Pen and Paint: The Painting Technique in Gerard de Lairesse’s Bacchus and Ariadne as Compared to the Principles Expounded in His Groot Schilderboek

The article illuminates a research into several aspects of Gerard de Lairesse’s (1640–1711) painting technique. Ariadne and Bacchus was part of a series of decorative paintings for Soestdijk Palace, commissioned by Stadholder Willem III between 1676 and 1678. As part of an extensive restoration treatment of the painting during 2005 and 2006, descriptions in Lairesse’s Groot Schilderboek (1707) were studied. Two aspects of the writings were compared with the painting techniques, supported by paint sampling. The first aspect to be examined was the flesh colors of the figures Bacchus and Ariadne, because of their prominence in the picture. The second was atmospheric and color perspective, which raised questions about some parts of the picture.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.12.1.7

Appendices

I     Paint samples of Bacchus and Ariadne – JHNA_12.1_Blok_Appendix_1
II    SEM/EDX analysis –  JHNA_12.1_Blok_Appendix_2
III   DTMS analysis – JHNA_12.1_Blok_Appendix_3
IV   Paint samples of Five-part Ceiling Decoration for the Great Hall of Soestdijk Palace – JHNA_12.1_Blok_Appendix_4

Acknowledgements

I should like to express my gratitude to my former colleagues at the Mauritshuis, Carol Pottasch, Paintings Conservator; Petria Noble, Head of Conservation (now at the Rijksmuseum), and Sabrina Meloni, Paintings Conservator, for their guidance during the extensive conservation treatment and research of the painting discussed here. The Rijksmuseum kindly permitted the use of documents from its collection, as did the Royal Collections of the Netherlands. The analyses would not have been possible without the expertise and assistance of Annelies van Loon and Jaap Boon from the FOM Institute AMOLF and Matthijs de Keijzer from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. In addition, I wish to express my gratitude to Margriet van Eikema Hommes, Associate Professor, Delft University of Technology; Lyckle de Vries; Professor Arie Wallert (ret.), University of Amsterdam; Maartje Stols-Witlox, Assistant Professor of Paintings Conservation, University of Amsterdam; and Ige Verslype, Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum. A special thanks also to the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg, the place where it all began. I should like to thank Beverley Jackson for her translation of this article. The translations from the Groot Schilderboek are by Lyckle de Vries.

Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne,  ca. 1680,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 1 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne, ca. 1680, canvas, 175.5 x 93cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-C-170683 (on loan from the Mauritshuis, inv. 83) (artwork in the public domain; photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Maurits Post, Map of Soestdijk Palace, 1674–78, Royal House Archives
Fig. 2 Map of Soestdijk Palace, architect Maurits Post, 1674–78. Royal House Archives. Red indicates Mary Stuart’s apartment (photo: Royal House Archives) [side-by-side viewer]
J. de Greef, Map of Soestdijk Palace, 1815–1, Royal House Archives
Fig. 3 Map of Soestdijk Palace, architect J. de Greef, 1815–1. Royal House Archives. Red indicates Waterloo Hall, formerly Mary Stuart’s apartment (photo: Royal House Archives) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Five-part Ceiling Decoration for the Great Hall o,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 4 Gerard de Lairesse, Five-part Ceiling Decoration for the Great Hall of Soestdijk Palace, canvas, 600 x 800 cm (4 parts, each 300 x 400 cm). Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum inv. SK-A1233 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Selene and Endymion,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 5 Gerard de Lairesse, Selene and Endymion, canvas, 177 x 118.5 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A 4210 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Odysseus and Calypso,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 6 Gerard de Lairesse, Odysseus and Calypso, canvas, 125 x 94 cm, signed: G. Lairesse f. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A211 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Mercury Ordering Calypso to Release Odysseus,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 7 Gerard de Lairesse, Mercury Ordering Calypso to Release Odysseus, canvas, 132 x 96 cm, signed: G. Lairesse. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A212 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 8 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), pentimento in hand of Bacchus (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne,
Fig. 9 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne, lead white particles in ground layer, macro picture 320x, 16 cm ↓ 5 cm ← (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Paint cross-section 1: lower abdomen of Ariadne,
Fig. 10 Paint cross-section 1: lower abdomen of Ariadne, DF 200x (photo: Vera Blok)
(5) Thin layer of lead white, chalk, and discolored smalt
(4) Layer of lead white, chalk, vermilion, red lake, yellow ochre, calcium phosphate, bone black
(3) Two layers of lead white and vermilion with a medium layer in between
(2) Ground layer with lead white, umber, and chalk
(1) Ground layer with umber, chalk. and red earth pigment [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne,
Fig. 11 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne, brushstroke in ground layer, macro picture 80x, 10 cm ↓ 11,5 cm ← (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 12 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), IR-2, accentuation of arch at left in sky area (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 13 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), IR-2, the vague vertical line in the contour of dark shadow in the purple drapery corresponds with carbon-containing dead coloring layer (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 14 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), impasto in wooden sphinx (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 15 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), highlight of Ariadne’s arm (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 16 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), damaged paint layer in shadow area of Ariadne’s arm (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Paint cross-section 5: flesh color of Bacchus’s,
Fig. 17 Paint cross-section 5: flesh color of Bacchus’s nostril, BF 200x (photo: Vera Blok)
(5) Thin red layer with little or no lead white and some red pigment particles
(4) Light pink layer with lead white and red earth pigment
(3) Red layer with red earth pigment, a red lake and lead white with on top a medium layer
(2) Ground layer with lead white, umber, and chalk
(1) Ground layer with umber, chalk, and red earth pigment [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 18 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), cool highlights of purple drapery (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Maurits Post, Map of Soestdijk Palace, 1674–78, Royal House Archives
Fig. 19 Map of Soestdijk Palace, architect Maurits Post, 1674–78, Royal House Archives. Red indicates location of Bacchus and Ariadne in the cabinet (photo: Royal House Archives) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 20 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), arched blue sky area (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Paint cross-section 16: blue drapery of maenad wi,
Fig. 21 Paint cross-section 16: blue drapery of maenad with two thin fluorescing layers, UV 200x (photo: Vera Blok).
(8) Residue of varnish
(7) Indigo with probably lead white and some chalk
(6) Red layer
(5) Thin brown red layer
(4) Dark brown layer with on top a medium layer
(3) Dark red brown layer with on top a medium layer
(2) Ground layer with lead white, umber, and chalk
(1) Ground layer with umber, chalk, and red earth pigment [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 22 Gerard de Lairesse; Bacchus and Ariadne (detail); (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
  1. 1. This painting’s provenance differs from that of the other pieces in the series. This is described in detail by Ben Broos, Liefde, List en Lijden: Historiestukken in het Mauritshuis (The Hague: Mauritshuis/Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, 1993): Soestdijk Palace, 1674–1799; Nationale Konst-Gallery, Huis ten Bosch, The Hague, 1800–1805; Nationaal Kabinet (Koninklijk Museum), ‘Besogne-Kamer en Gallerij Willem V,’ The Hague, 1806–1822; Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1822–2012; on loan to the Rijksmuseum from 2012.

  2. 2. The research and treatment were conducted as part of an internship for a Postgraduate Diploma in Easel Paintings at the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL). The research and treatment were conducted in the Mauritshuis. This article is an abridged version of the resulting thesis: Vera Blok, “Bacchus en Ariadne: Onderzoek naar en behandeling van een interieurstuk van Gerard de Lairesse,” (The Hague: royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis Foundation, 2006). The thesis discusses the conservation history of Bacchus and Ariadne and the restoration carried out in 2006. The conservation history was reconstructed in order to understand the background of a specific radical change to the painting: an overpainting of the sky section with Prussian blue in 1799–1800. The present article deals with a different issue; it does not discuss the conservation history, the recent treatment, and the final removal of the overpainting, since these are dealt with at length in the thesis. However, without the knowledge gained from this earlier study, it would have been impossible to present a well-founded interpretation of Lairesse’s painting technique.

  3. 3. Although Lairesse completed the Groot Schilderboek in 1707, it was not published until 1740.

  4. 4. Doodverven, opschilderen, and nazien or retocqueeren. NB All English translations from the Groot Schilderboek in this article are by Lyckle de Vries and are taken from the CD-ROM that accompanies Lyckle de Vries, How to Create Beauty: De Lairesse on the Theory and Practice of Making Art (Leiden: Primavera Press, 2011.

