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Published by: ionserbaneci on Jun 29, 2011
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As historical climatologists have not shown that Renaissance Italian winters and springs were warmer
than they are now, it is puzzling that Italy did not fabricate tapestries to decorate and draught-proof the
stony rooms of its palaces until 1545, when Cosimo I set up a manufactory in Florence. To hardiness or
stinginess (tapestry was by far the most expensive form of wall decoration) we owe the existence of such
secular frescoed decorative schemes as the labours of the months in the castle at Trent (c. 1407), the
Arthurian scenes of Pisanello and the courtly ones of Mantegna in the Ducal Palace of Mantua, the
delicious calendar fantasies of Cossa and others in the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara - and, doubtless,
many others that await liberation from whitewash or later panelling. These are all in situations where
northern patrons would have used tapestries.

These were imported, chiefly from Flanders, into Italy. The influence of their hunting and ceremonial
scenes in particular registered on Italian 'gothic' painting or illumination and stained glass, and in
literature. But the Italians did not make them. The most famous of all 'Italian' tapestries, those for the
Sistine Chapel designed by Raphael, were made in Brussels from the full-scale coloured patterns, or
cartoons, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Nor is it clear whether imported tapestries
were used habitually or simply to add grandeur to special occasions. Even when Cosimo's manufactory
was in being, and working from designs by court artists of the calibre of Bronzino, Salviati and Allori, his
own headquarters, the Palace of the Signoria (now the Palazzo Vecchio), was being decorated with
frescoes. The subject is underexplored.

tempera (Lat. temperare, "to mix in due proportion")

A method of painting in which the pigments are mixed with an emulsion of water and egg yolks or whole
eggs (sometimes glue or milk). Tempera was widely used in Italian art in the 14th and 15th centuries,
both for panel painting and fresco, then being replaced by oil paint. Tempera colors are bright and
translucent, though because the paint dried very quickly there is little time to blend them, graduated tones
being created by adding lighter or darker dots or lines of color to an area of dried paint.

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