Jean Corbechon, Livre des propriétés des choses

Painting the flesh

Artists' Techniques

The Mazarine Master applied flesh tones over a light pink base layer, containing lead white and variable quantities of vermilion. He used a range of earth pigments to delineate shadows, and short parallel strokes of vermilion red to define noses, cheeks and mouths, and often eyebrows and foreheads. Facial features were further outlined in brown or black.

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Detail of the master’s face under magnification (20x).
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Detail of the purple robe under magnification (40x), showing blue and translucent red particles.
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Detail of the grey robe under magnification (40x), showing sparse black particles in a white matrix.
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Detail of a hybrid creature under magnification (7.5x). The red pigments in his hat and sleeves have degraded and darkened over time.

Seated at a lectern with an open book, the master instructs three men. While one faces forward, concentrating on the lesson, two turn away to observe a rainbow, a phenomenon discussed in the text. Apart from a slim band of red and a larger band of yellow, the individual colours of the rainbow are not distinguished. Figures in the border include hybrid creatures and a dragon.