  5. 5. Accounts dating from 1678 record that Lairesse was paid 2,300 guilders for unspecified paintings. These were probably the six paintings that were still hanging in Mary Stuart’s apartments in Soestdijk Palace in 1699. Broos, Liefde, List en Lijden, 182; S. W. A. Drossaers and Th.H. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Inventarissen van de inboedels van de verblijven van de Oranjes en daarmede gelijk te stellen stukken. 1567–1795 (The Hague, 1974–-76), pt. 1, p. 622nn 24 and 28.

  6. 6. Besides the above-mentioned series, the Soestdijk inventories also list works painted in collaboration by Lairesse and the landscape painter Jan Glauber. Drossaers, Inventarissen van de inboedels, 1:621–22.

  7. 7. On the basis of stylistic considerations, Alain Roy dates the pieces later, to between 1676 and 1682. Alain Roy, Gérard de Lairesse (1640–1711) (Paris: Arthena, 1992), 290.

  8. 8. P. H. Rem and M. B. W. Broekema, “Soestdijk, lustlot voor de held van Waterloo: Een nadere beschouwing van de stilistische en iconografische aspecten van een vorstelijk verblijf,” Jaarboek Oud-Utrecht (1989): 97–98.

  9. 9. Heimerick Tromp, Het Koninklijke Paleis Soestdijk historisch gezien (Zutphen: De Walburg Pers, 1987), 62–63.

  10. 10. Derk P. Snoep, “Gerard Lairesse als plafond- en kamerschilder,” Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 18, no. 4 (1970): 189.

  11. 11. “Beschilderen der Vertrekken,” in Gerard de Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1740 (repr. Doornspik: Davaco Publishers, 1969), 1:373, 375; 2:71, 72.

  12. 12. Snoep, “Gerard Lairesse als plafond,” 218.

  13. 13. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:375: “Dat ik een Beeldstuk op de schoorsteen ordineer, is om dat dezelve het voornaamste van de kamer is: want wat eigenschap kan daar een Landschap hebben, welkers horizont buiten, ja verre beneeden het schildery moet weezen; waarom men dan op die voornaame plaats niet als een enkele lucht zou beschouwen?”

  14. 14. Originally Soestdijk Palace, 1799; National Museum, 1808.

  15. 15. In the eighteenth century a new central scene was painted: Apollo Hunting the Night. This piece was long attributed to Lairesse, with (as was thought) eighteenth-century overpainting. A research project conducted in 1982 disproved the attribution and showed that the work was in fact painted in the eighteenth century. Besides Bacchus and Ariadne, another supraporte in the side room is mentioned in the “Catalogus Kunst-galery 1801.” It is listed as Zephyrus and Flora and was sold in 1828. Its current whereabouts are unknown. See E. W. Moes, and E. van Biema, De Nationale Konst-Gallery en het Koninklijk Museum (Amsterdam, 1909), 38.

  16. 16. Originally Soestdijk Palace, 1799; National Museum, 1808. The myth of Endymion is told by Pliny the Elder and Alexander of Aphrodisias.

  17. 17. Originally Soestdijk Palace, 1799; National Museum, 1808. Both scenes are based on descriptions in Homer’s Odyssey.

  18. 18. Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. Frank Justus Miller, Loeb Classical Library 42 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), bk. 8, p. 196.

  19. 19. According to Broos, this description refers to the painting in question. Broos, Liefde, List en Lijden, 181.

  20. 20. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:96: “ik heb haar met een droef gelaat vertoond, wyzende met de oogen vol traanen Zeewaard in, na de trouwlooze Theseus, de beweegende oorzaak haarer droefheid, verder was Bacchus aandachtig daar by, welkers mantel door Cupido oopen geslaagen wierd, om daar meede te kennen te geeven, dat vermids Ariadne onbewust was, wie zy voor had, een mens of een God, daarom de Liefde allengs zyn goddelykheid ontblooten, en zyn vermoogen haar te kennen gaf.”

  21. 21. According to versions other than Ovid’s, Theseus leaves Ariadne sleeping on the beach. She is therefore often depicted lying on a bed. See E. M. Moormann and W. Uitterhoeve, Van Achilleus tot Zeus: Thema’s uit de klassieke mythologie in literatuur, muziek, beeldende kunst en theater (Nijmegen, SUN, 1990), 55.

  22. 22. This became visible only after the removal of the nonoriginal blue overpainting. The overmantel painting Selene and Endymion was examined using infrared reflectography, without revealing any evidence of an arched top. Neither of the supraportes (which were not examined using infrared) shows any indication of an arched top in the sky sections. However, these had not been expected to yield any new discoveries, both being heavily overpainted. Since Bacchus and Ariadne was the only painting in the study adjoining Mary Stuart’s bedroom, the difference is not surprising.

  23. 23. In 2005 the painting was given its present pine frame with a plain profile; the wood is stained and is adorned with gilded decorative acanthus foliage molding. Dimensions 200 x 117.5 x 5.4 cm.

  24. 24. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:374. “Onder elke balk moet wat zijn, of pilaster of term; of, in plaats van die, moest het Stuk boven rond lopen als een boog.”

  25. 25. Calypso’s hand in Mercury Ordering Calypso to Release Odysseus from the same series shows a similar pentimento.

  26. 26. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:29. “De handen moeten altoos een ongelyke beweeging hebben, ziet men de een van binnen, de andere zal men van buyten vertoonen, de een hangende, de andere opgetild: het onderste deel des arms verkort zynde.”

  27. 27. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:67–69.

  28. 28. Eric Jan Sluijter, De ‘heydensche fabulen’ in de schilderkunst van de Gouden Eeuw: Schilderijen met verhalende onderwerpen uit de klassieke mythologie in de Noordelijke Nederlanden, circa 1590–1670 (Leiden: Primavera Press, 2000), 80, 144.

  29. 29. Lyckle de Vries, Gerard de Lairesse: An Artist between Stage and Studio (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998), 98. De Vries assesses the meaning of Lairesse’s texts in a broad context.

  30. 30. The paintings were examined by the naked eye as well as by raking light, ultraviolet radiation, infrared (IR-1 and IR-2), and microscope. Paint cross-sections were studied using light microscopy in natural light and by ultraviolet radiation. The analysis of paint samples and cross-sections was conducted using SEM/EDX and DTMS at the FOM Institute AMOLF by Annelies van Loon and Jaap Boon. For further details, see the appendices in Blok, “Bacchus en Ariadne.”

  31. 31. Samuel van Hoogstraten, Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst: Anders de Zichtbaere Werelt, 1678 (facsimile, n.p.: Davaco Publishers, 1969), 339. Van Hoogstraten mentions that linen, gauze, or ticking is most suitable for large size pieces. “Lywaet, gaes, of tijk, is bequaemst voor groote stukken.”

  32. 32. The canvas has approximately 18 threads per cm in the warp direction (vertical, parallel to selvedge), and 16 threads per cm in the weft direction (horizontal). With its width and weave it corresponds to the practice of seventeenth-century Dutch painting. See Ernst van de Wetering, Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2000), 96 and 123–24. The canvas is lined with wax resin. For further references, see Blok, “Bacchus en Ariadne.”

  33. 33. Lairesse’s three-part painting on canvas The Triumph on Peace, 1672 (The Hague, Peace Palace), also has a (grayish-) brown colored ground consisting of two layers. M. van Eikema Hommes, T. van Run, K. Keune, I. Verslype,, A. Wallert, M. den Leeuw, I. de Jongh, “Discoveries during the Technical Investigation of Gerard de Lairesse’s Earliest Known Ceiling Painting (1672),” in Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice (5th International Symposium, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, September 18–20, 2013), 147. Most northwest European seventeenth-century canvas preparation recipes advised grayish ground colors, next to white and ochre, flesh colored, or even orange grounds. Such colors could play an important role in the finished paintings. See Maartje Stols-Witlox, “‘By no means a trivial matter’: The Influence of the Color of Ground Layers on Artists’ Working Methods and on the Appearance of Oil Paintings, According to Historical Recipes from North West Europe c. 1550–1900,” Oud Holland 128, no. 4 (2015): 172.

  34. 34. Almost all paint cross-sections display two ground layers, a dark one below and a lighter one on top. Paint cross-sections 1 and 18 were analyzed with SEM/EDX to illuminate the components. In the first layer Fe and Ca indicate umber and chalk. In the second layer Fe, Pb, and Ca indicate umber, lead white, and chalk. Since all the ground layers in the other paint cross-sections correspond morphologically, it can be concluded that they have the same composition.

  35. 35. The other paintings in the series display similar coarse particles in the ground.

  36. 36. Maartje Stols-Witlox, A Perfect Ground: Preparatory Layers for Oil Paintings 1550–1900 (London: Archetype Publications, 2017), 136. No other eighteenth- or nineteenth-century authors offer such specific advice on ground colors for different subjects.

