A Perfect Ground | Maartje Stols-Witlox

Preparatory Layers for Oil Paintings, 1550-1900

15 December 2017

A Perfect Ground is the first comprehensive study of the materials and techniques described in historical recipes for ground layers, focusing on North West Europe during the period 1550-1900.

Grounds, or preparatory layers, form the basis upon which all artistic paintings are executed. They can have a great impact on the aesthaetic qualities and longevity of a painting. Artists in different locations and at different times selected various materials and techniques to prepare their supports for painting. The subject of grounds also occupied the minds of the authors of artists’ manuals, recipe books and related historical sources, who wrote about ground colour and the devastating effect a faulty ground could have on the long-term stability of a painting, discussing materials, application methods, texture and a ground’s effect on the visual qualities of paintings. 
A Perfect Ground evaluates these recipes, placing them within a time frame and investigating geographical differences. The role of recipe books in the daily life of painters is examined, as is the influence of commercial ground preparation on painting practice and the relationship between written recipes and actual life in the painter’s studio. 

This book will be of interest to researchers and students in the fields of art history and conservation. The case studies form a useful introduction to recipe-based research, particularly for those interested in the application of reconstructions in the field of Cultural Heritage.

A Perfect Ground. Preparatory Layers for Oil Paintings, 1550-1900 


•    Maartje Stols-Witlox
•    Archetype Publications, London 2017
•    ISBN 9781909492356

Published by  Faculty of Humanities