The materials used by British oil painters throughout the nineteenth century - Tate Research Repository
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Journal article

The materials used by British oil painters throughout the nineteenth century

2002

Abstract

The published literature on the analysis of nineteenth-century British artists' materials for oil painting is reviewed. Painting media other than oil, and literature covering artists who worked before 1800 and after 1900, have not been included. Recent monographs that cover and interpret earlier published work have been cited where possible, in preference to the citation of all the earlier work by the same author. Sources of information, such as colourmen's archives, artists' diaries and surviving palettes, are discussed; and gaps in knowledge, as well as published information, are highlighted. The literature available on individual materials is summarised: supports and primings; pigments; paint, mediums and vehicles; adulterants; varnishing practices; and framing practices. Publications which deal with the materials used by individual artists are listed, and those which attempt to synthesise the information in terms of the preferences and choices made by an artist over a lifetime, by a group of artists, or during a particular period, are discussed. For the later nineteenth century, there is far more published information on non-British artists. This information is still relevant to the study of British art, since artists' materials would have been exported by then round Western countries, and even beyond. Significant publications in this area are cited.

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