  37. 37. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:331: “Deze grond, aldus bereid en hard droog zynde, heeft drie wenschelyke hoedanigheden: voor eerst gemakkelyk, omdat ze gelyk en dof is; weshalven de verwen, hoe dun die ook zyn, ten eersten vatten; net welk een gladde of blinkende grond niet toelaat, ten tweden, bestendig, door haare overeenkomste met de tinten en koleur die men daar over heen strykt, welke hunne volkomene schoonheid van kracht behouden; hetgeen niet geschieden kan wanneer de grond van een andere koleur of tint is, gelyk wit op zwart, lichtblauw op donker-geel of rood, en zo voort; schynende door de lankheid van tyd meer en meer door, al ware het nog zo vet in de verw aangelegt: en ten darden, vaardig, gelyk ik zeg, voor die een vaste hand en vlug penceel heeft, om zyn Concept met den eersten te voltooijen; ’t welk anders, zonder het eerst te doodverwen, niet kan geschieden.”

  38. 38. An Artist Camera is used, with a range of 750–1200 nm; IR-1 up to 950 nm and IR-2 from 950 to 1200 nm.

  39. 39. Paint cross-section 13.

  40. 40. Paint cross-section 18 was examined using SEM/EDX.

  41. 41. Paint cross-section 18 of this layer, when examined by SEM/EDX, revealed the presence of P, Ca, and Pb.

  42. 42. Eikema Hommes, et al., “Discoveries,” 148 and 149. Lairesse used a “rough scratch” (loose sketch) for designing ceiling paintings. Until now there is no account of obvious traces of such sketching phase in small-scale (easel) paintings.

  43. 43. Paint sample (12) deriving from the blue-sky section was analyzed using DTMS and reveals linseed oil (m/z 91).

  44. 44. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:36: “hoogsels en diepsels” . . . “schommelde en verdreef.”

  45. 45. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 2:36 and 1:16.

  46. 46. Houding: contribution of colors to the suggestion of three-dimensionality. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 208.

  47. 47. Welstand: optimal quality, resulting from coherence and interaction of all components of a work of art. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 216.

  48. 48. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:12 and 13: “Om nu niet vergeefs te arbeiden, zo moetmen voornamelyk in acht neemen, dat de algemeene houding, wel waargenomen word: dat de tinten en verwen zodanig geschikt zyn, dat na vereis der wyking en afstand, en het stuk uit der hand gezien werdende, alles een volkomen welstand heeft, en zyn behoorlyke eigenschappen bezit: dan zal er weinig moeiten tot het opmaaken vereist worden.”

  49. 49. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:13 and 14: “Hier moetmen, om de beste manier te volgen, van achter beginnen, te weeten de lucht, en dus allengs na vooren toe, zo behoud men altoos een bekwame en vogtige grond achter de Beelden, om den uitersten omtrek daarin te doen verdwynen, het welk, anders begonnen, ondoenelyk is.”

  50. 50. Wyking: suggestion of distance through color perspective. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 216.

  51. 51. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek,1:14.

  52. 52. This method corresponds to the results of the examinations of the other paintings in the series, as discussed below.

  53. 53. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 34–39.

  54. 54. Treatises and manuals on painting devoted attention to the rendering of human skin from the Middle Ages onward. See A. S. Lehmann, “Vleeskleuren,” Kunstschrift 5 (1998): 10–22.

  55. 55. Gloeijend (of a color): having warmth and intensity. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 207.

  56. 56. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:38: “Een blank en teder vrouwenbeeld wordt met wit en bruynrood gedoodverwd, in ’t opschilderen wit en een weinig vermilioen gebruykt. Voor een jongeman, desgelijks, doch men mengd een weinig lichte ooker daaronder.”

  57. 57. Beeld: representation of a human figure in art. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 204.

  58. 58. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:14 and 15: “Indien nu, hier of daar, het naakt te licht mogt zyn, zo mengd een weinig ligten ooker, Vermiljoen, Bruyn rood, Lak of Aspalt, na de koleur teder of robust is, onder de Vernis, en Lakseerd het dunnetjes over.”

  59. 59. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:36 and 39: “Steek daar een zagte vispenseel in, schommeld dan met uw blaauw op de tederste partyen, al verdryvende, zo zal men bevinden dat de gemelde tederheid, in ider een byzondere, en natuurlyke koleur zal voortbrengen.”

  60. 60. This layer is discussed in more detail in the section Binding Medium below.

  61. 61. Paint cross-section 2.

  62. 62. Paint cross-section 3.

  63. 63. Paint cross-section 1 was examined using SEM/EDX. In the second layer Hg indicates vermilion, Ca and P indicate bone white, Al indicates an aluminium substrate, Pb and Ca indicate lead white and chalk, Al and Si indicate yellow ochre, P, Ca, and Pb indicate bone black.

  64. 64. Research has demonstrated that potassium migrates from the smalt particles to the binding medium. In consequence, the structure of the glass alters, causing the glass to corrode. In these conditions the color changes from blue to light pink. The discoloration increases the layer’s transparency, revealing the paint layers below. This could result in gray or brown tones. See J. J. Boon, et al., “Imaging Microspectroscopic, Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometric and Electron Microscopic Studies on Discolored and Partially Discolored Smalt in Cross-sections of 16th-century Paintings,” CHIMIA 55, no. 11 (2001): 952–60. SEM/EDX analysis reveals a relatively small quantity of potassium.

  65. 65. The ratio between Si and K is indicative of the discoloration of smalt particles. Intact smalt has a ratio of approx. 4:1. With SEM/EDX the proportion of potassium was measured in paint cross-section 1 (wt%, semi-quantitative): Si 69.49, As 8.16, Al 1.41, K 2.46, Ca 2.41, Fe 7.31 and Co 8.76.

  66. 66. The “turbid medium effect” refers to the phenomenon whereby a lower layer of color, covered by a semiopaque light or white layer, results in a blue, cool tone.

  67. 67. Paint cross-section 4 was examined using SEM/EDX. In the top layer Al indicates (red) lake on aluminum substrate, Ca indicates chalk, Pb (a.o.) indicates earth pigment.

  68. 68. Paint cross-section 5.  

  69. 69. Paint cross-section 6.

  70. 70. BINAS: Informatieboek in de natuurwetenschappen (Groningen: Noordhoff, 1992), table 32: “Gegevens over de atmosfeer van de aarde.”

  71. 71. Van Hoogstraten’s treatise Zichtbaere Werelt (1678) was an important example as well as an influential source for Lairesse’s Schilderboek. Whereas Van Hoogstraten discusses practical matters rather briefly, Lairesse adds some practical advice. De Vries, Gerard de Lairesse, 80 and 81. On atmospheric and color perspective Van Hoogstraten offers a rather theoretical description. Hoogstraten, Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst, 264 and 265: “De verhindering, die de gemeene dikte der lucht, of eenigen mist, nevel of rook geeft, bezwalpt ook de verwen. En men ziet dat de koleuren der dingen ook vermindert worden door het verre af zijn, voornamentlijk, in de ope lucht; want die vermindering in een besloten gebouw, geschiet veel meer door het verre af zijn van het licht, en verdonkering, als door de dikte der locht, die, hoe klaer weder het is, echter de dingen, die ver af zijn, belet en belemmert, omze zoo klaer, als van naby, in haere verwe te onder scheyden. Het schijnt dat de locht zelf in een kleyne wijtte een lichaem maekt, en zich met Hemel verwe bekleedende alleen of meest aen de verlichte dingen toelaet zich te vertoonen.”

  72. 72. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:251: “Het is ook een blykelyke zaak, dat, hoe digter de lucht zich aan het aardryk bevind, hoe grover en dikker dezelve is: en na maate ze naar boven trekt, verdunt zy zich, en word doorluchtiger.”

  73. 73. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:207 and 214: “De koleuren geeven, ten opzichte der schilderconst het leeven aan alle dingen. Zij doen de dingen in de dunne lucht verdwijnen, en andere met geweld uit de gronden te voorschijn komen. . . . Verder is zeer nodig op te merken, dat, gelijk de voorwerpen in een groote distantie verkleenen, desgelijks na maate der zelve koleuren moeten verminderen, en allengs grauwer werden. De natuur leert ons het zelve.”

  74. 74. Lairesse is referring here to Bartholet Flémal.

  75. 75. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:332: “als hy een Conterfeitsel zoude schilderen met een purper of zwart kleed, het zelve kleed vlak aanleide met een eenpaarig donker purper, of enkeld zwart, zonder eenige plooijen: en daar na, als hy het zoude opmaaken, hoogde en diepte hy alleenlyk. Dus doende wierd het ten eersten opgeschilderd.”

