Essential Vermeer 3.0
Looking for a painting by Vermeer? Find it with QUICK SEARCH!

Vermeer's Painting Technique: Introduction

(A Five Part Study plus a brief overview of is technique and stylistic evolution and a few considerations on the techniques of the old masters.)

It is not an easy chore to reconstruct with any degree of precision how Vermeer painted. What we now know of seventeenth-century Dutch painting methods is based largely on information gleaned from contemporary painting manuals integrated with the results of modern scientific analysis. Period painting manuals were more apt to discuss theoretic issues of the noble art of painting rather than the practical side of painting. Even though basic procedure was occasionally outlined, and recipes were given for specific palettes, the actual craft of making a picture was transmitted from masters to young artists through years of apprenticeship (normally from 4 to 6). Few historical records of studio practice survive. None of them regard Vermeer.

The Art of painting (detail), Johannes Vermeer
The Art of Painting (detail)
Johannes Vermeer
c. 1662–1668
Oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Although Vermeer experimented ceaselessly with techniques to create the illusion of three-dimension space render the effects of natural light, evidence points to the fact that he worked largely within the boundaries of traditional studio methods of Northern European artists. These methods were very different than those used by artists today. Modern painters usually execute their works a unified whole. They work while standing so they can walk back and envision the totality of the work. The painting is worked up directly with full color on a white or off-white canvas. Palettes usually contain every pigment which will likely be present in the finished work. Experimentation and improvisation play vital roles. Because craft is no longer retained indispensable to the artistic endeavor, technique is dispensed with in art schools.

Instead, seventeenth-century painters proceeded according to a fixed multi-step method that they had assimilated in a master's studio. The workload was divided into distinct phases in order to deal with the principal pictorial components one at a time. The rationale behind this division of labor was based on both technical and economical motives. It must be remembered that paintings of the seventeenth century were generally far more complex in composition, and great attention was given to perspective accuracy, naturalistic illumination and detail. Once the drawing and lighting scheme had been worked out in the drawing and underpainting stage, artists worked up their compositions in a piecemeal fashion, completing one restricted area at a time.

Looking Over Vermeer's Shoulder is a comprehensive study of the materials and painting techniques that made Vermeer one of the greatest masters of European art.

Bolstered by the author's qualifications as a professional painter and a Vermeer connoisseur, every facet of 17th-century and Vermeer's painting practices—including canvas preparation, underdrawing, underpainting, glazing, palette, brushes, pigments and composition—is laid out in clear, comprehensible language. Also investigated are a number of key issues related specifically to Vermeer's studio methods, such as the camera obscura, studio organization as well as how he depicted wall-maps, floor tiles, pictures-within-pictures, carpets and other of his most defining motifs. Each of the book's 24 topics is accompanied by abundant color illustrations and diagrams.

By observing at close quarters the studio practices of Vermeer and his preeminent contemporaries, the reader will acquire a concrete understanding of 17th-century painting methods and materials and gain a fresh view of Vermeer's 35 works of art, which reveal a seamless unity of craft and poetry.

While not written as a "how-to" manual, realist painters will find a true treasure trove of technical information that can be adapted to almost any style of figurative painting.

author: Jonathan Janson
date: 2020 (second edition)
pages: 294
illustrations: 200-plus illustrations and diagrams
formats: PDF | ePUB | AZW3

Looking Over Vermeer's Shoulder


  1. Vermeer's Training, Technical Background & Ambitions
  2. An Overview of Vermeer’s Technical & Stylistic Evolution
  3. Fame, Originality & Subject Matte
  4. Reality or Illusion: Did Vermeer’s Interiors ever Exist?
  5. Color
  6. Composition
  7. Mimesi & Illusionism
  8. Perspective
  9. Camera Obscura Vision
  10. Light & Modeling
  11. Studio
  12. Four Essential Motifs in Vermeer’s Oeuvre
  1. Drapery
  2. Painting Flesh
  3. Canvas
  4. Grounding
  5. “Inventing,” or Underdrawing
  6. “Dead-Coloring,” or Underpainting
  7. “Working-up,” or Finishing
  8. Glazing
  9. Mediums, Binders & Varnishes
  10. Paint Application & Consistency
  11. Pigments, Paints & Palettes
  12. Brushes & Brushwork

Almost all representations of artists at work showed them at work seated holding small palettes. Pigments, the actual coloring agents of paint, were very few when compared to those available to any modern painter, and usually had to be hand ground each day before setting out to work. Moreover, some pigments were not mutually compatible and had to be used separately. To overcome the scarcity of pigments and the inherent limitations of available materials, artists had learned to compensate via complex techniques such as underpainting, glazing and by varying the consistencies of paint and mode of application.

