen ij off drie daghe enn laetse stoten / in een mortiersteen enn do dat in een ketel enn / laetet smelten. Dan sla dat doer een lynnen / doeck. enn doet in een pot off blase. dit is die substancie. Hijr van nym een menghe / myt wyn off etick enn water enn latet warm / werden hent dattet smelte dat wort guet.”[147]

Using dyes to make a black ink is seldomly recorded. Some authors mention the use of walnut shells, particularly in connection with substantien inkt, for instance in the quoted recipe of c. 1490. This is logical considering the abundance of black pigments that were easily available to illuminators and the lack of natural dyes that are able to reach a deep intense black.

Tab. 7: Mummy. References to black watercolour pigments in chronological order. Black: Fourteenth-fifteenth century, dark grey: Sixteenth century, light grey: Seventeenth century

Fig. 49a, 49b Quote 27 Recipe 18
“Mummian. Mummian find man nienan / dann in den Apotecken / daß ist menschen fleisch kunstlich ußgedorret unn bereittet. Gibt auch fyne harfarb und kleidungen. Ist gar nützlich zu vylen dingen. Temperiers an mit einem dünnen gummi arabico wasser.”[148]
The most sinister of all black-brown pigments is mummy, in use until the late nineteenth century,[149] but when did the application of mummy as a pigment actually start? In antique times, asphalt or bitumen was considered a particularly effective medicine which was called ‘mūm’ (wax) in Persian. The discovery that Egyptian embalmed mummies contained the coveted asphalt raised the idea that its healing properties would be enhanced through contact with a human body.[150]Ultimately, the aspect of asphalt fell into oblivion and the idea of a healing effect was transferred to the entire embalmed body, which was given the medieval Arabic name mūmiya. From Arabic medicine, knowledge of the healing properties of Egyptian mummies spread to Europe in the eleventh century. Recommended by famous physicians like e.g., Guy de Chavillac (1300-1368), mummy was established in Europe as a cure for a variety of diseases. Since almost every materia medica manuscript or early print contains an image of mummies, it is probably one of the most depicted pharmaceuticals(Fig. 49c). During the fifteenth century, their medical application extended, and at the beginning of the sixteenth century Paracelsus (1493/94 – 1541) confirmed the positive effect of mummies as a medicine. Probably before, but certainly in the middle of the sixteenth century, mummies or mummy parts could be purchased in pharmacies, as we learn from Boltz von Ruffach: The quality of mummy varied considerably since occasional bans on the export of Egyptian mummies led to an international increase in mummy forging, which also included the processing of European dead such as criminals or those who died as a result of illness. Mummy pigment is described as yielding a rather translucent dark brown colour, and was probably available already in the fifteenth century to interested artists, earlier than commonly thought.[151] It has not yet been identified as a pigment in medieval illuminations.


Fabricating watercolour paint is enjoyable and satisfying. With the right equipment, it’s quick and easy. As with all paints, watercolours consist of a colouring matter, a binding medium, a liquid vehicle and in certain cases, additives. Colouring matters are either pigments which consist of insoluble particles which are finely dispersed in a binding medium, or dyes which are dissolved. Black watercolours commonly consist of black pigments.[152] A binding medium ‘binds’ the pigment to the painting surface and is dissolved in a liquid vehicle. In the case of watercolours, this liquid is just water. The binding medium has a crucial function. Omitting a binding agent and just dispersing a pigment in water causes the paint to powder off very easily. Too much binding medium causes the formation of craquelure. The function of additives is to positively influence the properties of a paint. A typical additive for watercolour paint mentioned in historic recipes is ox gall which supports an even distribution of pigments. Another one is sugar which enhances gloss. The pigment and the binding medium must be prepared separately before they are combined to make a paint.

Of your grinding stone and muller: Preparing your pigment

Several raw materials of black pigments are very hard, for instance charred hartshorn or bone, charred fruit stones and some minerals. These materials are first crushed into smaller pieces in a brass or bronze mortar with a pestle (Fig 50a). As a next step, the rough powder is ground on a stone slate with a muller in circular movements (Fig 50b). Slates and mullers were commonly made from hard stones like porphyry.[153] Softer stones like marble rub off too quickly when processing hard materials and leave fine particles that impair the quality of the colour. Glass-slates came into use much later when glass became available in the required thickness and size at affordable prices.
Grinding the pigment with water on a stone slate can be quite exhausting and can take more than two hours for certain pigments like those derived from peach pits (Fig. 51) (FILM 1). This first grinding step has two goals. Firstly, the pigment particle size is adjusted to the desired level, and secondly the particle morphology is homogenized to create uniform particles. Through the muller you can feel when the particles are still too large which is directly related to the sound of grinding which diminishes as the particles get finer. For quality control, the pigment-water paste is rubbed between the fingertips which reveals if the particles are fine enough and whether larger particles are still present. Watercolours require very fine particles and need careful preparation. Cutting corners at the step of grinding lowers the quality of the paint considerably.

After grinding, the water-pigment suspension is then left to dry. Historic sources refer to a very clever and effective method of drying: using a chalk stone. Chalk stones have the ability to absorb the water which speeds up the drying process considerably, while the pigment particles stay at the smooth surface and can easily be removed after drying[154] (Fig. 52, Fig. 53). This step is necessary to prepare dry pigments for storage and is usually not part of the preparation of oil colours.
Historically, dry pigments are kept either in folded papers or in small boxes made from wood, bone or ivory. As Sanders puts it: “Preserve it for use in a paper, or clean Boxes.”[155]

Of Gum waters used in limning: Preparation of the binding medium

A binding medium keeps the pigment in suspension, allows for adherence to surfaces like parchment and paper, and determines the morphology and gloss of the dry paint layer. Medieval sources are quite precise on which binding media are to be used with specific pigments. In the consulted literature on watercolouring, gum water, made from gum Arabic, is by far the most common binding medium for black pigments.[156] Mainly the older, medieval recipes prescribe size or parchment glue, egg white or egg yolk for specific black pigments. In case of black pigments, the choice of the binding medium is of less importance, since most of these pigments are chemically inert. For chemically more active pigments like verdigris or lead white the binding medium matters since it can have a detrimental effect.[157] Black pigments can therefore be used with any aqueous binding media, a fact that was known to illuminators. Boltz van Ruffach advises “young arriving painters and illuminators” for example to mix their black pigments with whatever medium they want: “Temperier sy darnach an mit welcher temperatur du woellest / so hastu gar ein schoen gut schwartz”.[158]Systematically organized treatises on watercolours often contain a separate section that describes the preparation of common binding media (Fig. 54).

Ø  Gum Arabic: (Fig. 55a, 55b) Gum Arabic is left in clean water until it is dissolved. The process is faster if the water is warm. A gum Arabic solution can be stored for a few days without molding. The viscosity can be easily adjusted by adding water. Usually, illuminators had 2 concentrations of gum Arabic at hand, “the one strong, the other weak”.[159]

Ø  Parchment Glue: (Fig. 56a, 56b) Parchment glue or size is made by taking pieces of glove leather or parchment scraps, seething them in water until the liquid becomes “somewhat thicke and clammy between your fingers”[160], followed by straining the liquid through a cloth into a container. The drawback of parchment glue is that it needs to be used warm, quite impedimental for its use as a binding medium for watercolours.