  76. 76. Paint cross-section 18 was examined using SEM/EDX. In the third layer Pb, P, and Ca indicate bone black and lead white, Pb, Fe, and Si indicate lead white and (red) ochre, in the fourth layer Al indicates (red) lake on aluminum substrate, in the fifth layer P and Ca indicate bone black, Al indicates (red) lake on aluminum substrate.

  77. 77. Paint cross-section 19.

  78. 78. Paint cross-section 20. 

  79. 79. Paint cross-section 21.

  80. 80. This may be attributable to the darkened ground, although the wax resin components in the lining may also have played a role.

  81. 81. Rem and Broekema, “Soestdijk, lustlot voor de held van Waterloo,” 98.

  82. 82. Paint cross-sections 10, 11, and 12 were examined using SEM/EDX. Pb indicates lead white, Ca indicates chalk and Hg indicates vermilion. DTMS to analyze indigo in a pigment scraping (12). In the mass spectrum, peaks 234 and 262 (m/z) demonstrate the presence of indigo.

  83. 83. Paint cross-section 14.

  84. 84. Margriet van Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures: Discoloration in 15th–17th-century Oil Paintings (London: Archetype, 2004), 91–169.

  85. 85. Coarse particles have a lower surface/volume ratio than fine particles, therefore causing less light scattering.

  86. 86. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 128, 129.

  87. 87. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek,1:331: “Tot deze gronden zal men geen fyne en kostelyke verwen gebruiken, maar gemeene, als zy slechts lyvig zyn en wel dekken. Tot het blaauw zal men nemen Indigo en wit.”

  88. 88. Indigo paint was found in paint cross-sections 1207-15 and 1207-19 of Lairesse’s ceiling paintings. It was identified by Matthijs de Keijzer, on the basis of its morphology.

  89. 89. J. A. van de Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript als bron voor de schildertechniek van de Barok, British Museum, Sloane 2052 (Mijdrecht: Verweij, 1958), 42 and 43.

  90. 90. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 128 and 129.

  91. 91. As far as is known, Frans Hals (1581/85–1666) was the first painter to use indigo in this way for major commissions. In 1627 he painted the portraits of two civic militias: St George and St Adrian. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 137 and 139.

  92. 92. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 24. Besides Lairesse, instructions on this specific use are given by De Mayerne (1620) and Smith (1692).

  93. 93. Contemporary practical treatises such as John Bate’s (1634) and Pierre Lebrun’s (1635) offer recipes related to applying paint at greater speed. John Bate, The Mysteries of Nature and Art (London, 1634), reproduced in Portrait Painting in England: Studies in the Technical Literature before 1700, by Mansfield Kirby Talley (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1981), 168: “Mixture of fat oil and linseed oil dries quickly and is used when painter has haste: Divers painters there are, who having haste of work, do use to temper their colors with one part of fat oyl, and two of common linseed oyl, and by this meanes they make the colors dry the sooner: this fat oyl is only linseed oyl exposed to the weather, and so it becomes thicker, yet sometimes you shall see it so thick, that you may almost cut it like butter.” Pierre Lebrun, Recueil des essais des merveilles de la peinture or Brussels Manuscript: Ms. 15,552, in Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting, transcribed by Mary P. Merrifield (London: John Murray, 1849; repr. 1999), 820: “Parchment glue and oil priming are ground together and applied to the canvas. The author states that this mixture hardens instantly, which is very convenient for those in haste.”

  94. 94. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 24.

  95. 95. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:14 and 15.

  96. 96. Paint cross-sections 2 and 16.  

  97. 97. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:15: “Indien nu, hier of daar het naakt te licht mogt zijn, zo gemengd een weinig ligten ooker, Vermilioen, Bruyn rood, Lak of Aspalt, na de koleur teder of robust is, onder de Vernis, en lakseerd het dunnetjes over: dan daar op gehoogd met zodanig een koleur als men bekwaam oordeeld . . . en op deze wyze, mag men zich verzekerd houden, dat het wel zal uitvallen, behoevende alsdan niet bekommerd te zijn dat de verwen, in het droogen, zullen inschieten.”

  98. 98. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:39: “Het beeld, dat gy gezind zyt te voltooijen, haald hetzelve dunnetjes uit met vernis, door welke gy een weing lichten ooker getemperd zuld hebben: zet dan uwe uiterfte hoogzels daar op, en verdryfd dezelve heel zagjens in het nat, zo verre als gy begeerd.”

  99. 99. Maartje Stols-Witlox kindly provided me with several possible recipes, and suggested their various uses, on the basis of expertise gained in the De Mayerne programme. Maartje Stols-Witlox, “Final Varnishes for Oil Paintings in Holland, 1600–1900: Evidence from Written Sources,” Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung 19, no. 1 (2001): 241–85.

  100. 100. De Mayerne instructs as follows: “driers for oil: Ceruse or lead white whitens the oil as well as litharge, but makes it more fat and thick; minium is better.” Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript, 162, no. 38.

  101. 101. De Mayerne instructs as follows: “Drying oil of litharge: Take nut oil as much as you wish and the same amount of fresh water; put it in a pot, where there is powdered gold litharge 2 ounces per pound. Put everything on a slow fire, stir with a spatula until it boil. Cease to stir and leave boiling slowly for at least half an hour. A little more is okay, does not become thick. Pour off like varnish, & is clear as water.” Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript, 187, no. 115.

  102. 102. De Mayerne instructs as follows: “To make your oil beautifully white and clear as water: Take lytharge of gold very pure 1/2 ounce, minium 2 Drachmen, nutoil an English pint, make it boil together on a slow fire for one hour. Sometimes the oil thickens so much that you could cut it with a knife, . . . it becomes clear and liquid. Sometimes it does not thicken at all. Having separated it from impurities put it in a glass jar in the sun. And it bleaches and clears your oil extremely. N.B. March sun is the best of all the year for this effect and bleaches most. April and May are not bad, and better than the whole of the following year.” Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript, 186, no. 111.

  103. 103. Paint cross-section 16.  

  104. 104. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:39.

  105. 105. Before the start of the conservation treatment in 2005, the painting was covered with a thick, yellow varnish layer. This layer proved not to be by Lairesse. The paint cross-sections show that the present varnish was applied when cracks appeared in the paint layers.

  106. 106. E. van Rietschoten, M. Staal, P. Eurlings, I. Kneepkens, and T. van Run, “Paintings by the Rules of Art: The Groot Schilderboek on Technique; Lievens and Lairesse Compared,” in Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice (5th International Symposium, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, September 18–20, 2013), 141.

  107. 107. Paint cross-section 1207-12 was examined using SEM/EDX.

  108. 108. De Vries, Gerard de Lairesse, 98.  

Bate, John. The Mysteries of Nature and Art. London, 1634. Reproduced in Portrait Painting in England: Studies in the Technical Literature before 1700, by Mansfield Kirby Talley. London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1981.

BINAS: Informatieboek in de natuurwetenschappen. Groningen: Noordhoff, 1992.

Blok, Vera. “Bacchus en Ariadne: Onderzoek naar en behandeling van een interieurstuk van Gerard de Lairesse.” The Hague: Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis Foundation, 2006 (unpublished).

Boon, J. J., et al. “Imaging Microspectroscopic, Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometric and Electron Microscopic Studies on Discolored and Partially Discolored Smalt in Cross-sections of 16th-century Paintings.” CHIMIA 55, no. 11 (2001): 952–60.

Broos, Ben. Liefde, List en Lijden: Historiestukken in het Mauritshuis. The Hague: Mauritshuis/Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, 1993.

Drossaers, S. W. A. and Th.H. Lunsingh Scheurleer. Inventarissen van de inboedels van de verblijven van de Oranjes en daarmede gelijk te stellen stukken. 1567–1795. 3 vols. The Hague, 1974–76.

Eikema Hommes, Margriet van. Changing Pictures: Discoloration in 15th–17th-century Oil Paintings. London: Archetype, 2004.

Eikema Hommes, M. van, T. van Run, K. Keune, I. Verslype, A. Wallert, M. den Leeuw, and I. de Jongh. “Discoveries during the Technical Investigation of Gerard de Lairesse’s Earliest Known Ceiling Painting (1672).” In Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice, 145–52. 5th International Symposium, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, September 18–20, 2013.

Graaf, J. A. van de. Het De Mayerne manuscript als bron voor de schildertechniek van de Barok, British Museum, Sloane 2052. Mijdrecht: Verweij, 1958.  

Hoogstraten, Samuel van. Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst: Anders de Zichtbaere Werelt. 1678. Facsimile. N.p.: Davaco Publishers, 1969.