"Research into painter's terminology has revealed that for the seventeenth-century painter there were three or four main stages: "inventing," the "dead-coloring" and the "working-up," followed (according to the painter and art theoretician Gérard de Lairesse) by "retouching." 1

Inventing corresponds to the modern idea of an initial drawing on the untouched canvas, dead-coloring to underpainting and working-up to the application of color and detail. Each stage, along the preparation of the painting's support, is discussed in depth on separate pages, which can be accessed below. Glazing, a separate but indispensable technique, is analyzed by itself.

Click here to read or download integral English version of A Treatise on the Art of Painting in All its Branches by Gérard de Lairesse (English translation, 1817).

The Primary Stages of Vermeer's Painting Technique

click on each stage of Vermeer's technique below to access a separate page with detailed information

A Brief Overview of the Evolution of Vermeer's Technique with Respect to his Stylistic Evolution

Vermeer's oeuvre can be divided into four relatively distinct stylistic phases.

1. Early Works: History Paintings

"Vermeer's early history paintings, which in many respects are hard to reconcile with his later works, provided him with a broadness of vision and of execution that no other genre painter of the period possessed."1 In these works, thickly applied impasto paint is characteristic. His coloring too was relatively bold, but lighting conventionally conceived. The evident build-up of paint creates a dense and uneven surface accentuating the material presence of the subjects although repeated overpainting provide evidence of technical uncertainty. These earlier history paintings are much larger than the most part of the later interiors. The fluency and technical proficiency of Christ in the House of Martha and Mary strikes an odd note among these early paintings. The Procuress might be considered an intermediate work between the historical subjects and those genre interiors for which Vermeer is celebrated. Even though the painting's "modern" subject differs from the first history works, its scale, uncertain spatial organization, and broadness of execution are clearly reminiscent of his first works.

2. Early Genre Interiors

Vermeer's first interiors break distinctly from the history paintings not only in subject, but also in technique and dimension. Genre subject matter had already been pioneered by other painters such as Pieter de Hooch, Gerrit ter Borch and Nicolas Metsu. As Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. pointed out "the challenge he seems to have set for himself in the late 1650s was to translate the classicizing tendencies of his early religious and mythological paintings into a contemporary idiom…"

In this period the complicated admixtures of pigments found in the history paintings are less frequent and impasto (thickly applied opaque paint) is used more selectively. The brilliant tones needed to suggest the intensity of incoming daylight, which had quickly become one of Vermeer's principal artistic preoccupations, were generally composed of two or three pigments. In order to create illusionistic three-dimensional spaces Vermeer made use of the laws of perspective, which any ambitious painter was familiar with.

The famous pointillés, or globular dots of thick light colored paint that represent specular highlights, make their first appearance. These and other visual peculiarities found in these works indicate that Vermeer had begun to employ the camera obscura, a precursor to the modern photographic camera. The camera obscura is ideal for studying the natural play of light. The contours in the first interiors tend to be sharp, sometimes to the point of brittleness, while impasto is used to evoke the sparkle of light as well as texture.

From the outset of his career, Vermeer made numerous changes during the painting process as he sought a satisfactory image: he eliminated figures, altered costumes, adjusted shapes of buildings in his land and cityscapes and reconsidered the placement and scale of objects in his interiors. Vermeer generally painted on light colored grounds as did many Dutch painters.

