What is Craquelure and How to Appreciate It in Art
Craquelure is a term that refers to the fine pattern of cracks that form on the surface of materials, especially paintings, over time. It can be caused by various factors, such as drying, aging, intentional patterning, or a combination of all three. Craquelure can be seen as a sign of authenticity, history, and beauty in art, as it reveals the age and condition of the artwork, as well as the materials and techniques used by the artist.
The Origins and Meaning of Craquelure
The word craquelure comes from the French word craquelÃ, which means \"crackled\" or \"cracked\". It is derived from the verb craqueler, which imitates the sound of cracking. The word was first used in the early 20th century to describe the network of cracks on old paintings, especially those made with tempera or oil paint.
Craquelure can be seen as a natural phenomenon that occurs due to the physical and chemical changes in the paint layers and the varnish over time. As the paint and varnish dry, shrink, expand, and react to environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, light, and pollution, they develop cracks that join up into a complex network. The shape, size, direction, and density of the cracks depend on various factors, such as the type and thickness of the paint and varnish, the type and preparation of the support (such as canvas or wood), the style and technique of the artist, and the history and conservation of the artwork.
Craquelure can also be seen as an intentional effect that is created by the artist or by later restorers or forgers. Some artists may deliberately induce craquelure on their paintings to create a certain aesthetic or expressive effect, such as an antique look or a textured surface. Some restorers or forgers may artificially produce craquelure on their paintings to make them look older or more authentic. There are various methods to create artificial craquelure, such as applying heat, chemicals, pressure, or mechanical tools.
The Types and Characteristics of Craquelure
Craquelure can be classified into different types according to its morphology (the shape and appearance of the cracks) and its origin (the cause and process of cracking). Some of the common types and characteristics of craquelure are:
Island craquelure: This type of craquelure consists of small, irregularly shaped islands of paint separated by cracks. It is usually caused by shrinkage of thick paint layers during drying.
Feather craquelure: This type of craquelure consists of thin, curved cracks that resemble feathers. It is usually caused by shrinkage of thin paint layers during drying.
Pentagonal craquelure: This type of craquelure consists of pentagonal or hexagonal shapes formed by straight cracks. It is usually caused by shrinkage of varnish layers during drying.
Radial craquelure: This type of craquelure consists of radial cracks that radiate from a central point. It is usually caused by mechanical stress or impact on the painting.
Spiral craquelure: This type of craquelure consists of spiral cracks that twist around a central point. It is usually caused by torsion or twisting of the painting.
Italian craquelure: This type of craquelure consists of small, rectangular blocks formed by orthogonal cracks. It is usually found on Italian paintings from the 15th to 17th centuries.
French craquelure: This type of craquelure consists of larger and less regular patterns formed by curving cracks. It is usually found on French paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries.
The Appreciation and Analysis of Craquelure
Craquelure can be appreciated as a unique feature that adds value and interest to an artwork. It can reveal information about the age and condition of the artwork, as well as the materials and techniques used by the artist. It can also enhance 06063cd7f5