Lairesse, Gerard de. Groot Schilderboek. 2 vols. Haarlem: Johannes Marshoorn, 1740. Reprint. Doornspik: Davaco Publishers, 1969.

Lebrun, Pierre. Recueil des essais des merveilles de la peinture, or Brussels Manuscript: Ms. 15,552. In Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting, transcribed by Mary P. Merrifield, 890. London: John Murray, 1849. Reprint. 1999.   Lehmann, A. S. “Vleeskleuren.” Kunstschrift 5 (1998): 10–22.

Moes, E. W., and E. van Biema. De Nationale Konst-Gallery en het Koninklijk Museum. Amsterdam, 1909.  

Moormann, E. M., and W. Uitterhoeve. Van Achilleus tot Zeus: Thema’s uit de klassieke mythologie in literatuur, muziek, beeldende kunst en theater. Nijmegen: SUN, 1990.  

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Books 1–8. Translated by Frank Justus Miller. Loeb Classical Library 42. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993.  

Rem, P. H., and M. B. W. Broekema. “Soestdijk, lustlot voor de held van Waterloo: Een nadere beschouwing van de stilistische en iconografische aspecten van een vorstelijk verblijf.” Jaarboek Oud-Utrecht (1989): 96–108.

Rietschoten, E. van, M. Staal, P. Eurlings, I. Kneepkens, and T. van Run. “Paintings by the Rules of Art: The Groot Schilderboek on Technique; Lievens and De Lairesse Compared.” In Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice,138–44. 5th International Symposium, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, September 18–20, 2013.

Roy, Alain. Gérard de Lairesse (1640–1711) Paris: Arthena, 1992.  

Sluijter, Eric Jan. De ‘heydensche fabulen’ in de schilderkunst van de Gouden Eeuw: Schilderijen met verhalende onderwerpen uit de klassieke mythologie in de Noordelijke Nederlanden, circa 1590–1670. Leiden: Primavera Press, 2000.

Snoep, Derk P. “Gerard Lairesse als plafond- en kamerschilder.” Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 18, no. 4 (1970): 159–220.

Stols-Witlox, Maartje. “‘By no means a trivial matter’: The Influence of the Color of Ground Layers on Artists’ Working Methods and on the Appearance of Oil Paintings, According to Historical Recipes from North West Europe c. 1550–1900.” Oud Holland 128, no. 4 (2015): 171–86.

Stols-Witlox, Maartje. “Final Varnishes for Oil Paintings in Holland, 1600–1900: Evidence from Written Sources.” Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung 19, no. 1 (2001): 241–85.

Stols-Witlox, Maartje. A Perfect Ground: Preparatory Layers for Oil Paintings 1550–1900. London: Archetype Publications, 2017.

Tromp, Heimerick. Het Koninklijke Paleis Soestdijk historisch gezien. Zutphen: De Walburg Pers, 1987.

Vries, Lyckle de. Gerard de Lairesse: An Artist between Stage and Studio. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998.

Vries, Lyckle de. How to Create Beauty: De Lairesse on the Theory and Practice of Making Art. Leiden: Primavera Press, 2011 (includes CD-ROM containing the English translation of volume 1 of Gerard de Lairesse’s Groot Schilderboek).

Wetering, Ernst van de. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2000.

List of Illustrations

Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne,  ca. 1680,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 1 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne, ca. 1680, canvas, 175.5 x 93cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-C-170683 (on loan from the Mauritshuis, inv. 83) (artwork in the public domain; photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Maurits Post, Map of Soestdijk Palace, 1674–78, Royal House Archives
Fig. 2 Map of Soestdijk Palace, architect Maurits Post, 1674–78. Royal House Archives. Red indicates Mary Stuart’s apartment (photo: Royal House Archives) [side-by-side viewer]
J. de Greef, Map of Soestdijk Palace, 1815–1, Royal House Archives
Fig. 3 Map of Soestdijk Palace, architect J. de Greef, 1815–1. Royal House Archives. Red indicates Waterloo Hall, formerly Mary Stuart’s apartment (photo: Royal House Archives) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Five-part Ceiling Decoration for the Great Hall o,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 4 Gerard de Lairesse, Five-part Ceiling Decoration for the Great Hall of Soestdijk Palace, canvas, 600 x 800 cm (4 parts, each 300 x 400 cm). Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum inv. SK-A1233 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Selene and Endymion,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 5 Gerard de Lairesse, Selene and Endymion, canvas, 177 x 118.5 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A 4210 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Odysseus and Calypso,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 6 Gerard de Lairesse, Odysseus and Calypso, canvas, 125 x 94 cm, signed: G. Lairesse f. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A211 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Mercury Ordering Calypso to Release Odysseus,  Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum
Fig. 7 Gerard de Lairesse, Mercury Ordering Calypso to Release Odysseus, canvas, 132 x 96 cm, signed: G. Lairesse. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A212 (artwork in the public domain; photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 8 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), pentimento in hand of Bacchus (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne,
Fig. 9 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne, lead white particles in ground layer, macro picture 320x, 16 cm ↓ 5 cm ← (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Paint cross-section 1: lower abdomen of Ariadne,
Fig. 10 Paint cross-section 1: lower abdomen of Ariadne, DF 200x (photo: Vera Blok)
(5) Thin layer of lead white, chalk, and discolored smalt
(4) Layer of lead white, chalk, vermilion, red lake, yellow ochre, calcium phosphate, bone black
(3) Two layers of lead white and vermilion with a medium layer in between
(2) Ground layer with lead white, umber, and chalk
(1) Ground layer with umber, chalk. and red earth pigment [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne,
Fig. 11 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne, brushstroke in ground layer, macro picture 80x, 10 cm ↓ 11,5 cm ← (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 12 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), IR-2, accentuation of arch at left in sky area (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 13 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), IR-2, the vague vertical line in the contour of dark shadow in the purple drapery corresponds with carbon-containing dead coloring layer (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 14 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), impasto in wooden sphinx (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 15 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), highlight of Ariadne’s arm (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 16 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), damaged paint layer in shadow area of Ariadne’s arm (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]
Paint cross-section 5: flesh color of Bacchus’s,
Fig. 17 Paint cross-section 5: flesh color of Bacchus’s nostril, BF 200x (photo: Vera Blok)
(5) Thin red layer with little or no lead white and some red pigment particles
(4) Light pink layer with lead white and red earth pigment
(3) Red layer with red earth pigment, a red lake and lead white with on top a medium layer
(2) Ground layer with lead white, umber, and chalk
(1) Ground layer with umber, chalk, and red earth pigment [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 18 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), cool highlights of purple drapery (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Maurits Post, Map of Soestdijk Palace, 1674–78, Royal House Archives
Fig. 19 Map of Soestdijk Palace, architect Maurits Post, 1674–78, Royal House Archives. Red indicates location of Bacchus and Ariadne in the cabinet (photo: Royal House Archives) [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 20 Gerard de Lairesse, Bacchus and Ariadne (detail), arched blue sky area (photo: Mauritshuis, Photography Department) [side-by-side viewer]
Paint cross-section 16: blue drapery of maenad wi,
Fig. 21 Paint cross-section 16: blue drapery of maenad with two thin fluorescing layers, UV 200x (photo: Vera Blok).
(8) Residue of varnish
(7) Indigo with probably lead white and some chalk
(6) Red layer
(5) Thin brown red layer
(4) Dark brown layer with on top a medium layer
(3) Dark red brown layer with on top a medium layer
(2) Ground layer with lead white, umber, and chalk
(1) Ground layer with umber, chalk, and red earth pigment [side-by-side viewer]
Gerard de Lairesse,  Bacchus and Ariadne (detail),
Fig. 22 Gerard de Lairesse; Bacchus and Ariadne (detail); (photo: Vera Blok) [side-by-side viewer]

Footnotes

  1. 1. This painting’s provenance differs from that of the other pieces in the series. This is described in detail by Ben Broos, Liefde, List en Lijden: Historiestukken in het Mauritshuis (The Hague: Mauritshuis/Ghent: Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, 1993): Soestdijk Palace, 1674–1799; Nationale Konst-Gallery, Huis ten Bosch, The Hague, 1800–1805; Nationaal Kabinet (Koninklijk Museum), ‘Besogne-Kamer en Gallerij Willem V,’ The Hague, 1806–1822; Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1822–2012; on loan to the Rijksmuseum from 2012.

  2. 2. The research and treatment were conducted as part of an internship for a Postgraduate Diploma in Easel Paintings at the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL). The research and treatment were conducted in the Mauritshuis. This article is an abridged version of the resulting thesis: Vera Blok, “Bacchus en Ariadne: Onderzoek naar en behandeling van een interieurstuk van Gerard de Lairesse,” (The Hague: royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis Foundation, 2006). The thesis discusses the conservation history of Bacchus and Ariadne and the restoration carried out in 2006. The conservation history was reconstructed in order to understand the background of a specific radical change to the painting: an overpainting of the sky section with Prussian blue in 1799–1800. The present article deals with a different issue; it does not discuss the conservation history, the recent treatment, and the final removal of the overpainting, since these are dealt with at length in the thesis. However, without the knowledge gained from this earlier study, it would have been impossible to present a well-founded interpretation of Lairesse’s painting technique.

  3. 3. Although Lairesse completed the Groot Schilderboek in 1707, it was not published until 1740.

  4. 4. Doodverven, opschilderen, and nazien or retocqueeren. NB All English translations from the Groot Schilderboek in this article are by Lyckle de Vries and are taken from the CD-ROM that accompanies Lyckle de Vries, How to Create Beauty: De Lairesse on the Theory and Practice of Making Art (Leiden: Primavera Press, 2011.

  5. 5. Accounts dating from 1678 record that Lairesse was paid 2,300 guilders for unspecified paintings. These were probably the six paintings that were still hanging in Mary Stuart’s apartments in Soestdijk Palace in 1699. Broos, Liefde, List en Lijden, 182; S. W. A. Drossaers and Th.H. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Inventarissen van de inboedels van de verblijven van de Oranjes en daarmede gelijk te stellen stukken. 1567–1795 (The Hague, 1974–-76), pt. 1, p. 622nn 24 and 28.

  6. 6. Besides the above-mentioned series, the Soestdijk inventories also list works painted in collaboration by Lairesse and the landscape painter Jan Glauber. Drossaers, Inventarissen van de inboedels, 1:621–22.

  7. 7. On the basis of stylistic considerations, Alain Roy dates the pieces later, to between 1676 and 1682. Alain Roy, Gérard de Lairesse (1640–1711) (Paris: Arthena, 1992), 290.

  8. 8. P. H. Rem and M. B. W. Broekema, “Soestdijk, lustlot voor de held van Waterloo: Een nadere beschouwing van de stilistische en iconografische aspecten van een vorstelijk verblijf,” Jaarboek Oud-Utrecht (1989): 97–98.

  9. 9. Heimerick Tromp, Het Koninklijke Paleis Soestdijk historisch gezien (Zutphen: De Walburg Pers, 1987), 62–63.

  10. 10. Derk P. Snoep, “Gerard Lairesse als plafond- en kamerschilder,” Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 18, no. 4 (1970): 189.

  11. 11. “Beschilderen der Vertrekken,” in Gerard de Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1740 (repr. Doornspik: Davaco Publishers, 1969), 1:373, 375; 2:71, 72.

  12. 12. Snoep, “Gerard Lairesse als plafond,” 218.

  13. 13. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:375: “Dat ik een Beeldstuk op de schoorsteen ordineer, is om dat dezelve het voornaamste van de kamer is: want wat eigenschap kan daar een Landschap hebben, welkers horizont buiten, ja verre beneeden het schildery moet weezen; waarom men dan op die voornaame plaats niet als een enkele lucht zou beschouwen?”

  14. 14. Originally Soestdijk Palace, 1799; National Museum, 1808.

  15. 15. In the eighteenth century a new central scene was painted: Apollo Hunting the Night. This piece was long attributed to Lairesse, with (as was thought) eighteenth-century overpainting. A research project conducted in 1982 disproved the attribution and showed that the work was in fact painted in the eighteenth century. Besides Bacchus and Ariadne, another supraporte in the side room is mentioned in the “Catalogus Kunst-galery 1801.” It is listed as Zephyrus and Flora and was sold in 1828. Its current whereabouts are unknown. See E. W. Moes, and E. van Biema, De Nationale Konst-Gallery en het Koninklijk Museum (Amsterdam, 1909), 38.

  16. 16. Originally Soestdijk Palace, 1799; National Museum, 1808. The myth of Endymion is told by Pliny the Elder and Alexander of Aphrodisias.

  17. 17. Originally Soestdijk Palace, 1799; National Museum, 1808. Both scenes are based on descriptions in Homer’s Odyssey.

  18. 18. Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. Frank Justus Miller, Loeb Classical Library 42 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), bk. 8, p. 196.

  19. 19. According to Broos, this description refers to the painting in question. Broos, Liefde, List en Lijden, 181.

  20. 20. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:96: “ik heb haar met een droef gelaat vertoond, wyzende met de oogen vol traanen Zeewaard in, na de trouwlooze Theseus, de beweegende oorzaak haarer droefheid, verder was Bacchus aandachtig daar by, welkers mantel door Cupido oopen geslaagen wierd, om daar meede te kennen te geeven, dat vermids Ariadne onbewust was, wie zy voor had, een mens of een God, daarom de Liefde allengs zyn goddelykheid ontblooten, en zyn vermoogen haar te kennen gaf.”

  21. 21. According to versions other than Ovid’s, Theseus leaves Ariadne sleeping on the beach. She is therefore often depicted lying on a bed. See E. M. Moormann and W. Uitterhoeve, Van Achilleus tot Zeus: Thema’s uit de klassieke mythologie in literatuur, muziek, beeldende kunst en theater (Nijmegen, SUN, 1990), 55.

  22. 22. This became visible only after the removal of the nonoriginal blue overpainting. The overmantel painting Selene and Endymion was examined using infrared reflectography, without revealing any evidence of an arched top. Neither of the supraportes (which were not examined using infrared) shows any indication of an arched top in the sky sections. However, these had not been expected to yield any new discoveries, both being heavily overpainted. Since Bacchus and Ariadne was the only painting in the study adjoining Mary Stuart’s bedroom, the difference is not surprising.

  23. 23. In 2005 the painting was given its present pine frame with a plain profile; the wood is stained and is adorned with gilded decorative acanthus foliage molding. Dimensions 200 x 117.5 x 5.4 cm.

  24. 24. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:374. “Onder elke balk moet wat zijn, of pilaster of term; of, in plaats van die, moest het Stuk boven rond lopen als een boog.”

  25. 25. Calypso’s hand in Mercury Ordering Calypso to Release Odysseus from the same series shows a similar pentimento.

  26. 26. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:29. “De handen moeten altoos een ongelyke beweeging hebben, ziet men de een van binnen, de andere zal men van buyten vertoonen, de een hangende, de andere opgetild: het onderste deel des arms verkort zynde.”

  27. 27. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:67–69.

  28. 28. Eric Jan Sluijter, De ‘heydensche fabulen’ in de schilderkunst van de Gouden Eeuw: Schilderijen met verhalende onderwerpen uit de klassieke mythologie in de Noordelijke Nederlanden, circa 1590–1670 (Leiden: Primavera Press, 2000), 80, 144.

  29. 29. Lyckle de Vries, Gerard de Lairesse: An Artist between Stage and Studio (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998), 98. De Vries assesses the meaning of Lairesse’s texts in a broad context.

  30. 30. The paintings were examined by the naked eye as well as by raking light, ultraviolet radiation, infrared (IR-1 and IR-2), and microscope. Paint cross-sections were studied using light microscopy in natural light and by ultraviolet radiation. The analysis of paint samples and cross-sections was conducted using SEM/EDX and DTMS at the FOM Institute AMOLF by Annelies van Loon and Jaap Boon. For further details, see the appendices in Blok, “Bacchus en Ariadne.”

  31. 31. Samuel van Hoogstraten, Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst: Anders de Zichtbaere Werelt, 1678 (facsimile, n.p.: Davaco Publishers, 1969), 339. Van Hoogstraten mentions that linen, gauze, or ticking is most suitable for large size pieces. “Lywaet, gaes, of tijk, is bequaemst voor groote stukken.”

  32. 32. The canvas has approximately 18 threads per cm in the warp direction (vertical, parallel to selvedge), and 16 threads per cm in the weft direction (horizontal). With its width and weave it corresponds to the practice of seventeenth-century Dutch painting. See Ernst van de Wetering, Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2000), 96 and 123–24. The canvas is lined with wax resin. For further references, see Blok, “Bacchus en Ariadne.”