3. Maturity: Works of the 1660s

In the early 1660s the surface of Vermeer's paintings have an almost levigated effect. The weave of the canvas is barely perceptible. Many portray single figures bound closely to the composition's planimetric framework. Paint is applied thinly, in translucent and semi-translucent layers. Strong colors are often confined to restricted areas of the compositions. Contours are more varied than before but in general they are more suffused, especially in the shadows. Although the description light had become increasingly important, form is suggested by subtle shifts in tone rather than by forceful chiaroscuro. The economy of description becomes characteristic.

Although Vermeer's thematic and compositional debt to the fine painters Gerrit Dou and Frans van Mieris is obvious, his rendering never reaches such extreme level of microscopic detail for which their painting had become renowned throughout Europe. Perhaps only when the works of these artists are compared side-by-side can the difference be fully appreciated. For example, while each single hair of the fur trimmed jacket of Frans van Mieris' tiny Couple with a Puppy has been rendered with astonishing accuracy, the identical fur trim of Vermeer's Woman Holding a Balance is suggested through subtle changes in tone.

In this period Vermeer may have also made use of the badger brush, which was commonly employed to smooth brush marks, extend glazes and blend adjacent areas of color imperceptibly.

4. Late Works

In the last years of artistic activity Vermeer had acquired mastery of every facet of painting technique. Contour became again sharp but differently from his initial genre interiors, paint is applied with the utmost economy. Brushwork is often curiously calligraphic, freeing itself from slavish description, at times bordering on virtuosity. A sense of brittleness is adverted especially in the modeling of the figure. In some passages paint has been applied so thinly that the underlying ground can be observed. This fact has lead some scholars to believe some of the paintings were not finished.

In the 1670s, form is abstracted. Technique take on greater importance, so much that it challenges illusion. "The accents of color Vermeer used to indicate the folds of then woman's dress or the exquisite decorative rose of the guitar in The Guitar Player, for example, are seen first and foremost as paint, and then only secondarily as descriptive of material texture."3

While Vermeer experimented with various techniques, his basic method and materials remained analogous to those his contemporaries.

A Few Notes on the Methods of the Old Masters

Through modern scientific analysis many of the materials used by the old masters can be identified with certainty. Understanding painting technique, that is, the manner in which materials are applied, is another matter. X-ray and infrared radiography have revealed hitherto hidden aspects of the masters' paintings but these investigative methods must be used in conjunction with contemporary painters' manuals, direct observation and the comprehension of artists' expressive aims in order to form a reasonable overall picture of the actual studio practices.

The principal difference between modern and Dutch seventeenth-century painting technique is that painting was broke down into a series of distinct passages executed in a predefined order. The principal difference between materials is that seventeenth-century painters generally ground their own paints, and pigments were few when compared to the industrially pre-prepared paints available today. Modern paints have an almost uniform consistency while hand-made paints have entirely different drying brushing and covering characteristics from one another, which, however, painters had not only overcome but had learned to use to their advantage.

Old Master "Lost" Painting Materials

The search for lost old masters materials had already begun shortly after the end of the Golden Age. Many Dutch painters had achieved extraordinary levels of technical proficiency that successive generations of artists were at a loss as how to reproduce. Speculation continued into the twentieth century, especially among painters who attempted to emulate the painting styles of the past. Fortunately, modern scientific investigations conducted by the principal museums in the later part of the twentieth century, have slowly come to a common position in regards. It would now seem that the almost irreproducible technical results seen in Dutch masters were, in fact, not due to any particular use of material or complex procedure, but were in great part consequence of superior creative and imaginative powers.

Ernst van Wetering addressed the question in his study of Rembrandt's painting methods4 using the metaphor of the violin bow. "The impact of this rather simple implement on the richness of the musical effects depends almost entirely on the talent, skill and imagination of the musician who handles it. The same violin may sound either utterly dull or heavenly rich just from the way in which the same bow is hand. Rembrandt's pictorial richness is exclusively determined by the talent, skill and imagination with which he wielded the brush."

The composition of Rembrandt's painting medium, which had been the source of almost endless speculation, has been revealed to have been composed of nothing more than common linseed oil. Rarely did Rembrandt used walnut oil used, and the presence of the presence of egg was detected together with linseed oil only occasionally.

