Trade in Artists’ Materials: Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700

Trade in Artists’ Materials: Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700

Edited by Jo Kirby, Susie Nash and Joanna Cannon

Archetype Publications, 2010
ISBN: 9781904982258

Where did artists buy their materials? Who prepared them? What did they cost? Where did they come from, and how? This volume draws together the international research in this new and rapidly developing field of interdisciplinary enquiry by historians, conservators, scientists, economic historians and historians of trade. The evidence concerning supply and distribution, availability, cost, quality and value of artists’ materials is fundamental for interpreting surviving objects in a wider sense.

The authors draw on documentary material as diverse as pharmacy price lists, shipping and customs records, merchants’ handbooks, traders’ inventories and court account books. These sources are combined with technical evidence from works of art to explore the movements of pigments, dyes, panels, canvases, alabaster, parchment and paper from their point of origin to their purchase by the consumer in the major European centres of trade.


The contributions range from specific case histories to more general views of the mechanisms and actuality of trading. Questions of terminology that have dogged the study of this topic are addressed and clarified, and new evidence concerning the nature of the materials traded and their identification is presented. Much of the detailed material discussed is provided in table form, and the book, which is generously illustrated, includes many maps illustrating trade routes.

This volume is based on the papers for the international conference European Trade in Painters’ Materials to 1700 held at the Courtauld Institute and the National Gallery, London, with additional contributions, and is supported by International Academic Projects and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Articles in this volume include:

Introduction: the European trade in painters’ materials to 1700 – Catherine Reynolds

Lapis, indigo, woad: artists’ materials in the context of international trade before 1700 – Peter Spufford


Painters’ materials and the northern international trade routes of late medieval Europe – Wendy R. Childs

Aspects of the European trade in oak boards to England 1200-1700 – Ian Tyers

The trade in painters’ materials in Norway in the Middle Ages. Part I: The ‘silent’ trade in painters’ materials in Norway in the High Middle Ages – Per G. Norseng

The trade in painters’ materials in Norway in the Middle Ages. Part II: Materials, techniques and trade from the twelfth century to the mid-fourteenth century – Unn Plahter


Shipping colour: valute, pigments, trade and Francesco di Marco Datini – Julia A. DeLancey

The supply of alabaster in northern and Mediterranean Europe in the later Middle Ages – Kim Woods

‘Pour couleurs et autres choses prise de lui…’: the supply, acquisition, cost and employment of painters’ materials at the Burgundain Court, c. 1375-1419 – Susie Nash

Suppliers of artists’ materials to the Burgundian Court – Lorne Campbell

”Pro lazurio auricalco et alii correquisitis pro illuminacione’: the Werden accounts and other sources on the trade in manuscript materials in the Lower Rhineland and Westfalia around 1500 – Doris Oltrogge


Manuscript materials: cost and the market for parchment in Renaissance Italy – Anna Melograni

The market for painters’ materials in Renaissance Florence – Susanne Kubersky-Piredda

‘Memoria de colori che bisognino torre a vinetia’: Venice as a centre for the purchase of painters’ colours – Louisa C. Matthew and Barbara H. Berrie

The inventory of the Venetian vendecolori Jacopo de’ Benedetti: the non-pigment materials – Roland Krischel

The materials of production in Italian Renaissance pottery: the inventory of Francesco di Luca, orciolaio – Steve Wharton

A century of pigment prices: seventeenth-century Italy – Richard E. Spear

The Leipzig trade fairs as a market for painters’ materials in the sixteenth century – Gunnar Heydenreich

Pigmenta et Colores: the artist’s palette in pharmacy price lists from Liegnitz (Silesia) – Andreas Burmester, Ursula Haller and Christoph Krekel


‘Administrator of Painting’: the purchase and distribution book of Wolf Pronner (1586-1590) as a source for the history of painting materials – Ursula Haller

Trade in painters’ materials in sixteenth-century London  – Jo Kirby

The colour of money: dealing in pigments in sixteenth-century Antwerp – Filip Vermeylen

‘Eenen ramenant van verf ende pinselen’: some aspects of the materials used by seventeenth-century cabinet painters in Antwerp – Ria Fabri

The London linen trade, 1509-1641, and the use of linen by painters in royal service – Maria Hayward

In quest of a useful blue in early modern Spain – Zahira Véliz

Early modern blues: the smalt patent in context – Nicola Costaras

Frankfurt black: ‘Tryginon appelantes, faex vini arefacta et cocta in fornace’ – Ad Stijnman

Tracing white: a study of lead white pigments found in seventeenth-century paintings using high precision lead isotope abundance ratios – Daniel Fabian and Giuseppino Fortunato

Click here to see the Table of Contents as a PDF file

Click here to go to the Publisher’s website

Conference Archive from the Courtauld Institute of Art and the National Gallery


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