Changing Pictures - Discolouration in 15th to 17th Century Oil Paintings Author:Margriet van Eikema Hommes ISBN: 1873132395
Publisher: Archetype Size: 180 x 255 mm (7 x 10 in.) 254 Pages 155 Illustrations Hardback.
Today, 15th–17th-century oil paintings usually look different from the way they looked originally due to the ageing of the pigments and media used by the artist. While some areas of the painting may have become darker, others may have faded or even changed colour entirely. The present colour range and modelling in an old picture may deviate greatly from that which the painter intended. As this can have far-reaching consequences for our interpretation of an artist’s pictorial, illusionistic and aesthetic intentions, it is crucial that both conservators and art historians are made aware of the optical changes in old pictures.
Changing Pictures is the first extensive art historical study on the discoloration of old master paintings, concentrating on oil paintings from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The point of departure for this book is contemporaneous writings on oil painting technique and on the use of colour and light and shade in paintings – texts written by both professional and amateur painters, art lovers or connoisseurs, and ranging from manuscripts with succinct practical instructions to early published scholarly treatises which expound in detail the myriad aspects of the art of painting. In this book, the historical research has been conducted in parallel with a technical study of paintings and the artificial ageing of reconstructed traditional paints. This integrated approach provides new insight into the composition of the paints used by the old masters. It also reveals that both the degree and the nature of the discoloration can depend on a large number of material and technical variables, including the quality of the pigments, the type of binding medium and the painting technique. Historical writings also provide valuable understanding of the original colours and modelling of old paintings. By means of several examples of ‘changed pictures’, the author demonstrates how studies of the old texts – together with examinations of preparatory sketches/drawings, early copies of the discoloured paintings and our knowledge of the ageing of paint materials – enable us to deduce a painting’s original appearance thereby gaining a more reliable insight into the intentions of the artist.
I. Determining the Intentions of Painting Methods and Recipes II. Painters’ Methods to Prevent Colour Changes Described in Sixteenth to Early Eighteenth Century Sources on Oil painting Techniques i.Instructions to prevent discoloration caused by the oil binding medium ii.Methods to combat the paint’s discolouring caused by the pigment’s discoloration iii.Instructions to combat the discoloration caused by the mixing of incompatible pigments iv.Methods to combat discoloration caused by the increasing transparency of oil paint-layers v.Gaining knowledge about the paint's discoloration. Conclusion III. Verdigris Glazes in Historical Oil Paintings: Recipes and Techniques i. Composition of historical verdigris ii Appreciation of verdigris iii Instructions for glazing with verdigris iv Diminishing use of verdigris in the 17th century Conclusion and Summary IV. Indigo as a Pigment in Oil Painting and the Problem of its Fading i Indigo as a textile dye: production and history ii Types of indigo pigment used in oil media iii Increasing import of tropical indigo and its growing importance as an artists’ pigment iv Different qualities of tropical indigo v. Properties of indigo in an oil medium vi Quality of indigo pigment and colour-fastness of indigo paint vii Opinion about indigo’s light fastness and painting technique viii Painting techniques for indigo in top paint layers ix Different states of preservation of indigo paint areas x Impact of painting technique on indigo’s colour preservation xi The impact of fading of indigo on the colour harmony and the effect of spatial illusion Conclusion and summary V Discoloration or Chiascuro? An interpretation of the Dark Areas in Raphaels' Transfiguration of Christ Views on the chiaroscuro in the Transfiguration Rilievo and the modelling in the Transfiguration Preliminary studies and 16th-century copies Light as a means of expression Possible causes of the darkening Examination of the paint surface
APPENDICES A Indigo as a Pigment in Oil Painting and its Fading: Tropical Indigo Plants B Indigo as a Pigment in Oil Painting and its Fading: Experiments Materials and preparation of paint reconstructions Pigments Media Paint application Light-ageing conditions and colour measurements Colour measurements of samples subjected to light ageing no. 1 Experiments Light-ageing tests with synthetic and natural types of indigo Recipes for purification of tropical indigo Influence of the binding medium
This excellent book is the most wide-ranging survey of a subject of which art historians and conservators have long been aware...for those who study paintings of whatever period, its conclusions and implications...cannot be ignored. David Bomford, The Burlington Magazine, February 2006
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