The Painter's Studio in Seventeenth-Century Netherlands

Artist's Materials in Delft*

Fine art painters or fijnschilders needed artist materials. Because of the very large amounts of color pigments used in workshops in the Delftware industry, there was volume of trade and a high level of expertise regarding these materials, both in raw form and in cleared and refined, powdered form.
Painters could make a choice. They could invest their own time, buying raw materials and grind these, mixing in oils and drying agents, storing these hand made paints in pig bladders. They could also invest time and stretch and mount their own canvases, priming them with layer upon layer of gesso, thus forming a smooth and stable white background for canvas paintings. Because of modern techniques such as x-ray we have come to learn a lot about the supports Vermeer used. Most were of a standard commercial size.

Alternatively, in order to save time and to benefit from the professional expertise of others, many artists may have preferred to use the more expensive ready-made artists materials. Ground-up pigments, ready-made paints tied-up pig bladders, liquids and various sizes of canvases could be had off the shelf from specialized art dealers. These were the specialized art supply grocer nicknamed the colorman. In Delft one such colorman was Leendert Volmarijn. Alternatively a painter could shop around for raw or refined materials at the local apothecaries, who would in turn have obtained materials from wholesale colorman dealers in Amsterdam, Haarlem or Rotterdam. In 1664 Just one Delft apothecary bill crops up in Vermeer documents known to us, that of Dirck de Cocq, involving artist materials delivered to Vermeer, such as lead tin yellow and some other items.

* Kess Kaldenbach, "The Delft St Luke Guild: How it was Run." http://kalden.home.xs4all.nl/dart/d-b-lucasgild2.htm

Primary Sources

  • ANGEL, Philips, Lof der Schilder-konst (Leiden) 1642. [facsimile ed., Utrecht, 1969)
  • BERGER, Ernst, Quellen fur Maltechnik wahrend der Renaissance und deren Folgezeit, Munich, 1901, reprint 1973. Contains de Mayerne MS, 99–364.
  • CENNINO d'Andrea, Cennini, Il Libro dell Arte, C. 1400, tr. Daniel V. Thompson, Jr., The Craftsman's Handbook; 'II Libro dell 'Arte', (New York:Dover) 1933, 1960.
  • HOOGSTRATEN, Samuel van (1627–1678), Inleyding tot de hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst… (Introduction to the higher education of the art of painting) Rotterdam, 1678.
  • LAIRESSE, Gérard de, Het Groot Schilderboek, 2 vols., Amsterdam 1707; English translation 1738.
  • MAYERNE T.T. de, Pictoria, Sculptoria et quae subalternum Artium, 1620, ed.
  • GRAAF VAN DE, J. A. Het De Mayerne Manuscript als Bron Voor de Schildertechnick van de Barok, Mijdrecht, 1958.
  • MERRIFIELD, M.P., Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting, Original Texts with English Translations, 2 vols. Bound as one (Mineola, NY:Dover) 1849, 1967, 1999.
  • VAN MANDER, Karel, Het Schilder-Boeck, Haarlem, 1604; 2nd ed. Amsterdam 1618.[reprint with introduction and translation, 6 vols., Hessel Miedema, ed., Doornspijk, 1994–999]
  • VASARI, Oiorgio, Vasari on Technique, tr. L. Maclehose, ed. Prof. G. Baldwin-Brown (New York:Dover) 1907, 1960.
  • VELIZ, Zahira, Artists' Techniques in Golden Age Spain…Six treatises in translation, Cambridge, 1986.

