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Fourth Part.

SECTION THIRD.

OF THE PAINTING UPON, AND THE COLORING OF MARBLES.

OF PAINTING UPON MARBLES.

113. We may be able, by new processes, to facilitate the painting or the coloring of Marbles, but we shall probably never surpass the effects which the ancients obtained, by methods which are now unknown to us.

Upon this point, our tastes differ widely from those of former times, and this is probably owing to the enfranchisement of the people. When the kings held immense numbers of slaves, they could easily undertake those difficult and tedious works, which they could not have imposed on freemen. The great aim of the slaves was to obey their masters and to satisfy them-the time they counted as little. The great aim of the workmen of the present day is, to provide for their own wants and those of their families; time is everything to them, and the less of it they employ in the execution of work the more they gain thereby.

The painting of the ancients upon Marbles was executed by the same means as the mosaics, in which they employed cubes after having dipped them in colors.

The following process is now in use, according to M. Lisbonne:

"Take a slab of Marble of dimensions analogous to the painting to be made. Commence by properly laying out your design, and, when it is finished, use a sheet of vegetable paper for reversing the tracing; but in order that it may be more clearly reproduced upon the Marble, rub the under part of this paper with red or black crayon; then press upon the lines of the drawing as forcibly as possible with a spatula, and the Marble which is to represent the painting will thus receive a good impression. You then, with a brush, surround this design with any was in a fluid state, but which, when placed on the Marble, will soon solidify. This hinders the acids from spreading over the Marble and defacing it; it also preserves the natural color and polish of those parts of the Marble which bear no design.

114. "Yet, although this process can be used for Marbles which are polished in advance, experience has demonstrated that it is a much better plan to work upon Marbles which have only been rubbed with the pumice-stone, and to which the polish and lustre are not given until the painting has been entirely finished.

"The outline upon the Marble being surrounded with wax, has just been explained, it is then necessary-in order to complete the cares demanded in this operation, and to give to the design, and, consequently, to the painting, all the necessary distinctness-to rectify the interior; that is, to free it from any wax which may have lodged there, and to cover over any parts, however small, which may need it. This wax would hinder the acid from taking effect, and would render the painting defective.

115. "When these preliminary operations are finished, the acid is poured over the whole surface of the design; the more body required for the painting-that is, the greater the depth of the incrustation which receives it should be-the more acid should be poured on, at intervals calculated according to the effect produced.

"Though there is no general rule given for the depth of the incrustations, this depending upon taste or caprice, they are usually of about the hundredth part of an inch in depth.

116. "In order to pour the acid conveniently upon the design, it should be placed in little cans, specially adapted to dropping it upon every place, whether large or small, which admits the different parts of the design.

"When you have carefully poured over the surface of the design as much acid as is needed to obtain the incrustations, leaving it there for about three minutes in order to produce this effect, you then remove it in the following manner:

"Place the of Marble over some vessel, and then, with a sponge filled with clear water, wash the imprints which have received the acid. After this, you remove the wax which had been applied to both the interior and exterior, with a metallic blade, or, which is the better way, by placing the slab of Marble near the fire, which thus receiving a gentle heat, but strong enough to restore the was to a fluid state, becomes readily cleansed.

"The Marble and the design being thus properly cleansed, the impression of the picture is formed, and you can then proceed to apply the composition, or the different colors suited to give, to the details as well as the whole, a greater or less brilliancy, or an appearance more or less striking, according to the subject to be represented.

"This application of colors can be made either with the clarified essence of turpentine, the oil of pinks, thick oil, or gummed water, and is executed with the different brushes and pencils ordinarily used by painters.

"When the colors have been tastefully distributed and artistically placed, place the slab of Marble in an ordinary dryer, so arranged as to receive but a temperate heat, but sufficient to properly dry the varied composition with which it has been ornamented; when it has become sufficiently dry, give the picture several coats of varnish.

"After applying the first coat of varnish, leave it to dry, in order that the second coat may penetrate it better, then give the second and third coats with the proper intervals.

"When the leveling of the painting and Marble is exact and complete, rub the picture with a cushion of wool or cotton wadding, covered with silk or any other smooth and soft tissue. The first rubbing should be forcible, but regular. It is then lightly rubbed over again several times. This operation, which lasts nearly an hour, restores to the painting all the brilliancy which the pumice-stone had destroyed.

"The processes for gilding or silvering the pictures, are analogous to those used in the painting itself.-This additional operation is commenced by forming incrustations with the acid, which may either be made upon certain parts of the picture, or excavated in different portions of the Marble.