Ø  Glair (Egg white): (Fig. 57a, 57b) Glair, the white of an egg, is wrung through a natural sponge until it becomes “as thin as water”.[161] The disadvantage of glair is its limited storability. It results in very homogeneous, matte paint films. RECONSTRUCTION

Ø  Egg Yolk: (Fig. 58) Egg yolk can be used directly and provides for texture and gloss. Without diluting it has quite a viscous texture. Textual sources do not refer to the use of egg yolk directly for black watercolour pigments. Either they mention the use of ‘egg’ as such, leaving open which part of the egg they refer to,[162] or they describe a more complex procedure where the egg yolk is used in combination with gum Arabic.[163]

Reconstructions showed that the binding medium influences the gloss and texture of a watercolour considerably. Learned illuminators would not only carefully choose their raw materials for black pigments, but most probably take advantage of the qualities that different binding media offer. This knowledge was probably lost with the extinction of the high art of illumination.

It is remarkable that only very few recipes for black watercolours mention the addition of specific components which alter the paint properties. In principal, a thorough tempering process is the most crucial success factor.

Ø  Ox gall: One common additive is bile, or ox gall, that is added as a dispersant which aids in the separation of particles and inhibits clumping. For instance, the use of ‘the gall of a Neat’ for the preparation of hartshorn black is prescribed in 1596.[164]

Ø  Sugar candy: Sugar increases the gloss of paint. Also, it helps to keep the colour in a shell moist, as Browne puts it: “Black. Grind Ivory with a pittance of white Sugar Candy, which will preserve it from crackling out of your shel.”[165]

Ø  Honey: Honey is deliberately added as a wetting agent, allowing the paint to retain moisture and slowing down its drying time.

Of tempering your colours: Preparation of the watercolour paint

“When you intend to worke with it [the pigment powder]. Take as much as conveniently will lye in a shell, of Mother of Pearle, neatly cleaned and burnished […] Put to this (as to all colours) a little Gum-Arabick the best and whitest; which you may have ready in powder, very fine, in a box (or else dissolved in water) and with a few drops of running water temper it with your finger to dissolve and mixe with your Colour. Discretion and Practice will direct you”.[166]
In this quote Sanderson outlines the traditional, medieval method of preparing a watercolour for limning. Pigment powder is put into a freshwater shell of Unio pictorum, the painter’s mussel, and a small amount of binding medium is added carefully. By tempering, in other words by blending pigment and binder with a clean finger, the particle size of the pigment, viscosity and homogeneity of the paint can be controlled (Fig. 59). Adding more water or binding medium adjusts the viscosity of the paint. The well-prepared watercolour should neither powder off due to lacking binding medium or form cracks as a consequence of surplus binder. Freshwater shells were used for centuries because they are ideal paint containers. Shells are easy to find in rivers and lakes, they lie perfectly in the hand, provide for a whitish background, and, in contrast to salt-containing sea-water shells, do not react with pH-sensitive paint. The amount of paint that a shell can hold is ideal for an illuminator.  Remaining paint is stored within the shell and can be used again by re-wetting. Sources advise to cover the shell to prevent contamination by dust. Larger amounts of paint were stored in horns, just as ink, and necessitated stirring before use (Fig. 60).

This makes a perfect and fine black.

Historic descriptions of how to prepare black watercolour paint are remarkably consistent. In contrast to the wealth of black pigments available, the choice of the binding medium was quite limited and in later centuries even narrowed down to gum Arabic only. The process of paint making comprises three steps – preparation of the pigment, preparation of the binding medium, and blending the pigment and binder into a watercolour paint.
Reconstructions of these steps show that all the senses are involved during the preparation. You will never forget the smoky smell of bister which brings back memories of old fireplaces and campfires, the scratching sound of grinding pigments on a stone, and the extreme sensitivity of the fingertips to test the quality of the paint. With thorough knowledge of the raw materials and processing, black watercolours can be produced in countless shades and textures.
By bringing the late medieval knowledge of black watercolours back to life, ‘A Practical Guide to the Production of Black Pigments, 1350-1700′ is written to inspire readers in multiple ways — to inform attempts to make a perfect and fine black, to dive further into the study or reworking of historic recipes, or, the next time you marvel at an original medieval illumination, to pay special attention to how the illuminator was able to create such a rich tonality in black.


Primary source
Secundary source
Number of quotes on black
De Arte illuminandi, Neapel, 1375-1400, National Library, MS XII.E.27.
In: Brunello (1992): 46-47 and Schaeffel (2007) https://www.schäffel.ch/download/pdf/qu_de_arte_illuminandi.pdf
Alcherius. De coloribus diversis. In: Le Begue, 1398-1431, Paris, BnF, MS Latin 6741.https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10525796f/f1.item
In: Merrifield, Vol 1. (1849): 300 https://books.google.nl/books?id=2xgGAAAAQAAJ&dq=mrs+merrifield&source=gbs_navlinks_s&redir_esc=y
1300 /

Liber diversarum arcium. Montpellier. 1300 /

1400-1430, Bibliothèque interuniversitaire, MS H 277. https://bvmm.irht.cnrs.fr/sommaire/sommaire.php?reproductionId=8067
In: Clarke (2011): 105 (§1.5.1), 106 (§1.6.2), 153 (§4.31.3), 154
Strasbourg Manuscript. 1400-1412
In: Neven (2016): 115
Cennini. Il Libro dell’ Arte, 1390.
In: Thompson jr. (1933): 22-23 https://www.noteaccess.com/Texts/Cennini/
Manuscripts of Jean le Begue. St. Audemar (end 13th beginning fourteenth c.?), Paris, BnF, MS Latin 6741.https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10525796f/f1.item
In Merrifield, Vol.1 (1849): 138 https://books.google.nl/books?id=2xgGAAAAQAAJ&dq=mrs+merrifield&source=gbs_navlinks_s&redir_esc=y
Manuscripts of Jean le Begue, Eraclius (1250-1300), Paris, BnF, MS Latin 6741.https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10525796f/f1.item
In Merrifield, Vol.1 (1849): 248 https://books.google.nl/books?id=2xgGAAAAQAAJ&dq=mrs+merrifield&source=gbs_navlinks_s&redir_esc=y
Manuscripts of Jean le Begue, Paris, BnF, MS Latin 6741: fol. 4v, 6v. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10525796f/f1.item
In Merrifield, Vol.1 (1849): 24, 27 https://books.google.nl/books?id=2xgGAAAAQAAJ&dq=mrs+merrifield&source=gbs_navlinks_s&redir_esc=y
Göttinger Modelbook. 1450, Göttingen, University Library, Uffenb. MS 51: fol. 6r.https://www.gutenbergdigital.de/gudi/dframes/mubu/mubufset.htm

1450 /

Liber illuministarum. Kloster Tegernsee. Munich, 1450 /

1500-1512, Staatsbibliothek, Cgm 821.
In: Bartl et al. (2005): 93
Farbenrezepte, 1451-1500, Nuernberg, GNM, Hs 181503: fol. 1r. https://dlib.gnm.de/item/Hs181503/13