Secondary Sources

  • BOK, Martin Jan, "The Artist's Working Method," in Jan Steen, Painter and Storyteller [exh. Cat., National Gallery of Art and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam] (Washington and Amsterdam, 1996) 86–87.
  • BOERSMA, Annetje, "Dou's Painting Technique: An Examination of Two Paintings," Gerrit Dou, Master Painter in the Age of Rembrandt, Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., ed., exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington (New Haven:Yale University Press) 2000, pp. 54–63.
  • BOMFORD David, Christopher Brown and Ashok Roy, Art in the Making:Rembrandt (London:National Gallery) 1 988.[Glossary pp. 144–147; Bibliographical Appendix on Training of Artists and Practice of Painting, pp. 148–149; Select Bibliography, 150–153; Technical Literature, pp. 154–155.
  • BRUSATI, Celeste, Artifice and illusion: The Art and Writing of Samuel van Hoogstraten (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press) 1995.
  • EASTLAKE, C. L., Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters, 2 vols., London 1847, reprint, New York, 1960
  • FELLER, Robert L. (vol.1), Ashok Roy, (vol.2), and Elizabeth West Fitzhugh (vol. 3), eds., Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics, 3 vols. (vol.1, Cambridge and Washington:Cambridge University Press and National Gallery of Art) 1986; (vol.2, Washington and New York:National Gallery of Art and Oxford University Press) 1993; (vol.3, Washington and New York:National Gallery of Art and Oxford University Press) 1997.
  • GETTENS, Rutherford J. and George L. Stout, Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopaedia (New York:Dover) 1942, 1966
  • GROEN, Karen and Ella Hendriks, "Frans Hals: Technical Examination," in S. Slive, ed. Frans Hals, [exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Royal Academy, Frans Halsmuseum,] (Washington, London and Haarlem, 1989–1990)109–127.
  • HARLEY, Rosamund, Artists' Pigments c. 1600–1835: a study in English documentary sources, 2nd ed., (London:Bufferworth Scientific) 1982.
  • KIRBY, Jo, "The Painter's Trade in the Seventeenth Century: Theory and Practice," 5–49, National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol 20, 1999, National Gallery Publications, London, Yale University Press.
  • KOESTER, Olaf, Illusions: Gijsbrechts, Royal Master of Deception, with contributions by Celeste Brusati, Jørgen Hein, Gunter Herzog, Ekkehard Mai, Mette Bjarnhof, and Lone Bogh, exhibition catalogue (Copenhagen:Statens Museum for Kunst) 1999. -see especially Mette Bjamhof and Lone Bogh, "Restoration History and Study of Painting Technique, pp. 287–305.
  • SCHENDEL, A.F.E. van, "Manufacture of vermilion in 17th century Amsterdam: the Pekstok papers," Studies in Conservation, 17, 1972, 70-82. [also contains recipes for Spanish green (verdigris) and schuytgeel (a yellow lake pigment.) [Peckstock Papers, Municipal Archives, Amsterdam, No. N-09-23]
  • TALLEY, Mansfield Kirby, Portrait Painting in England: studies in the technical literature before 1700, published privately by the Paul Mellon Centre, London 1981. [discussion of de Mayerne MS in chapter 6]
  • VAN HOUT, Nico, "Meaning and Development of the Ground-layer in Seventeenth Century Painting," Looking Through Paintings, the Study of Painting Techniques and Materials in Support of Art Historical Research, Erma Hermens, ed., (Leiden:deProm and Archetype) 1998, 199–225.
  • WALLERT, Arie, ed., Still Lifts: Techniques and Style: An Examination of paintings from the Rjjksmuseum, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Zwolle:Waanders Publishers) 1999.
  • WETERING, Ernst van de. Rembrandt: the Painter at Work. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2004.
  • WHITE, Raymond and Jo Kirby, "Rembrandt and his Circle: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Paint Media Re-Examined," National Gallery Technical Bulletin, vol.15 (London:National Gallery Publications) 1994, 64–78.

