Grey Room

Observations on Painting

Cristoforo Sorte

Title page from Cristoforo Sorte, Osservationi nella pittura (1580).


What can I say of the true origin of rivers that I posed in the drawing of that little chorography which, according to my modest abilities, I gave to Your Magnificence as a sign of your many merits; this being a subject that belongs to investigators of natural things and their secrets, not to me, since I do not know how to penetrate further than what is simply demonstrated to me by the surface? Moreover, what can I say about imitating nature in her vivid and most beautiful colors given that this thing in my opinion cannot be completely taught, and the ways used by someone else in this, even less? And here I inform you that no one until now, as far as I know, has written about this matter except in general terms… .

I will discuss the things that, according to the opportunities I have had to practice, I have diligently observed and considered good, which, if they will not be of use to scientists and those who have already completely arrived to the knowledge of the beauties and useful artifices of painting (as I truly confess should not only benefit but also perhaps please) will perhaps be useful to young people and to those who are not so skilled in this subject.