Cod. Germ. 1. 1454-1463, Hamburg, Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Germ. 1: fol. 73r.https://mittelalter.hypotheses.org/files/2017/12/073r.jpg
In: Heiles (2018): no page numbers https://mittelalter.hypotheses.org/11576
Codex latinus Monacensis. 1464-1473, Tegernsee, Munich, Staatsbibliothek, Clm 20174.
In: Neven (2016): 37
Techn. und mediz. Rezepte, dt. und lat., 1475-1500, Trier, Stadtbibliothek, Hs. 1028/1959 8°: fol. 27r, 30r
In: Braekman (1997): 138, 144 https://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_ver016199701_01/_ver016199701_01_0007.php
Farbenrezepte für Buchmalerei, Kölner Musterbuch, 1490, Köln, Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln, Best. 7010 (Handschriften (Wallraf)), 293. fol. 7r https://historischesarchivkoeln.de/MetsViewer/?fileName=http%3A//historischesarchivkoeln.de%3A8080/actaproweb/mets%3Fid=6B1BAA39-991F-45E8-BC77-3065D06E7702_000208844_Orig_n_kons1_20170627110531.xml
In: Leloux (1977): 26 https://www.twentsetaalbank.nl/docs/DmB_1977-Noordoostmiddelnederlands_in_Keulen-LelouxHJ.pdf
Marciana Manuscript. 1503-1535, Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, MS lat. III. 10.
In: Merrifield, Vol. 2 (1849): 610, 618 https://books.google.nl/books?id=44RAAAAAYAAJ&dq=inauthor:%22Mary+Philadelphia+Merrifield%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s&redir_esc=y

Boltz von Ruffach. Illuminierbuch, 1549: fol. 95 ff, 115, 138, 122, 233, https://doi.org/10.3931/e-rara-5578

Piemontese. De secreten van den eerweerdighen heere Alexis Piemontois, 1558, Antwerpen: fol. 152v-153v https://books.google.nl/books?id=wpRbAAAAQAAJ&dq=Die+Secreten+VAN+DEN+EERVVEERDIGHEN+HEERE+ALEXIS+PIEMONTOIS&source=gbs_navlinks_s

A very proper treatise wherein is breefely set forth the art of limming, 1573, London: 6v, 7r https://archive.org/details/verypropertreati00lond/page/n4/mode/1up

late sixteenth c.
MS Sloane 6284. late sixteenth c., British Library.
In: Harley (1982/2001): 157
sixteenth c.,

after 1579
Recueil de recettes et secrets concernant l’art du mouleur, de l’artificier et du peintre, after 1579, Paris, BnF, MS fr. 640: fol. 51v, 58v, 59v, 60v, 63v, 158v https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10500001g
In: Making and Knowing Project. Smith et al., Secrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France. A Digital Critical Edition and English Translation of BnF Ms. Fr. 640, https://edition640.makingandknowing.org, last accessed 28 November 2020.

Barton Edmonde (attr.), 1582, London, National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum, MS 86.EE.69.
In: Harley (1982/2001): 97
Borghini. Il Riposo, 1584, Florence: 206-207. https://archive.org/details/riposodiraffaell00borg/page/n4/mode/2up

Lomazzo. Trattato dell’arte della pittvra, 1584, Milano: 99, 191-192. https://archive.org/details/trattatodellarte00loma
In: Haydocke (1598): 99, 100 https://archive.org/details/tractecontaining00loma
1585, after?
Paduan Manuscript. Bicette per far ogni sorte di colori. after 1585, Padua, University Library, MS 992.
In: Merrifield. Vol.2 (1849): 650, 700, 704. https://books.google.nl/books?id=44RAAAAAYAAJ&dq=inauthor:%22Mary+Philadelphia+Merrifield%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s&redir_esc=y
Armenini. De’ veri precetti della pittvra. 1586, https://archive.org/details/deveriprecettide00arme
In: Spring et al. (2003): 96, 110 https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/upload/pdf/spring_grout_white2003.pdf
Schone consten en secreten aengaende verlichterij, 1600-1650, Rome, Vatican Library, MS 7279: fol. 23v-25v. https://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_ver016199401_01/_ver016199401_01_0005.php#079
In: Braekman (1994): 116-117. https://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_ver016199401_01/_ver016199401_01_0005.php#079
Baten. Secreet boeck, 1600, Haarlem: p. 316, 318, 319. https://books.google.de/books?id=ZVhbAAAAQAAJ&hl=de&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Hilliard. A treatise concerning the arte of limning.
In: Thornton and Cain (1992): 90-93
Peacham. The art of dravving vvith the pen, and limming in water colours.  1606.https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A09192.0001.001/1:6.8?rgn=div2;view=fulltext
In: Early English books online, website. p. 60 https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A09192.0001.001?view=toc
Collection of Arms, etc. chapter, The Arte of Lymnynge. 1606-1612, London, British Museum, MS Stowe 680: fol. 135v.
In: Harley (1982/2001): 4
De Mayerne. Pictoria, sculptoria et quae subalternarum atrium, London, British Library, Sloane MS 2052, colour scheme: fol. 80-83. https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=sloane_ms_2052_fs001r

De Mayerne. Pictoria, sculptoria et quae subalternarum atrium, 1620-1646, London, British Library, Sloane MS 2052: fol. 95r, 29r, 18r, 97r. https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=sloane_ms_2052_fs001r

Norgate. Miniatura or the Art of Limning. 1621-1626.
In: Hardie (1919): 7, 12, 15, 93-94, 98, 101, 104,  https://archive.org/details/cu31924016785572
Bate. The Mysteryes of Nature and Art, 1634: p. 122, 126 https://archive.org/details/mysteryesofnatur00bate

Cooper d.J., in: De Mayerne. Pictoria, sculptoria et quae subalternarum atrium, 1634, London, British Library, Sloane MS 2052: fol. 79v https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=sloane_ms_2052_fs001r
In: Berger, de Mayerne (1901): 243, 245 https://digitalesammlungen.uni-weimar.de/viewer/object/PPN626184924/6/
Peacham. 1634, The Gentlemans Exercise: 71-72, 88, 90 https://archive.org/details/gri_33125008547412

Ter Bruggen. Verlichtery Kunst-Boeck. 1634, 2nd ed., Part 1, chap. 30,32  https://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/Dutch/Renaissance/Facsimiles/TerBrugghenVerlichtery1616/index.htm.

van Veen. De Wetenschap en Manieren […] het fondament der verlichterij konst. 1650-1687 MS 135 K 44, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Den Haag.