Vermeer's Painting Technique

Online Resources

Manufactures of Historic Pigments

This list is drawn entirely from Tony Johansen's excellent PaintMaking.com

  • Blockx — Belgium. Flake White (Lead White), genuine Alizarin Crimson, and genuine Venetian Red from Venice. The Venetian Red is very special.
  • Cornelissen's — UK/WORLD WIDE. L Cornelissen & Son was established in 1885, at a time when artist's were exploring the British Empire. From the beginning they specialised in dispatching art materials world wide, and continue that tradition to this day. They are proud that their store looks like a nineteenth-century apothecary, and they sell more than 2 dozen rare and obsolete pigments including a couple that are impossible to find anywhere else. They sell genuine Ivory Black, Antwerp Blue, Lapis Lazuli, Egyptian Blue Frit, Realgar, Orpiment, Lead-Tin Yellow, Gamboge, Naples Yellow, Malachite, Verdisgris, Smalt, Cadmium Green, Madder Root, Barium Yellow, Vermilion, Azurite, Dragon's Blood, Indigo, Bremen Green, Manganese Blue and much more Info is downloadable in PDF form.
  • Fragonard — France. Genuine Chrome Green is on their list of colors although I am not certain why anyone would want to use it for anything other than consevation.
  • Kama Pigments — Canada. Kama is a specialist supplier of artist's pigments including historic pigments. Vermillion, Manganese Blue, Alizarin Crimson and PY 100 also called Tartrazine Lake, a very fugitive color that was once used as an Indian Yellow substitute. They also sell Logwood and Brazilwood in their wood stains section.
  • Kremer Pigments — Germany/USA. With a New York store, Kremer is a specialist producer of artist's pigments. It is the only easy to find maker of the genuine Lapis Lazuli made by Kremer to the recipe of Cennini. They supply a wide range of obsolete pigments like Smalt, Azurite, rare French Ochres etc as well as logwood, Dragon's Blood, Bucktorn berries, and other rare organics. Kremer one of the best supply houses to be found anywhere.
  • Lapis Lazuli — Chile. Website of the mining company extracting the Lapis Lazuli from 14,000 feet up in the Andes and then making the real natural Ultramarine pigment by a water extraction process and selling at an affordable price direct to the artist. South American Lapis is available in various micron size pigment particles.
  • Natural Pigments — USA./Russia/Lithuania. Based in California with an affiliate company in the Russian Federation and a distribution center in Lithuania, this company has the ability to access the rare pigments gums, oils, resins and other materials used in painting from prehistoric times up to the end of the eighteenth century. They are quite unique in this regard selling every conceivable supply you could need with beautiful Earths that Cennini would have recognized and used. Azurite, Malachite, Lapis Lazuli, Smalt, Realgar, Minium and Orpiment are just a tiny portion of the historic pigments you will find here, as well as the paractical supplies such as mullers, Mortars and Pestles, empty tubes, wood panels and so on. Their website is rather slow to use because it is packed with information, recipes, history, catalogs, books and more.
  • Old Holland — Netherlands. Has only two obsolete pigments that it sells, Cremnitz White (White Lead) and Manganese Blue. Since this pigment went out of production in the 1990's Old Holland is now the only supplier of this beautful transparent cerulean like blue.
  • Sennelier — France. This list of pigment colors is like stepping back in time as is their entire art materials ethos. The standard range of pigments sold under the Sennelier brand are available worldwide but a visit to their website reveals a far more extensive range of pigments available directly from their Paris store. They have not at the time of publishing finished the English version of their site but it is coming soon. If you can manage to find your way through the French you will discover some 2 dozen historic pigments in the section 'pigments rares CDQV'. Colors include Dragon's Blood, Lead-Tin Yellow, Vermilion, Verdisgris, Copper Resinate, Sepia, Smalt, Azurite and Malachite. There are also some interesting plant based pigments. The White Lead is available in both the modern version and the older denser type.
  • Sinopia Pigments — USA. Californian based Sinopia has one of the largest ranges of historic pigments anywhere. From Azurite to Vermilion and everything in between, including the Fra Angelico version of genuine Ultramarine made according to a Renaissance recipe.
  • South London Art Supplies — UK. Sells a presentation box of historic minerals not ground such as Lapis Lazuli, Red Jasper, Azurite, Malachite, Chrysocolla, Cinnabar, Fuschite and Sodalite. In addition a wde range of unique Earth colors hand dug from all over Europe and Asia. Several of these are also sold as solid lumps for using directly on prepared paper for drawing.
  • Winsor and Newton — UK. Their range is much smaller than it used to be and now there are only 3 obsolete pigments in the range but 2 of them are very special, genuine Carmine which is simply beautiful, although it fades so fast it should not be used for permanent work, Rose Madder Genuine which is ASTM l l, and Alizarin Crimson Genuine which is ASTM l l l.
  • Zecchi — Italy. Based in Florence Zecchi is famous for their historic pigments for Conservation and fine artists. Egg Tempera is their specialty. They supply a large range of natural plant derived and mineral colors. Their color list reads like Cennini's color list. Fustic, Hematite, Arzica, Verzino, Dragons Blood, Red Lake, Verdigris, Vermilion, Indigo, Cochineal, Sepia, Smalt are a small sampling of the pigments here.


