- Historical recipes for preparatory layers for oil paintings in manuals, manuscripts and handbooks in North West Europe, 1550-1900: analysis and reconstructions
- Award date
- 5 September 2014
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)
Grounds, or preparatory layers, form the basis of nearly all artistic oil paintings. They influence both a painting’s visual characteristics and its longevity.
This thesis investigates a collection of c. 700 historical recipes for ground preparation and c. 300 related quotes from historical sources. This investigation results in a comprehensive and broad-based analysis of the materials and techniques advised for use in preparatory layers; individual recipes are placed in a geographical and historical context and long-term developments are traced. Historical sources reveal important information about the intended function of the different materials and methods, about the motives for employing certain materials or colours, and the relation between the ground and painting methods in subsequent layers. Historical descriptions of the influence of grounds on the degradation of paintings demonstrate that concerns with the stability of preparatory layers also influenced the artists’ choice of preparatory system.
Chapters discussing the role of recipe books and the influence of commercial ground preparation on the character of historical sources examine the relation between written recipes and actual working practice. Reconstructions are employed to further investigate the working properties and ageing characteristics of materials described in the recipes. They also reveal important information about the relevance of written recipes for painting practices.
Appendices include an annotated bibliography of historical sources and a recipe database (on CD).
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam