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

making art technological sources accessible

Technical Art History / Artists' Recipe Books

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

For the past 20 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 almost 200 subsequently), has supervised the compilation of a database of 19th century manufacturing recipes, and continues to publish examples of these important and relatively 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.

"The Art of All Colours" (a catalogue of mediaeval recipe books for painters and illuminators)
"Montpellier Manuscript" (a 14th century painter's manual)
"Middle English recipes for painters, stainers, scribes, and illuminators" (A corpus of 14th-15th century English recipes)
"Tricks of the medieval trades" (A Collection of Fourteenth-Century English Craft Recipes.)

Other publications
On DV Thompson's translation of Cennini

Full List of publications by Mark Clarke

The Winsor & Newton Project (19th century commercial formulations)

Research group
Art Technological Source Research (A working group of ICOM-CC)

[mark@clericus.org] [clericus home page]
Last updated 6 November 2021       Mark Clarke       http://www.clericus.org/recipes.htm