Norgate. An exact and Compendious Discours concerning the Art of Miniatura or Limning. 1648-1650, BM Harley MS 6000
In: Thornton & Cain (1992): 96-99
Jenner. Drawing limning washing, 1652: p. 28 https://www.shipbrook.net/jeff/bookshelf/details.html?bookid=13

Bate. The Mysteryes of Nature and Art, 1654, 3rd ed.: p. 153 https://books.google.de/books?id=c1zIEzZm4XsC&printsec=frontcover&hl=nl&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Sanderson. Graphice, 1658: p. 53-54, 57 https://archive.org/details/graphiceuseofpen00sand

Peacham. The compleat Gentleman, 1661: p. 367-368, 385-386 https://books.google.nl/books?id=5YJ-WYdVGmkC&hl=de&source=gbs_similarbooks

Anon. Excellency of Pen & Pencil, Limning, 1668: p. 68-69, 85, 103 https://archive.org/details/excellencyofpenp00ratc

Browne. Ars pictorial, 1669: p. 77-79, 80, 88, 95 https://archive.org/details/gri_arspictoriao00brow

Goeree. Verlichterie-kunde, 1670, 2nd ed.: p. 3, 27-29; part 2, p. 10-12 https://hdl.handle.net/1874/188396

Salmon. Polygraphice, 1672: p. 128, 138-140, 177


Felibien. Des principes de l’architecture, 1676: p. 401 https://ia600301.us.archive.org/10/items/principesdelarch00fl/principesdelarch00fl.pdf

Hoogstraten. Inleyding tot de hooge Schoole der Schilderkunst, 1678: p. 221 https://dbnl.org/tekst/hoog006inle01_01/

Mieth. Der curiose Mahler, 1679: p. 112-114 https://digitale.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/vd17/content/titleinfo/8227374#

Boogert. Klaerlightende Spiegel der Verfkonst, 1692: p. 81ff https://www.e-corpus.org/eng/notices/102464-Traité-des-couleurs-servant-à-la-peinture-à-l-eau.html


[1] Rosetti, G. 1540, see also the facsimile, modern edition and English translation by Edelstein, Borghetty and Rosetti. 1969.
[2] “Burgundian Black” Summerschool ROOTS: Research on the Origins Of Historical Techniques, University of Antwerp, 1-5 July 2019.
[3] “Black”, hands-on workshop for master students painting conservation as part of the course Art Technological Source Research, Conservation & Restoration Department, University of Amsterdam, 20 February 2020.
[4] Chylek, P. et al. 2015. ‘Soot’: p. 86–91.

[5] Another technique to achieve proper dispersion is kneading a soot-binder dough, which can take up to one hour. This is the historic production method for middle- and far Eastern soot-based inks. Reissland and Hoesel. 2019. Manuscripts from Yemen 1786-1937: Analysis of glittering particles and ink composition: p. 7.
[6] Lewis. 1763. Commerzium Philosophico-Technicum: p. 341-343.
[7] “Fumus [smoke] is a black color when it is collected as soon as it emerges from the fire of a tallow or wax candle, or from the flame of a lamp, and which is sometimes called fuscus, sometimes fuligo.” In: Le Begue. 1431. BnF MS Latin 6741: fol. 6v, table of synonyms. Transcribed in: In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 27, Translated by I. Bartusch, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften.
[8] De Arte Illuminandi, National Library Napoli, HS 1II.E.27. 1350-1400. In: Brunello. 1992. De Arte Illuminandi: p. 46-47.
[9] Büll. 1977. Das Große Buch Vom Wachs. Band 1: p. 157ff.
[10] Stuetzel. 2013. Wachs als Rohstoff, Produkt und Handelsware. PhD Thesis: p. 14.
[11] See Stuetzel. 2013: p. 32.
[12] See Stuetzel. 2013: p. 21, endnotes 151, 152.
[13] Nash. 2010. The Supply, Aquisition, Cost and Employment of Painters’ Materials at the Burgundian Court, c. 1375-1419: p. 103, tab. 1 ‘Payments for painters materials in the general, regional and local accounts for Burgundy, 1375-1416, Dijon’, 28.12.1385: wax.
[14] See Nash: p. 173-174, tab. 26 ‘Comparative prices for painters materials’.
[15] See Nash: p. 121, tab. 2 ‘Payments for painters’ materials in the Champmol accounts 1387-1404, Dijon’, 1.4.1399: wax candles.
[16] “Fumus [smoke] is a black color when it is collected as soon as it emerges from the fire of a tallow or wax candle, or from the flame of a lamp, and which is sometimes called fuscus, sometimes fuligo.”. In: Le Begue. 1431. BnF MS Latin 6741: fol. 6v, table of synonyms. Transcribed in: In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 27. Translated by I. Bartusch, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften.
[17] The Tallow Chandlers’ Company, https://www.tallowchandlers.org/about-us/our-history, last visited 16 Dec. 2020.
[18] For a reconstruction of medieval tallow lights, see tutorial: Light into the darkness – making tallow for lights, https://wh1350.at/en/tutorials-en-all/light-into-the-darkness-making-tallow-for-lights/
[19] Le Begue. 1431. BnF MS Latin 6741: fol. 6v, table of synonyms.
[20] Liber illuministarum. 1450 / 1500-1512. Munich, Staatsbibliothek, MS. Germ. 821: fol. 28r, 28v, 143r. In: Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: p. 93, 267.
[21] Merrifield. 1844. A Treatise on Painting. Written by Cennino Cennini: p. 22. See also Broecke. 2015. Cennino Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte: p. 60-61. https://books.google.nl/books?id=O5VkAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false.
[22] Liber illuministarum. 1450/1500-1512. Munich, Staatsbibliothek, MS. Germ. 821: fol. 28r, 28v, 143r. In: Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: p. 93, 267.
[23] Krünitz. 1820. Oekonomisch-Technologische Encyklopädie, Vol. 128: p. 732.
[24] “Item If thou like to temper a black paint for designing or painting. Take soft soot that grows on a cauldron or smoke hole [chimney], or other soot that is soft and good, and grind it.” Codex Germanicus 1. 1454-1463. Hamburg, Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Germ. 1: fol. 73r. Transcription in: Heiles. 2018. Die Farb- und Tintenrezepte des Cod. germ. 1: p. 13-61.
[25] Translations into English are, unless otherwise stated, by B. Reissland.
[26] “From the cleaned soot. But if you want to make cleaned soot, then take as much of the small brown soot lumps as you want and put them in lye and let them boil down by a third and then leave the pot covered, then the impurities will all fall to the bottom and the water above has a beautiful fine hair colour, which you can also brush on. And when you want to use the water, pour as much as you need out of the pot and add gum so that the colour becomes shiny. And paint whatever you want and use it to shade garments or stone mountains, because it is good for painting many things and for various shading.” Haller. 1478. Berner Farbrezepte, Colmarer Kunstbuch, Bern, Burgerbibliothek, Cod. Hist. Helv. XII 45: 130-131. Transcript and normalized version in: Oltrogge, Datenbank mittelalterlicher und frühneuzeitlicher kunsttechnologischer Rezepte in handschriftlicher Überlieferung, FH Köln, Institut für Restaurierungs- und Konservierungswissenschaften. Available at: https://db.cics.th-koeln.de/start.fau?& (acc. 13.02.2020, lemma ‘Russ”)
[27] Le Begue. 1431. BnF MS Latin 6741: fol. 6v, table of synonyms.
[28] Strassbourg manuscript. 1400-1412: recipe 50. In: Neven. 2016. The Strasbourg Manuscript: p. 115.
[29] Reissland and Smulders. 2020. Bistre / Glanzruss: GC-MS analysis of components, Research Report No. 2020-070.
[30] Le Begue. 1431. BnF MS Latin 6741: fol. 4v, table of synonyms.
[31] Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch: p. xlv-xlvi.
[32] Braekman. 1997. Warenkennis, Kleurbereidingen Voor Miniaturisten En Vakkennis Voor Ambachtslui (15de E.): p. 138, rec. 35.
[33] Reissland. 2021. Black Colour Technologies for Illuminators, 1350-1700. LINK
[34] “Pine-soot black is known to everyone.” Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch: p. 98
[35] Another ‘lampblack’ was sold under the same name, but was produced by burning resin, not wood (see, soot of coniferous resins, noire de Paris).
[36] According to Krünitz, Sweden joint in the lampblack trade as late as 1651. Krünitz. 1820. Oekonomisch-Technologische Encyklopädie, Vol. 128: p. 738.
[37] “Spruce is a most exquisite wood, which is especially consumed for this purpose in China because of the beautiful blackness which it yields when it is burned. There are immense forests of this type of wood in China, especially in the district of the city of Hoei = tcheou in the province of Klangnan.” As Krünitz describes, the Chinese also had specially built ovens for the production of soot from resinous wood. In: Krünitz. 1820. Oekonomisch-Technologische Encyklopädie, Vol. 128: p. 732.
[38] Hartwig and Rosenthal, eds. 1793. Technologisches Wörterbuch oder alphabetische Erklaerung aller nuetzlichen mechanischen Kuenste, Manufakturen, Fabriken und Handwerker: p. 252.
[39] The mass-production in Thuringia continued in the nineteenth century and reached 250 000 vats just from one village, Elgersburg. See: Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, Statistisches Bureau. 1866. Mittheilungen aus dem Statistischen Büreau des Herzogl. Staats-Ministeriums zu Gotha über Landes- und Volkskunde, besonders bezüglich des Herzogthums Gotha. 2. Theil, 3. Heft: p. 720.
[40] Liber illuministarum. 1450 / 1500-1512. Munich, Staatsbibliothek, MS. Germ. 821: fol. 93r. In: Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee:: 154-155.
[41] “But if you don’t find any soot, take birch bark and burn it in a fire and cover this with a small pot or a glazed earthenware vessel, so the smoke must touch it. The soot that grows on it is quite good.” In: Codex Germanicus 1. 1454-1463. Hamburg, Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Germ. 1: fol. 73r. also in: Heiles (2018): p. 13-61.
[42] Birch tar, extracted from birch bark, was fabricated as early as the Middle Pleistocene, when it was used as an adhesive. See Mazza et al. 2006. A New Palaeolithic Discovery: Tar-Hafted Stone Tools in a European Mid-Pleistocene Bone-Bearing Bed: p. 1310–18.
[43] “Item Make a big light from tallow in a pan and light it and split a stick and put incense in between and hold it under a basin which is put over it and burn the incense in the light, so soot will settle on the basin, brush it off with a feather. Take resin from Arabia (gum Arabic) and put it in water that it dissolves and then mix it with it, it becomes a beautiful, wonderful color with which you can color whatever you want.” Hs 181503. 1451-1500. Nuremberg, Germanisches National Museum, Hs 181503: fol. 1r.
[44] Hs 181503. 1451-1500. Nuremberg, Germanisches National Museum, Hs 181503: fol. 1r.
[45] Liber illuministarum. 1450/1500-1512. Munich, Staatsbibliothek, MS. Germ. 821: fol. 28r,v / 143r. In: Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: p. 93, 267. Includes the same recipe in both of its parts.
[46] The size of half an egg, Liber illuministarum (1450 / 1500-1512): fol. 28r and 143r. In: Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: p. 92-93, 266-267.
[47] “Item to make soot-black. Take a thick wick from coarse ropes like a swan feather, and pinch resin around it like a candle and put it under a basin that has been very neatly scrubbed, overturned on 3 half bricks; and if you want to have the whole thing [vole = complete?], you can place iiij pieces of resin on a jug or a latel [?] pan around the candle and let it fully burn, and then sweep it off the basin and grind it with water as long as Rubrijk. And put it on chalk and let it dry and put it in a box.” In: Kölner Musterbuch. 1490. Köln, Historisches Archiv der Stadt, Best. 7010 (Wallraf) 293: fol. 7r.