These new incrustations permit the attainment of a subdued or burnished gilding, according to the substances and processes employed.

"In the first case, for a subdued gilding, fill the incrustations with a paste composed of calcined white lead and thick oil; then pass over the parts to be gilded or silvered a varnish, composed of gum lac and spirits of wine; apply a coating of oil called mixture, composed of old oils and gum resin, dry it, as had been already explained, and when this coating has attained the proper degree of dryness, apply to it the gold or silver leaf, smooth down the metallic leaf upon the mixture, and give to the leaf the coats of varnish necessary to its preservation.

"In the second case, for the burnished gilding, fill the incrustations which have been made upon the painting or Marble, with a red tincture known by the name of assize Dora, a paste composed of Spanish whiting and strong skin glue or glue for gilding wood.

"Give the incrustations three coats of this red tincture, smooth these down properly, then simply moisten that part of the painting which has been thus covered, with water before applying it to the gold or silver leaf; when this metallic leaf has also been leveled and dried, burnish it with a suitable stone, and give it several coats of varnish.

"In respect to the nature and composition of the acid, colors, and varnish, the best acid is the nitric acid of thirty-six degrees. The colors are those which are equally employed in painting upon wood or canvas, and the varnish used is that of gum copal."

Should we rejoice at, or regret such inventions?-Are these really works of art, or methods of deceiving the public? Experience must answer these questions. The use which may be made of these means of varying the public enjoyments will soon determine their value.

If these paintings are employed upon articles of furniture in common use, they will meet with great success, but wealthy people will always prefer the genuine beauties of Marble, and men of good taste will choose simple ornaments, delicate lines, and designs in harmony with the decorations of their apartments and the ornamental pieces hanging therein.

 

ANOTHER PAINTING UPON MARBLE

117. Amateurs of mosaics have often been deceived, by showing them paintings imitating mosaic work so closely as to be mistaken for it when not carefully examined. This kind of painting may be made very useful in the ornamenting of certain edifices, stairways, peristyles, dining-rooms, baths, and temples for gardens. Marble workers may not often have occasion to employ themselves in works of this nature, but they prepare the Marbles on which these paintings are made, and, on this account, we think it advisable to give here the processes for which M. Cicero, of Paris, took out a patent of invention for ten years, in September, 1837.

"These new processes," says he, "are designed to replace the use of oil, glue, or of wax, in all kinds of paintings executed upon stone, Marble, stucco, plaster, wood, cartoons, and all porous substances in general.

"The object is to facilitate the execution of ornamental paintings, and to secure their preservation by remedying the inseparable inconvenience of the projection formed upon the marble by the paintings in oil and glue, which will finally grow obscure, because they are not incorporated with the material upon which they are spread."

118. "Before speaking of the different methods of execution upon Marble and other materials," says M. Cicero, "we will give here the principles of our invention, which consists in the idea of applying to porous substances in order to paint and ornament them, acids, alkalies, alcohols, ethers, etc., containing simple or composite coloring matters in solution or suspension. We will add that these matters, which can be used simply, or mixed with the substances performing the functions of a mordant, act in such a manner as to incorporate themselves with the body, the surface of which is painted; and that this substance can afterwards be rubbed and polished without effecting the painting. It can also receive a coat of varnish, which forms an imperceptible thickness upon the body thus painted.

"To demonstrate better the novelty, advantages and nature of our process, we will give an example of its application.

"Take a piece of Marble pumiced and softened, either upon its saws front or a cut surface, and stopped up and coated as if for polishing or painting; then take black ink (ternate of iron,) red ink, (Brazil wood,) rose ink (cochineal,) and blue ink, (sulfate of indigo,) paint the marble with a common brush, dry it, and then polish it in the usual manner.

"The polishing can be replaced by a varnish upon a sizing put on after the painting, or by a coating of oil applied either cold or warm.

"In both these methods, these coatings of oil, sizing and varnish will deteriorate, as will every preparation of this kind when applied to Marble; while the painting executed by our process will always remain the same by reason of its indelibility, and can never be destroyed since it is absorbed by the Marble into the pores of which it has been introduced.

"This example will suffice to show the conditions of preparation necessary to the colors which we employ, because it, on one hand, it is necessary that their fluidity should be such as to enable them to penetrate into the pores of the material; on the other, it must not be so great as to allow them to spread like a drop of oil falling upon a porous body; in which case they would no longer be subject to the guidance of the brush.

"These colors should have a sufficient degree of tenuity to prevent the occurrence of these inconveniences; these inks which we employ offer to us this normal condition.

