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boogert manuscript 

ArtMatters transcribes, translates, and annotates the unique late 17th-century colour chart: A. Boogert’s Klaerlightende Spieghel der Verfkonst, (The Bright Lit Mirror of Painting), 1692, written in Delft, The Netherlands.

Follow us during this process, participate with your questions and comments, and, of course, send in your papers to add to this new Boogert platform. We aim at a fully translated and annotated edition, available with full open access online.


Through the eye and text: Boogert’s unique 17th-century Dutch Colour Chart for Painters


‘Come and read this book which will engage you, both through the eye and through text, and you will be taught what to do to give everything painted after life its colour and character properly and accurately…’ This is how, in its introduction, ‘The Bright Lit Mirror of Painting…’ (De KlaerLightende Spieghel der Verfkonst, Special Collections of the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence), offers a rationale for its remarkable format of the page after page of colour samples with accompanying annotations. Written in Delft in 1692 by A. Boogert, this manuscript is a colour chart in book form. Although aimed at so-called afsetters, painters who coloured prints and drawings with watercolour, it is equally significant for oil painters.

Boogert planned this unusual colour chart meticulously, as each colour page was first embossed with square shapes that frame each colour proof. On the facing page is a written description of the pigment or the ratios of the pigment mixtures. Along with the pure pigments, each colour is also presented in lighter and darker hues due to admixtures of white and black, or combinations with other pigments. At the end of the manuscript, Boogert includes an index of colours with a swatch and the page and ratio it can be found on, which indicates that this manuscript was intended as a reference work.

This manuscript forms a truly unique resource on the manufacturing and trade of pigments, their specific uses, and chemical composition. However, it also poses many questions on the format used both in the layout and unusual physical features of the manuscript, such as the embossed pages and the proposed colour mixtures, as well as on its function, its origin in 17th -century Delft, and its context within artistic, scientific, and optical developments of the time.

ArtMatters provides a platform for the transcription, translation, and annotation of Boogert’s remarkable manuscript. We invite comments and questions from readers. We also welcome new papers concerning historical colour charts, their function and use and other related topics. We will post regularly working through the colour pages of the manuscript. We are preparing a commented transcription and translation of the introductory text which will be a more extensive publication. For now, it will be colours galore!



Editorial and research team: Prof. Erma Hermens, Hamilton Kerr Institute, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge; Aurélie Bosc, Director Bibliothèque Méjanes; Dr. Philippe Walter, Sorbonne Université | UPMC · Laboratoire d'Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale (LAMS); Moorea Hall-Aquitania, University of Amsterdam; Paul van Laar, VICARTE | FCT NOVA; Zoe Bedford.

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