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ARTECHNE – Technique in the Arts, 1500-1950

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Thijs Hagendijk will give a lecture at the 7th SHAC Postgraduate Workshop on ‘Alchemy, Art and Antwerp. Peeter Coudenberghe’s Colour Recipes’

From antiquity up to the early modern period, it is hard to tell where alchemical practices ended and artisanal practices began. One of the places where the hybridity between alchemy and art can clearly be seen at work is in artisanal recipe books that usually covered a wide array of different practices, ranging from colour-making to metallurgy.

In this paper Thijs Hagendijk will investigate a late sixteenth-century Antwerp manuscript that contains recipes for the making of different paints, inks and the production of stained glass. Although the manuscript has drawn the attention of several art historians and conservators, little attention has been given to the alchemical notions and recipes that can be found throughout the manuscript. For instance, the manuscript counts eight recipes for the making of the blue pigment azure. While six of these recipes describe historically accurate procedures, two recipes call for quicksilver and sulphur. Such ingredients would never yield a blue pigment, but instead seem to allude to alchemical transmutation as the underlying process of azure-making. To better understand the interplay between alchemy and art in this manuscript, Hagendijk will take a closer look at its author – recently identified as Peeter Coudenberghe (1517–99), an apothecary who lived and worked in Antwerp at a time during which the city flourished as an important international market for artists’ materials.

For more information about the programme, please click here.