[48] Jehan le Begue (1431), citing Eraclius ‘De coloribus et artibus Romanorum’ liber III. In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 248.
[49] This process should be not mistaken for the soot production from resinous wood which took place directly in regions rich in hardwood. Burning residues of resins, tar or pitch could be carried out elsewhere.
[50] Tingry. 1804. The Painter and Varnisher’s Guide: p. 51.
[51] Krünitz. 1820. Oekonomisch-Technologische Encyklopädie, Vol. 128: p. 728-729.
[52] An excellent source on the historic production of pitch and tar is Wiesenhavern. 1793. Abhandlung über das Theer-oder Pechbrennen.
[53] Marciana Manuscript. 1503-1535. Biblioteca Marciana di Venezia, It.III. 10. In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 2: p. 610, 618.
[54] Anonymous. 1596. A Very Proper Treatise Wherein Is Breefely Set Forth the Art of Limming: fol. 6v, 7r.
[55] The quote might also refer to a piece of pine wood, which was a common torch-like illuminant, not impregnated with pith or tar because it contained enough resin to burn effectively (ger: Kienspan). Clarke. 2011. The Medieval Painter’s Materials and Techniques: The Montpellier Liber Diversarum Arcium: p. 106, 251 (§1.6.2).
[56] Joosten. 2004. Technology of Early Historical Iron Production in the Netherlands. Dissertation: p. 133.
[57] Reidsma et al. 2016. Charred Bone: p. 282 – 292.
[58] Braadbaart and Poole. 2008. Morphological, Chemical and Physical Changes during Charcoalification of Wood: p. 2434 – 2445.
[59] Chylek et al. 2015. Soot: p. 57.
[60] Depending on the plant and the soil as a major source of nutrients, characteristic elements remain after charring, for instance potassium, aluminum and magnesium as well as trace elements. For animal-based chars, calcium and phosphor are marker elements.
[61] “Coal black. Of charcoal one makes a blue or gray black / rub it well and let it dry on the chalk.” Anonymous. 1600-1650. Schoone consten ende secreten, Rome, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms. Lat. 7279: fol. 25r; see also Braekman. 1994. Antwerpse ‘consten ende secreten’ voor verlichters en ‘afsetters’ van gedrukte prenten: p. 117.
[62] le Begue. 1431. citing Eraclius ‘De coloribus et artibus Romanorum’ liber III. In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 138
[63] le Begue. 1431. Paris, BnF, MS Latin 6741: fol. 4v.
[64] Le Begue. 1431. Archerius. “De diversis coloribus” (1398-1411). In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 300; and Recueil de recettes et secrets concernant l’art du mouleur, de l’artificier et du peintre. After 1579. Paris, BnF, MS fr. 640: fol. 58v, 59v, 63v.
[65] Clarke. 2011. The Medieval Painter’s Materials and Techniques: The Montpellier Liber Diversarum Arcium: p. 105 (§1.5.1A eng., char of willow and vine), 251 (§1.5.1, lat.), 174 (reference to nigrum optimum). See also Reissland. 2014. Why do Artists Prefer Vine or Willow Charcoal?.
[66] Amongst others, Le Begue. 1431. Paris, BnF, MS Latin 6741: fol. 4v, MS Sloane 6284. late sixteenth c. B.M. MS Sloane 6284. In: Harley. 1982/2001. Artists’ Pigments c.1600-1835: p. 157 and Haydocke 1598. A Tracte […] translation of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Trattato del arte della pittura, scultura ed architettura: 100.
[67] Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: p. 517.
[68] Mayerne. 1620-46. Mayerne Manuscript, London, British Library, MS Sloane 2052: fol. 79v.
[69] Another method can be found in Piemontese, who advises to let the pits and shells directly burn on a coal fire but stop the process in time, which is rather an incomplete burning. “laetse opte colen verbranden: ende alsse wel root zyn / ende wel gheloeyende / so neemptse vanden viere / ende aldus te colen verbrandt / sult ghyse in een panne bewaren.” Piemontese. 1561. De secreten van den eerweerdighen heere Alexis Piemontois: fol. 111r.
[70] “So take peach kernels / put them in a new pot / and put a fitting lid on them / the lid should be sealed so that no steam comes out / otherwise the kernels would become completely ash. Bring the pot to a potter who is going to a kiln / so that he adds it to the other pottery in the oven. When he finished burning / so take the pot and open it, then the stones are coal black. These pound in a mortar very small / and grind long and well / on a stone / until they are no longer rough. Then temper it with which binder you want / so you have a nice good black.” In: Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch: p. xcvii-xciii.
[71] Cennini. c. 1400. In: Broecke.2015. Cennino Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte: p. 60-61; Merrifield. 1844. A Treatise on Painting. Written bu Cennino Cennini in 1434: p. 21-22.
[72] le Begue. 1431. citing Eraclius ‘De coloribus et artibus Romanorum’. In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 138.
[73] Mayerne. 1620-42. Mayerne Manuscript, London, British Library, MS Sloane 2052: fol. 29r. In: Berger. 1901. Beiträge Zur Entwicklungs-Geschichte Der Maltechnik: p.150,151.
[74] E.g. Hilliard. 1602-03. A treatise concerning the arte of limning: p. 70-73, Norgate. 1621-26. An exact and Compendious Discours concerning the Art of Miniatura or Limning: p. 7, Sanderson. 1658. Graphice, the use of the pen and pensil: p. 57.
[75] Peacham. 1634. The Gentlemans Exercise: p. 71.
[76] Cennini. c. 1400. in: Broecke. 2015. Cennino Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte: p. 60-61; Merrifield. 1844. A Treatise on Painting. Written bu Cennino Cennini in 1434: p. 21-22.
[77] Piemontese. 1561. De secreten van den eerweerdighen heere Alexis Piemontois: p. 110-111.
[78] “Black from Germany. It comes from Frankfurt, Mainz, & Strasbourg, as black stone & powder, which is burnt wine lees & thrown in water & after being dried we pass it through special mills”, in: Pomet. 1694. Histoire générale des drogues, traitant des plantes, des animaux. Livre VII, Chapt. LXXII: p. 256.
[79] ‘burnt vine pomace or vine kernels’ In: Hoogstraaten. 1678. Inleyding Tot de Hooge Schoole Der Schilderkonst: p. 221.
[80] Stijnman. 2010. Frankfurt Black: p. 415–425.
[81] Krünitz. 1801. Oekonomisch-Technologische Encyklopädie, Vol. 56: p. 231.