  1. This examination of Vermeer's pigments is based principally based on Herman Kühn's "A Study of the Pigments and Grounds Used by Jan Vermeer." (Hermann Kühn, "A Study of the Pigments and Grounds Used by Jans Vermeer," Reports and Studies in the History of Art, 1968, 154–202.) Due to the discreet number of paint samples taken, together with the fact that they were taken only from the outer edge of the canvas, the study, while of extreme value, furnishes partial knowledge of the which pigments and how he the artist employed them. Results of other studies conducted in recent years have been integrated in this study.
  2. Bomford et al., Art in the Making (London, 2006); Jo Kirby, “The Price of Quality: Factors Influencing the Cost of Pigments During the Renaissance,” in Revaluing Renaissance Art, eds. Gabriele Neher and Rupert Shepherd(Aldershot, 2000), 2–40; Michelle O’Malley, Painting under Pressure: Fame, Reputation and Demand in Renaissance Florence (New Haven, 2012).
  3.  Louisa C. Matthew, “‘Vendecolori a Venezia’: The Reconstruction of a Profession,” The Burlington Magazine, 144 (2002), 680–6; Julia DeLancey, “Dragonsblood and Ultramarine: the Apothecary and Artists’ Pigments in Renaissance Florence,” in The Art Market in Italy (15th–17th Centuries), eds. Louisa C. Matthew and Sara F. Matthews-Grieco (Modena, 2003), 141–50; Roland Krischel, “Zur Geschichte des venezianischen Pigmenthandels. Das Sortiment des Jacobus de Benedictis à Coloribus,” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch, 63 (2002), 93–158; Paolo Bensi, “Gli arnesi dell’arte. I Gesuati di San Giusto alle mura e la pittura del Rinascimento a Firenze,” Studi di Storia delle arti, 3 (1980), 33–47.
  4. Trade in Artists’ Materials. Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700, eds. Jo Kirby, Susie Nash and Joanna Cannon (London, 2010).
  5.  For examples of the rules imposed by artists’ guilds on use of materials see Rachel Billinge et al., “Methods and Materials of Northern European Painting in the National Gallery, 1400–1550,” National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 18 (1997), 6–55; Melissa R. Katz, “Archi­tec­tural Polychromy and the Painters’ Trade in Medieval Spain,” Gesta, 41 (2002), 3–13; Jo Kirby, David Saunders and Marika Spring. “Proscribed Pigments in Northern European Renaissance Paintings and the Case of Paris Red,” Studies in Conservation, 51 (2006), 236–43.
  6. Marika Spring, Rachel Grout and Raymond White, “‘Black Earths’: A Study of Unusual Black and Dark Grey Pigments Used by Artists in the Sixteenth Century,” National Gallery Technical Bulletin, 24 (2003), 96–114; Barbara H. Berrie, “Rethinking the History of Artists’ Pigments through Chemical Analysis,” Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, 5 (2012), 441–59.
  7.  Jill Dunkerton, Susan Foister and Nicholas Penny, Dürer to Veronese: Sixteenth-Century Painting in the National Gallery (New Haven, 1999); Jill Dunkerton et al., Giotto to Dürer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery (New Haven, 1994); Arie Wallert and Carlo van Oosterhout, From Tempera to Oil Paint: Changes in Venetian Painting 1460–1560 (Amsterdam, 1998).
  8. The considerable overlap of painting and make-up in terms of color and material is discussed Romana Sammern, who points out the common sources for information on material aspects of maquillage.
  9. Luciano Novelli and Mattia Sella, Petrolio: una storia antica (Milan, 2009).

EV 3.0 Newsletter ✉

Latest Article