“Ultramarine blue is a colour noble, beautiful, and perfect beyond all other colours, and there is nothing that could be said of it but it will still exceed this (praise). On account of its great excellence, I shall speak of it at length, and give you full directions for preparing it; and you must pay great attention to them, that you may gain honour and service from them. And with this colour, together with gold (which adorns all the works of our art) let everything be resplendent, whether on walls or panels. “
That is how Cennino Cennini describes Ultramarine in his book Il Libro Dell’Arte written around the turn of the century. He then continues with an elaborate description of how to make it (which we will skip for now).
Today’s painting illustrates both the splendour of Ultramarine and the kind of devotional art Sassoferrato (whose self-portrait we saw yesterday) was known for.