[82] According to Reitsma, ‘bone mineral’ is a hydrated hydroxyl-depleted carbonated calcium phosphate phase which is closely related to the geological hydroxyapatite, but has some important chemical differences. Reidsma et al. 2016. Charred bone: p. 283.
[83] Reidsma et al. 2016. Charred Bone: Table 1, p. 289 and p. 288 (XRD)
[84] Cruttenden. 2016. Fire & Bone. Poster.
[85] “The best of all blacks, which can be spread the best and with which one can even glaze, is ivory black, or that prepared from the foot bones of sheep. These, in pieces, are put in a crucible, which is well covered with a brick and the seams tightly sealed so that no air can penetrate, and put the whole thing on a strong fire, not longer than an hour, (otherwise the bones will bleach) and thus the mass is burned to a perfect black.” This quotation refers to the preparation of sheep bone black for oil paint, but since the preparation method is the same for pigments for watercolours it is included here. In: Mayerne. 1620-46. Mayerne Manuscript, London, British Library, MS Sloane 2052: folio 93r. https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=sloane_ms_2052_f93r (transl. in Fels, Donald C., Lost Secrets of Flemish Painting: Including the First Complete English Translation of the De Mayerne Manuscript, B.M. Sloane 2052. Rev. ed. Floyd (VA): Alchemist, ed. 2010.
[86] Cennini. c. 1400. In: Broecke, Cennino Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte: A New English Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription, 28-29 (Chapter 7); Merrifield. 1844. A Treatise on Painting. Written bu Cennino Cennini in 1434: Chapt. 7, p. 5
[87] Bone-white coatings were for instance confirmed to be present in the silver/goldpoint drawings by Jan van Eyck, and metal point drawings by Albrecht Dürer. Its abrasiveness was the precondition for drawing lines. Wallert et al. 2016. Notes on the Material Aspects (Metal Point): p. 25–35 and Reiche et al. 2001. Non-Destructive Investigation of Dürer’s Silver Point Drawings by SyXRF’.
[88] This is recorded in The Göttingen Model Book’. c. 1450. Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, MS. Uffenb. 51: fol. 6r. The internet-transcription reads ‘kyn swarz’ (Kienschwarz) = pine soot black. However, paleographically it is more likely that it means ‘byn swarz’ (Beinschwarz) = bone black and is included under this term here. https://www.gutenbergdigital.de/gudi/dframes/texte/frameset/indxmubu.htm.
[89] Liber illuministarum. 1450/1500-1512. Munich, Staatsbibliothek, MS. Germ. 821: I, 2v, 143r. In: Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: 420-421 [1332, 1333].
[90] Recueil de recettes, after 1579, Paris, BnF, MS fr. 640: fol. 58v, 158v https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10500001g/f322.item, for translation see Making and Knowing Project. Smith et al., A Digital Critical Edition and English Translation of BnF Ms. Fr. 640https://edition640.makingandknowing.org/#/folios/158v/f/158v/tc
[91] Liber illuministarum. 1450/1500-1512. Munich, Staatsbibliothek, MS. Germ. 821: I, 2v, 143r. In: Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: 420-421 [1332, 1333].
[92] Mayerne. 1620-46. Mayerne Manuscript, London, British Library, MS Sloane 2052: fol. 130r, see: https://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=sloane_ms_2052_f130r, last accessed 17 November 2020. The first German edition of this manuscript has numerous errors that have been corrected here. For instance, ‘kurfürstlich’ was wrongly translated as a surname ‘Cheufs’, missing the link to Cranach. Berger. 1901. Quellen für Maltechnik während der Renaissance und deren Folgezeit […] Nebst dem de Mayerne Manuskript: p. 304. The binding medium is linseed oil however, the preparation method of the pigment is the same for watercolours.
[93] Smith. 1687. The Art of Painting in Oyl: 18. https://archive.org/details/artofpaintingino00smit.
[94] Codex Latinus Monacensis. c.1464–1473. Clm. 20174. In: Neven. 2016. The Strasbourg Manuscript: p. 35.
[95] Hoogstraaten. 1678. Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst: p. 221.
[96] Cennini. c. 1400. in, Merrifield. 1844. A Treatise on Painting. Written by Cennino Cennini in 1434: p. 21. A more recent translation is published by Broecke, Cennino Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte: A New English Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription: Chapter 37, p. 60.
[97] De Arte Illuminandi, National Library Napoli, HS 1II.E.27. 1350-1400. In: Brunello. 1992. De Arte Illuminandi: p. 46, 47
[98] “This black is made from booklets which contained beaten gold or silver. One should ignite these books with a candle, and let it burn. If they are completely burnt, one should let them fall into a clean bowl with water. Afterwards grind it and let it dry on chalk”, Anonymous. 1600-1650. Schoone consten ende secreten, Rome, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms. Lat. 7279: fol. 24r, 24v. See https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.lat.7279; here cited after Braekman. 1994. Antwerpse ‘consten ende secreten’ voor verlichters en ‘afsetters’ van gedrukte prenten: p. 116.
[99] Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch: p. cxvii-cxviii
[100] Lewis. 1763. Commerzium Philosophico-Technicum: p. 49.
[101] Nash. 2010. The Supply, Aquisition, Cost and Employment of Painters’ Materials at the Burgundian Court, c. 1375-1419: p. 101-124 , tab.1 and tab.2; 134-136, tab. 4.
[102] Weiss. 1983. Zeittafel Zur Papiergeschichte: p. 58, 59.
[103] “Bread black. White bread is burned between red-hot coals until everything is black, and then grind it finely on a stone, and add salt the size of half a bean, with as much pounded gum and wine, and grind it at least half an hour, and then put it in a shell, and let it dry until you want to use it and then temper it with clean water, and if you want it brown, then mix it with the water from the sluice, and it will be fine.” In: Veen. 1650-1687. De Wetenschap en[de] Manieren: Without page.
[104] Boogert. 1692. Klaer lightende Spiegel der Verfkonst, Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, MS 1389 (1228): Without page number.