  33. 33. Lairesse’s three-part painting on canvas The Triumph on Peace, 1672 (The Hague, Peace Palace), also has a (grayish-) brown colored ground consisting of two layers. M. van Eikema Hommes, T. van Run, K. Keune, I. Verslype,, A. Wallert, M. den Leeuw, I. de Jongh, “Discoveries during the Technical Investigation of Gerard de Lairesse’s Earliest Known Ceiling Painting (1672),” in Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice (5th International Symposium, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, September 18–20, 2013), 147. Most northwest European seventeenth-century canvas preparation recipes advised grayish ground colors, next to white and ochre, flesh colored, or even orange grounds. Such colors could play an important role in the finished paintings. See Maartje Stols-Witlox, “‘By no means a trivial matter’: The Influence of the Color of Ground Layers on Artists’ Working Methods and on the Appearance of Oil Paintings, According to Historical Recipes from North West Europe c. 1550–1900,” Oud Holland 128, no. 4 (2015): 172.

  34. 34. Almost all paint cross-sections display two ground layers, a dark one below and a lighter one on top. Paint cross-sections 1 and 18 were analyzed with SEM/EDX to illuminate the components. In the first layer Fe and Ca indicate umber and chalk. In the second layer Fe, Pb, and Ca indicate umber, lead white, and chalk. Since all the ground layers in the other paint cross-sections correspond morphologically, it can be concluded that they have the same composition.

  35. 35. The other paintings in the series display similar coarse particles in the ground.

  36. 36. Maartje Stols-Witlox, A Perfect Ground: Preparatory Layers for Oil Paintings 1550–1900 (London: Archetype Publications, 2017), 136. No other eighteenth- or nineteenth-century authors offer such specific advice on ground colors for different subjects.

  37. 37. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:331: “Deze grond, aldus bereid en hard droog zynde, heeft drie wenschelyke hoedanigheden: voor eerst gemakkelyk, omdat ze gelyk en dof is; weshalven de verwen, hoe dun die ook zyn, ten eersten vatten; net welk een gladde of blinkende grond niet toelaat, ten tweden, bestendig, door haare overeenkomste met de tinten en koleur die men daar over heen strykt, welke hunne volkomene schoonheid van kracht behouden; hetgeen niet geschieden kan wanneer de grond van een andere koleur of tint is, gelyk wit op zwart, lichtblauw op donker-geel of rood, en zo voort; schynende door de lankheid van tyd meer en meer door, al ware het nog zo vet in de verw aangelegt: en ten darden, vaardig, gelyk ik zeg, voor die een vaste hand en vlug penceel heeft, om zyn Concept met den eersten te voltooijen; ’t welk anders, zonder het eerst te doodverwen, niet kan geschieden.”

  38. 38. An Artist Camera is used, with a range of 750–1200 nm; IR-1 up to 950 nm and IR-2 from 950 to 1200 nm.

  39. 39. Paint cross-section 13.

  40. 40. Paint cross-section 18 was examined using SEM/EDX.

  41. 41. Paint cross-section 18 of this layer, when examined by SEM/EDX, revealed the presence of P, Ca, and Pb.

  42. 42. Eikema Hommes, et al., “Discoveries,” 148 and 149. Lairesse used a “rough scratch” (loose sketch) for designing ceiling paintings. Until now there is no account of obvious traces of such sketching phase in small-scale (easel) paintings.

  43. 43. Paint sample (12) deriving from the blue-sky section was analyzed using DTMS and reveals linseed oil (m/z 91).

  44. 44. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:36: “hoogsels en diepsels” . . . “schommelde en verdreef.”

  45. 45. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 2:36 and 1:16.

  46. 46. Houding: contribution of colors to the suggestion of three-dimensionality. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 208.

  47. 47. Welstand: optimal quality, resulting from coherence and interaction of all components of a work of art. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 216.

  48. 48. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:12 and 13: “Om nu niet vergeefs te arbeiden, zo moetmen voornamelyk in acht neemen, dat de algemeene houding, wel waargenomen word: dat de tinten en verwen zodanig geschikt zyn, dat na vereis der wyking en afstand, en het stuk uit der hand gezien werdende, alles een volkomen welstand heeft, en zyn behoorlyke eigenschappen bezit: dan zal er weinig moeiten tot het opmaaken vereist worden.”

  49. 49. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:13 and 14: “Hier moetmen, om de beste manier te volgen, van achter beginnen, te weeten de lucht, en dus allengs na vooren toe, zo behoud men altoos een bekwame en vogtige grond achter de Beelden, om den uitersten omtrek daarin te doen verdwynen, het welk, anders begonnen, ondoenelyk is.”

  50. 50. Wyking: suggestion of distance through color perspective. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 216.

  51. 51. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek,1:14.

  52. 52. This method corresponds to the results of the examinations of the other paintings in the series, as discussed below.

  53. 53. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 34–39.

  54. 54. Treatises and manuals on painting devoted attention to the rendering of human skin from the Middle Ages onward. See A. S. Lehmann, “Vleeskleuren,” Kunstschrift 5 (1998): 10–22.

  55. 55. Gloeijend (of a color): having warmth and intensity. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 207.

  56. 56. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:38: “Een blank en teder vrouwenbeeld wordt met wit en bruynrood gedoodverwd, in ’t opschilderen wit en een weinig vermilioen gebruykt. Voor een jongeman, desgelijks, doch men mengd een weinig lichte ooker daaronder.”

  57. 57. Beeld: representation of a human figure in art. De Vries, How to Create Beauty, 204.

  58. 58. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:14 and 15: “Indien nu, hier of daar, het naakt te licht mogt zyn, zo mengd een weinig ligten ooker, Vermiljoen, Bruyn rood, Lak of Aspalt, na de koleur teder of robust is, onder de Vernis, en Lakseerd het dunnetjes over.”

  59. 59. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:36 and 39: “Steek daar een zagte vispenseel in, schommeld dan met uw blaauw op de tederste partyen, al verdryvende, zo zal men bevinden dat de gemelde tederheid, in ider een byzondere, en natuurlyke koleur zal voortbrengen.”

  60. 60. This layer is discussed in more detail in the section Binding Medium below.

  61. 61. Paint cross-section 2.

  62. 62. Paint cross-section 3.

  63. 63. Paint cross-section 1 was examined using SEM/EDX. In the second layer Hg indicates vermilion, Ca and P indicate bone white, Al indicates an aluminium substrate, Pb and Ca indicate lead white and chalk, Al and Si indicate yellow ochre, P, Ca, and Pb indicate bone black.

  64. 64. Research has demonstrated that potassium migrates from the smalt particles to the binding medium. In consequence, the structure of the glass alters, causing the glass to corrode. In these conditions the color changes from blue to light pink. The discoloration increases the layer’s transparency, revealing the paint layers below. This could result in gray or brown tones. See J. J. Boon, et al., “Imaging Microspectroscopic, Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometric and Electron Microscopic Studies on Discolored and Partially Discolored Smalt in Cross-sections of 16th-century Paintings,” CHIMIA 55, no. 11 (2001): 952–60. SEM/EDX analysis reveals a relatively small quantity of potassium.

  65. 65. The ratio between Si and K is indicative of the discoloration of smalt particles. Intact smalt has a ratio of approx. 4:1. With SEM/EDX the proportion of potassium was measured in paint cross-section 1 (wt%, semi-quantitative): Si 69.49, As 8.16, Al 1.41, K 2.46, Ca 2.41, Fe 7.31 and Co 8.76.

  66. 66. The “turbid medium effect” refers to the phenomenon whereby a lower layer of color, covered by a semiopaque light or white layer, results in a blue, cool tone.

  67. 67. Paint cross-section 4 was examined using SEM/EDX. In the top layer Al indicates (red) lake on aluminum substrate, Ca indicates chalk, Pb (a.o.) indicates earth pigment.

  68. 68. Paint cross-section 5.  

  69. 69. Paint cross-section 6.

  70. 70. BINAS: Informatieboek in de natuurwetenschappen (Groningen: Noordhoff, 1992), table 32: “Gegevens over de atmosfeer van de aarde.”

  71. 71. Van Hoogstraten’s treatise Zichtbaere Werelt (1678) was an important example as well as an influential source for Lairesse’s Schilderboek. Whereas Van Hoogstraten discusses practical matters rather briefly, Lairesse adds some practical advice. De Vries, Gerard de Lairesse, 80 and 81. On atmospheric and color perspective Van Hoogstraten offers a rather theoretical description. Hoogstraten, Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst, 264 and 265: “De verhindering, die de gemeene dikte der lucht, of eenigen mist, nevel of rook geeft, bezwalpt ook de verwen. En men ziet dat de koleuren der dingen ook vermindert worden door het verre af zijn, voornamentlijk, in de ope lucht; want die vermindering in een besloten gebouw, geschiet veel meer door het verre af zijn van het licht, en verdonkering, als door de dikte der locht, die, hoe klaer weder het is, echter de dingen, die ver af zijn, belet en belemmert, omze zoo klaer, als van naby, in haere verwe te onder scheyden. Het schijnt dat de locht zelf in een kleyne wijtte een lichaem maekt, en zich met Hemel verwe bekleedende alleen of meest aen de verlichte dingen toelaet zich te vertoonen.”

