. . c l e r i c u s . .

making art technological sources accessible

Artists' Recipe Books

A surprising number of written recipes for artists' materials have survived, but only a handful are well known.

For the past 10 years Mark Clarke has been unearthing more and more examples, and making them accessible. He has published a catalogue of over 400 mediaeval European manuscripts that contain recipes for painters and illuminators (and has discovered 50 subsequently), has supervised the compilation of a database of 17,000 pages of 19th century recipes, and is in the process of publishing a number of these important and unknown texts.

Often it is unclear how an artwork was made. Recipes allow us to reconstruct artists' methods of working. In particular this allows us to evaluate how their work in its surviving imperfect state relates to their original intentions. Where chemical analysis is impossible, recipes can be our only indication of what is or was present.

See also these pages:
"Montpellier Manuscript" (a 14th century painter's manual)
"The Art of All Colours" (a catalogue of mediaeval recipe books for painters and illumnators)
The Winsor & Newton Project (19th century commercial formulations)
On DV Thompson's translation of Cennini
The Art Technological Source Research group.

[mark@clericus.org] [clericus home page]
Last updated 15 October 2009       Mark Clarke       http://www.clericus.org/recipes.htm