[105] “Black from Luik/Liège. You can also make good black coal if you grind it well with clean water / and process it with clean gum water. This is very good black for painting woolen fabrics and is also called blacksmith-coal black.” Anonymous. 1600-1650. Schoone consten ende secreten, Rome, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms. Lat. 7279: fol. 24v, 25r. https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.lat.7279, last accessed 9 November 2020; here cited after Braekman. 1994. Antwerpse ‘consten ende secreten’ voor verlichters en ‘afsetters’ van gedrukte prenten: p. 116.
[106] Veen. 1650-1687. De Wetenschap en[de] Manieren: Without page.

[107] “So grind coal with water”, Hs.1028/1959 8°. end of fifteenth century – beginning of sixteenth century, Stadtbibliothek Trier: fol. 27r. In: Braekman. 1997. Warenkennis, Kleurbereidingen Voor Miniaturisten En Vakkennis Voor Ambachtslui (15de E.): 138, rec. 37.
[108] Galloway. 1882. A history of coal mining in Great Britain: p. 11ff.
[109] Galloway. 1882. A history of coal mining in Great Britain: p. 20 ff.
[110] Galloway. 1882. A history of coal mining in Great Britain: p. 24 cites Howes 1631 without providing a reference.
[111] Bate. 1654. The Mysteries of Nature and Art: p. 163.
[112] “Smith coal is nothing else than that of the blacksmith or brewer’s coal; and grind it with clean rainwater; that one must temper with fairly short gum water and is then reasonably fluid to use in several ways, as seen here.” Boogert. 1692. Klaer lightende Spiegel der Verfkonst, Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, MS 1389 (1228): Without page number.
[113] Goeree. 1670. Verlichterie-Kunde: p. 3. https://hdl.handle.net/1874/188396.
[114] Haydocke. 1598. A Tracte Containing The Artes […] Translation of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Trattato Del Arte Della Pittura, Scultura Ed Architettura, 1584: p. 99. https://archive.org/details/tractecontaining00loma.
[115] Le Begue. 1431. BnF MS Latin 6741: fol. 10r, table of synonyms.
[116] Spear. 2010. A Century of Pigment Prices: Seventeenth Century Italy: p. 286, Table A-1, Blacks.
[117] Campbell. 2010. Suppliers of Artists’ Materials to the Burgundian Court: p. 183–85
[118] Broecke. 2015. Cennino Cennini’s Il libro dell’arte: A New English Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription: Chapter 34, p. 55-56.
[119] Le Begue. 1431. BnF MS Latin 6741: fol. 10r, table of synonyms.
[120] Anonymous. 1573. A Very Proper Treatise: f. 6r https://archive.org/details/verypropertreati00lond/page/n4/mode/1up.
[121] Gessner. 1565. De Omni Rerum Fossilium Genere: fol. 104v https://digital.slub-dresden.de/werkansicht/dlf/4362/1/0/.
[122] Bate. 1634. The Mysteryes of Nature and Art: p. 122. https://archive.org/details/mysteryesofnatur00bate/page/122/mode/2up
[123] Ricciardi and Beers. 2016. The Illuminators’ Palette: p. 35.
[124] Trentelman and Turner. 2009. Investigation of the Painting Materials and Techniques of the Late-15th Century Manuscript Illuminator Jean Bourdichon: p. 577–84.
[125] Ricciardi and Beers. 2016. The Illuminators’ Palette: p. 35.
[126]  REFERENCE TO E. HERMENS contribution. Mariani manuscript, Leiden University Library, Voss. Germ. Gall. 15, Della Miniatura di Valerio Mariani…., fol. 13r-v. E. Hermens is preparing a fully annotated edition of this manuscript.
[127] Borghini. 1584. Il Riposo Di Raffaello Borghini: p. 207 https://archive.org/details/riposodiraffaell00borg/page/n4/mode/2up.
[128] Armenini. 1587. referred to in Pigment Compendium. 2008: p. 86.
[129] “To prepare black kupferlot from kupferlot. Take one lot of pure Hammerschlag (residual iron particles after forging), and one lot of kupfferäschen (copper ash, pulverized black copper (II) oxide, crocus veneris), two lot of Schmelzglas (ground glass). Grind it all together, until it has no sandy smoke [?], but you should grind it on a copper plate, temper it with gum water, with this you can shade all light colors, but especially white color.” In: Benzinger. After 1549. Illuminier Buch Künstlich Alle Farben Zumachen, handwritten copy of Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch), GNM Nürnberg, Ms 32075: fol. 34r. https://digilib.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/digitallibrary/jquery/digilib.html?fn=/experimental/ARB/ARB_PRIMARY_SOURCES/ARB_manuscripts/MS_580/pageimg.
[130] Scholz. 2001. Monumental Stained Glass in Southern Germany in the Age of Dürer: p. 17.
[131] Bol. 2013. Seeing Through the Paint.
[132] Straub. 1984. Tafel- und Tüchleinmalerei Des Mittelalters.
[133] Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch: p. 96-97. https://doi.org/10.3931/e-rara-5578.
[134] Clarke. 2011. The Medieval Painter’s Materials and Techniques: The Montpellier Liber Diversarum Arcium.
[135] “Grey color. Take a lot of good rubric and good ink, put them in a horn and let it stand for a night.” Hs.1028/1959 8°. end of fifteenth century – beginning sixteenth century. Stadtbibliothek Trier: fol. 28r. In: Braekman. 1997. Warenkennis, Kleurbereidingen Voor Miniaturisten En Vakkennis Voor Ambachtslui (15de E.): p. 140, rec. 50.
[136] Royal Library the Hague, https://www.kb.nl/themas/middeleeuwen/getijdenboek-philips-van-bourgondie
[137] “To make ink in need. Chapter four. Take a wax candle, light it and hold it against a bowl or a dish until soot or the black from the soot sticks to it. Then pour a little warm gum water into it and temper it so it’s ink.” In: Andriessen. 1552. Viervoudich Tractaet Boeck: fol. 40. https://books.google.nl/books?id=wZNiAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=de#v=onepage&q&f=false.
[138] “Item If you want to make a black ink, take and make a candle with pitch. Light it and catch as much smoke as you want in a basin. Then take the soot and mix it with gum water and let it dry. Use gum water to prepare the ink. It is good and does not harm the eyes.” Codex Germanicus 1. 1454-1463. Hamburg, Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Germ. 1: fol. 71r https://mittelalter.hypotheses.org/files/2017/12/073r.jpg