  72. 72. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:251: “Het is ook een blykelyke zaak, dat, hoe digter de lucht zich aan het aardryk bevind, hoe grover en dikker dezelve is: en na maate ze naar boven trekt, verdunt zy zich, en word doorluchtiger.”

  73. 73. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:207 and 214: “De koleuren geeven, ten opzichte der schilderconst het leeven aan alle dingen. Zij doen de dingen in de dunne lucht verdwijnen, en andere met geweld uit de gronden te voorschijn komen. . . . Verder is zeer nodig op te merken, dat, gelijk de voorwerpen in een groote distantie verkleenen, desgelijks na maate der zelve koleuren moeten verminderen, en allengs grauwer werden. De natuur leert ons het zelve.”

  74. 74. Lairesse is referring here to Bartholet Flémal.

  75. 75. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:332: “als hy een Conterfeitsel zoude schilderen met een purper of zwart kleed, het zelve kleed vlak aanleide met een eenpaarig donker purper, of enkeld zwart, zonder eenige plooijen: en daar na, als hy het zoude opmaaken, hoogde en diepte hy alleenlyk. Dus doende wierd het ten eersten opgeschilderd.”

  76. 76. Paint cross-section 18 was examined using SEM/EDX. In the third layer Pb, P, and Ca indicate bone black and lead white, Pb, Fe, and Si indicate lead white and (red) ochre, in the fourth layer Al indicates (red) lake on aluminum substrate, in the fifth layer P and Ca indicate bone black, Al indicates (red) lake on aluminum substrate.

  77. 77. Paint cross-section 19.

  78. 78. Paint cross-section 20. 

  79. 79. Paint cross-section 21.

  80. 80. This may be attributable to the darkened ground, although the wax resin components in the lining may also have played a role.

  81. 81. Rem and Broekema, “Soestdijk, lustlot voor de held van Waterloo,” 98.

  82. 82. Paint cross-sections 10, 11, and 12 were examined using SEM/EDX. Pb indicates lead white, Ca indicates chalk and Hg indicates vermilion. DTMS to analyze indigo in a pigment scraping (12). In the mass spectrum, peaks 234 and 262 (m/z) demonstrate the presence of indigo.

  83. 83. Paint cross-section 14.

  84. 84. Margriet van Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures: Discoloration in 15th–17th-century Oil Paintings (London: Archetype, 2004), 91–169.

  85. 85. Coarse particles have a lower surface/volume ratio than fine particles, therefore causing less light scattering.

  86. 86. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 128, 129.

  87. 87. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek,1:331: “Tot deze gronden zal men geen fyne en kostelyke verwen gebruiken, maar gemeene, als zy slechts lyvig zyn en wel dekken. Tot het blaauw zal men nemen Indigo en wit.”

  88. 88. Indigo paint was found in paint cross-sections 1207-15 and 1207-19 of Lairesse’s ceiling paintings. It was identified by Matthijs de Keijzer, on the basis of its morphology.

  89. 89. J. A. van de Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript als bron voor de schildertechniek van de Barok, British Museum, Sloane 2052 (Mijdrecht: Verweij, 1958), 42 and 43.

  90. 90. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 128 and 129.

  91. 91. As far as is known, Frans Hals (1581/85–1666) was the first painter to use indigo in this way for major commissions. In 1627 he painted the portraits of two civic militias: St George and St Adrian. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 137 and 139.

  92. 92. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 24. Besides Lairesse, instructions on this specific use are given by De Mayerne (1620) and Smith (1692).

  93. 93. Contemporary practical treatises such as John Bate’s (1634) and Pierre Lebrun’s (1635) offer recipes related to applying paint at greater speed. John Bate, The Mysteries of Nature and Art (London, 1634), reproduced in Portrait Painting in England: Studies in the Technical Literature before 1700, by Mansfield Kirby Talley (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1981), 168: “Mixture of fat oil and linseed oil dries quickly and is used when painter has haste: Divers painters there are, who having haste of work, do use to temper their colors with one part of fat oyl, and two of common linseed oyl, and by this meanes they make the colors dry the sooner: this fat oyl is only linseed oyl exposed to the weather, and so it becomes thicker, yet sometimes you shall see it so thick, that you may almost cut it like butter.” Pierre Lebrun, Recueil des essais des merveilles de la peinture or Brussels Manuscript: Ms. 15,552, in Medieval and Renaissance Treatises on the Arts of Painting, transcribed by Mary P. Merrifield (London: John Murray, 1849; repr. 1999), 820: “Parchment glue and oil priming are ground together and applied to the canvas. The author states that this mixture hardens instantly, which is very convenient for those in haste.”

  94. 94. Eikema Hommes, Changing Pictures, 24.

  95. 95. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:14 and 15.

  96. 96. Paint cross-sections 2 and 16.  

  97. 97. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:15: “Indien nu, hier of daar het naakt te licht mogt zijn, zo gemengd een weinig ligten ooker, Vermilioen, Bruyn rood, Lak of Aspalt, na de koleur teder of robust is, onder de Vernis, en lakseerd het dunnetjes over: dan daar op gehoogd met zodanig een koleur als men bekwaam oordeeld . . . en op deze wyze, mag men zich verzekerd houden, dat het wel zal uitvallen, behoevende alsdan niet bekommerd te zijn dat de verwen, in het droogen, zullen inschieten.”

  98. 98. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:39: “Het beeld, dat gy gezind zyt te voltooijen, haald hetzelve dunnetjes uit met vernis, door welke gy een weing lichten ooker getemperd zuld hebben: zet dan uwe uiterfte hoogzels daar op, en verdryfd dezelve heel zagjens in het nat, zo verre als gy begeerd.”

  99. 99. Maartje Stols-Witlox kindly provided me with several possible recipes, and suggested their various uses, on the basis of expertise gained in the De Mayerne programme. Maartje Stols-Witlox, “Final Varnishes for Oil Paintings in Holland, 1600–1900: Evidence from Written Sources,” Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung 19, no. 1 (2001): 241–85.

  100. 100. De Mayerne instructs as follows: “driers for oil: Ceruse or lead white whitens the oil as well as litharge, but makes it more fat and thick; minium is better.” Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript, 162, no. 38.

  101. 101. De Mayerne instructs as follows: “Drying oil of litharge: Take nut oil as much as you wish and the same amount of fresh water; put it in a pot, where there is powdered gold litharge 2 ounces per pound. Put everything on a slow fire, stir with a spatula until it boil. Cease to stir and leave boiling slowly for at least half an hour. A little more is okay, does not become thick. Pour off like varnish, & is clear as water.” Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript, 187, no. 115.

  102. 102. De Mayerne instructs as follows: “To make your oil beautifully white and clear as water: Take lytharge of gold very pure 1/2 ounce, minium 2 Drachmen, nutoil an English pint, make it boil together on a slow fire for one hour. Sometimes the oil thickens so much that you could cut it with a knife, . . . it becomes clear and liquid. Sometimes it does not thicken at all. Having separated it from impurities put it in a glass jar in the sun. And it bleaches and clears your oil extremely. N.B. March sun is the best of all the year for this effect and bleaches most. April and May are not bad, and better than the whole of the following year.” Graaf, Het De Mayerne manuscript, 186, no. 111.

  103. 103. Paint cross-section 16.  

  104. 104. Lairesse, Groot Schilderboek, 1:39.

  105. 105. Before the start of the conservation treatment in 2005, the painting was covered with a thick, yellow varnish layer. This layer proved not to be by Lairesse. The paint cross-sections show that the present varnish was applied when cracks appeared in the paint layers.

  106. 106. E. van Rietschoten, M. Staal, P. Eurlings, I. Kneepkens, and T. van Run, “Paintings by the Rules of Art: The Groot Schilderboek on Technique; Lievens and Lairesse Compared,” in Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice (5th International Symposium, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, September 18–20, 2013), 141.

  107. 107. Paint cross-section 1207-12 was examined using SEM/EDX.

  108. 108. De Vries, Gerard de Lairesse, 98.  

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Review: Peer Review (Double Blind)
DOI: 10.5092/jhna.12.1.7
License:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Recommended Citation:
Vera Blok, "Pen and Paint: The Painting Technique in Gerard de Lairesse’s Bacchus and Ariadne as Compared to the Principles Expounded in His Groot Schilderboek," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 12:1 (Winter 2020) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.12.1.7