The name of Cennino Cennini is remembered not for his pictures, which have mostly perished, but for writing a treatise for artists, Il libro dell’arte. Born near Florence, he was apprenticed for 12 years to Agnolo Gaddi, a follower of Giotto. After his master’s death he went to Padua, married a lady of good position, and spent there the rest of his life. It was in Padua that he composed his treatise.
Il libro dell’arte is a handbook for artists with information on painting techniques as well as lifestyle advice. The successful artist needs to have a lofty spirit and manifest enthusiasm, obedience, and constancy. He should regulate his way of living as carefully as a student of theology or philosophy, and must eat at least twice a day, confining himself to digestible food and light wine. He is advised to avoid the company of women, which is apt to render the hand unsteady, and also spare his hand by not lifting heavy objects or throwing stones. He should find a good teacher and stay with him rather than wander from one teacher to another. Every day he must “draw, draw, draw.”