"It should also be observed that, the materials upon which this kind of painting is executed being more or less porous, the coloring substances should possess a degree of tenuity relative to the same degree of porosity."

While leaving to M. Cicero the entire responsibility of his statements, we cannot but applaud his experiments and the results obtained, and we recommend to Marble workers to endeavor to improve the art and to popularize the use of paintings upon Marble and stone. This may become a new branch of art which will be in great demand in our commerce with foreign countries, as well as for home consumption.

 

COLORING BY ABSORPTION.

119. The coloring of Marbles by the absorption of colors, which some inventors have recommended as a novelty, has long been successfully practiced in Italy, and the following results obtained.

It has been discovered that the solution of nitrate of silver penetrates Marble, giving it a deep red color.

That the solution of nitrate of gold produces a violet color, shading upon purple.

That the solution of verdigris penetrates the Marble deeply, communicating to it a bright green color.

That those of dragon's blood and gamble also penetrate it; the first producing a beautiful red, and the other, a yellow color.

That the absorptions may be complete in the above instances it is first necessary, the Marble being well polished, to dissolve the gums and resins in warm alcohol. All the dyes obtained by alcohol from Brazil and Campeachy wood and others, also penetrate the Marble deeply.

It has also been discovered that the tincture of cochineal, prepared in this manner with the addition of a little alum, gives to the Marble a most beautiful scarlet color, penetrating nearly the eighth of an inch. This strongly resembles the African Marble.

The artificial orpiment, or sulphuret of arsenic, dissolved in ammonia, will communicate to the Marble a yellow color with a few moments, which will grow more vivid by exposure to the air.

To all the substances employed for this purpose we should add white wax, mixed with the coloring matters and melted together.

If verdigris is boiled in wax and the mixture laid upon the Marble with an instrument, and afterwards removed from the surface when cold, it will be found that the design has penetrated one-third of an inch, producing a fine emerald color.

We shall enter into some details respecting the execution of this work. When several colors are to be used in succession without confounding them or affecting the clearness of the design, it is necessary to proceed in the following manner.

The tinctures obtained by the spirits of wine and oil of turpentine should be employed upon the Marble while it is hot, particularly when delicate designs are executed; but the dragons' blood and gamboge should be applied to the cold Marble; for this they must be dissolved in alcohol, and the solution of gamboge first used.

This, which is quite clear, grows turbid in a short time, and produces a yellow precipitate, which is used for obtaining a more vivid color; the parts sketched are then heated by passing a plate of red hot iron-or, which is better, a saucepan filled with burning coals-over the surface of the Marble, at the distance of three-fourths of an inch from it. It is then left to cool, after which the parts which the color has not penetrated are heated in the same manner. When the yellow coloring is finished, the solution of dragons' blood is applied in the same manner, and while the Marble is hot, the other vegetable tinctures that do not require a great heat in order to penetrate the Marble, may also be applied. The design is finally completed with the colors mixed with wax; much care is necessary in the application of these, since the least degree of heat beyond the proper point will cause them to spread, for which reason they are less suitable for delicate designs.

These colors should also be applied to the places where they are designed to remain. Fresh water should be thrown on them from time to time during the operation.

These colors do not impair that of the Marble, which should be polished before subjecting it to these operations; it is better to use but few colors. Two or three will generally be found sufficient.

We made the assertion at the beginning of this essay, that this art of coloring Marble was not a new invention. Indeed, the ancients understood the incorporation of colors into calcareous substances. Zosimus thus expresses himself on the subject:

"The Marbles are polished to render them more susceptible to the reception and absorption of colors which are then applied. The operation is finished by placing a mordant upon these colors, which preserves the painting, and attaches it so closely to the Marble that both form a part of the same body."

There is also found-

First, in the Nouvelles Economiques, vol. xxx., p. 146, published in 1759, an extract from a paper read by the Count de Caylus, in the public session of the Royal Academy of Belles Lettres, on the twenty-fourth of April of the same year, which contains interesting details respecting A new method of incorporating colors into Marble, and of fixing the sketch.

Second, in the Journal Economique, 1758, p. 169, A method for penetrating the interior of Marble in such a manner a to be able to paint upon the surface things seeming to be within.

Thanks to the progress of chemistry, we may be able to find means of simplifying, and, perhaps of perfecting this work, but we should not regard as an invention what is often merely an improvement. We can easily infer from all that we have said, that a Marble worker who will study all that has been said upon Marble, and will occupy himself with the application of the processes described, will be able to imitate the finest Marbles, and to enrich this art, which has so long been neglected.



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