[139] “With regard to Indian ink one does not need to do anything else, than to grind it with some clean rainwater on a stone, so that enough will come off to be used; or put a piece of it in some clean rainwater to melt with a little gum, also without gum; and then one can use it easily and in different ways as can be seen here.” Boogert. 1692. Klaer lightende Spiegel der Verfkonst, Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, MS 1389 (1228): Without page number.
[140] “The Dutch imitate it today, but nowhere near as beautifully and well. The difference can be recognized in so far that that the Dutch looks grayish = black and consists of flat pieces, whereas the real Chinese comes in beautiful shiny black and in finger-thick pieces.” In: Valentini. 1704. Museum museorum: p. 23 https://archive.org/details/museummuseorumo00vale/page/n0.
[141] Reissland and Hoesel. 2019. Manuscripts from Yemen – Analysis of Glittering Particles and Ink Composition. RCE Research report 2016–027a.
[142] Also, other ink cultures searched for ways to preserve their ink. Middle Eastern ink was dried as cakes. The European alternative was to carry inks as powder that could be mixed with any liquid available, like beer, wine or water to create a writing ink.
[143] “Take a quarter of a pound of gall-nuts of the weight of iiij. Parisian deniers, and let them be beaten to powder. Put it [the powder] into a quart and a half of water, and let it boil for an hour and a half or more on a good charcoal fire until the water is reduced to a quart ; and when it has thus boiled put into it a quarter of a pound of gum of the weight of iiij. Parisian deniers and a cup full of vinegar; and then make it boil another hour, and when it has boiled, take it off and put into it a quarter of a pound of copperas in powder of the weight of iij. Parisian deniers, and let it cool, and then put it into an inkstand. And if it is too pale add to it a little more copperas, and you will have good ink.” In: Le Begue, 1431, BnF, MS Latin 6741, fol. 92r https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10525796f/f188.item
[144] Archerius mentions the use of alder bark: “Or take the bark of alder and grind it with iron filings in water” In: Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 300.
[145] See essays on dyeing in part III of this volume.
[146] Reissland and Ligterink, The iron gall ink website. https://irongallink.org
[147] “Item A new mode to make substantie ink. Take walnut husks and let them dry for 2 or three days and pound them in a stone mortar and put that in a cauldron and let it melt. Then strain it through a linen cloth and put it into a pot or a bladder. That is the substantie. Take an amount of this with wine or vinegar and water and let it get warm so that it dissolves. This is going to be good.” In: Kölner Musterbuch. 1490. Köln, Historisches Archiv der Stadt, Best. 7010 (Wallraf) 293: fol. 4v
[148] “Mummian is nowhere to be found but in pharmacies. It is human meat artificially parched and prepared. It also makes fine hair color and clothes. Useful for many things. Grind it with a thin gum arabic water.” In: Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch: p. 97.
[149] For chemical characterization of nineteenth century mummy samples see: Languri 2004. Molecular Studies of Asphalt, Mummy and Kassel Earth Pigments, dissertation: chapter 3.  https://dare.uva.nl/search?identifier=9576cd3b-89a2-456f-9cb2-42f4aa2ee8d1.
[150] Wiedemann, a German Egyptologist, provides an extensive overview of the use and adulteration of medical mummy through the centuries:  Wiedemann. 1906. Mumie Als Heilmittel: p. 1–36. https://archive.org/details/zeitschriftdesv01elbegoog/page/n16/mode/2up.
[151] McCouat. 2013. The life and death of Mummy Brown. www.artinsociety.com
[152] Some pigments like bister can contain soluble, coloured substances that act as a dye.
[153] Peacham. 1634. The Gentlemans Exercise: p. 65.
[154] Anonymous. 1668. The Excellency of the Pen and Pencil: p. 70. https://archive.org/details/excellencyofpenp00ratc.
[155] Sanderson. 1658. Graphice, the Use of the Pen and Pensil: p. 55.
[156] Link to article in Chapter 12 Reissland, Table 2
[157] De Mayerne notes for example on pigments used in oil that the greenish pigment verd de gris (copper green) is such an ‘enemy to other colors, that it kills them all’, Mayerne. 1620-46. Mayerne MS, London, British Library, MS Sloane 2052: fol. 4r: “Le verd de gris (dont on se sert seulement pour glacer) est tellement ennemy des aultres couleurs, qu’il les tue toutes, specialement la Cendre d’Azur.”
[158] “Then mix them with a binding medium of your choice / so you get a beautiful good black”, in: Boltz von Ruffach. 1549. Illuminier Buoch: p. xcviij. https://doi.org/10.3931/e-rara-5578.
[159] Salmon. 1673. Polygraphice: p. 94. https://www.shipbrook.net/jeff/bookshelf/details.html?bookid=22.
[160] Anonymous. 1596. A very proper treatise wherein is breefely set forth the art of limming: fol. 2v. https://archive.org/details/verypropertreati00impr/page/n6.
[161] Anonymous. 1596. A very proper treatise wherein is breefely set forth the art of limming: fol. 3v.
[162] Le Begue in Merrifield. 1849. Original Treatises, Dating from the XIIth to the XVIIIth Centuries, Vol. 1: p. 138.
[163] Bartl et al. 2005. Der “Liber illuministarum” aus Kloster Tegernsee: p. 93.
[164]Neat is a term for cattle of the bovine genus, like bulls or oxen. Here ox gall is referred to. Anonymous. 1596. A very proper treatise wherein is breefely set forth the art of limming: fol. 7r. https://archive.org/details/verypropertreati00impr/page/n6.
[165] Browne. 1669. Ars Pictoria: p. 80. https://archive.org/details/gri_arspictoriao00brow.
[166] The use of gum Arabic powder is unusual, since the gum needs time to swell in water and therefore it would not result in a good water colour. More common is the addition of gum Arabic which is already dissolved in water. Sanderson. 1658. Graphice, the Use of the Pen and Pensil: p. 55. https://archive.org/details/graphiceuseofpen00sand.