Materials in Dutch and Danish 17th Century painting

With Work Package 2 CATS addresses the fact that many 17th century paintings deserve further investigation with regards to technical examination. The works in question are paintings made by Dutch or Dutch-inspired painters in the Netherlands and in Denmark and housed in Danish museums.
Most of the paintings formerly belonged to the Royal collections and are now owned by SMK and by a minor part by the National Museum of Denmark and Rosenborg Castle.

Lead by

Professor Dr. Jørgen Wadum, Director of CATS & Keeper of Conservation at Statens Museum for Kunst


A number of the 17th century paintings in question have been technically examined to some extent but still many aspects deserve further investigation.

Task 1

Catalogue raisonné of the large Dutch collection at SMK
This task ties together the results obtained from a conservation-restoration campaign in preparation of an exhibition in spring and summer 2013 devoted to flower paintings in the SMK collection. Future exhibitions and treatments will add further to the long project of the catalogue raisonné.
The exploration of the structure and material composition of the paintings is an interdisciplinary field of research with interfaces of art history as well as the history of trade and industry. At the same time – and as importantly – the painting technique often holds a key to the understanding of the state of preservation and ageing of the works, which can be decisive to their appearance.

Task 2

Four Paintings Magnified – Tracing Bosch and Bruegel
Together with the Kadriorg Art Museum in Tallinn, the Glasgow Art Gallery and the University of Glasgow, SMK has organized the international and interdisciplinary research into four 16th century paintings that all replicate the same composition of ‘Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple’.
The title of the research project, Four Paintings magnified – Tracing Bosch and Bruegel, indicates the questions of attribution of the paintings to the painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder and/or their workshops; questions addressed by the project by interdisciplinary analysis of the painters’ techniques and materials to shed light upon 16th century practices in the Netherlands of copying and replicating, workshop practices, art-market trade and public preferences.
SMK is head of the conservation and technical research team, involving external experts and employing techniques like Infrared (IR-) imaging, X-radiography, dendrochronology, pigment and binding media analysis of each of the four paintings.

Conservation treatment while conducting research on the panel painting Christ driving the traders from the temple

Task 3

Ph.D. thesis Artists’ Practice in Denmark in the 17th century. Materials, techniques and trade.
This task involves investigation of the many and still unexplored written sources on artists’ materials from the 17th century. The primary archival focus is on Danish inventories, pharmacy price lists, customs lists etc. to be assessed  in combination with analysis of materials from relevant 17th century paintings.


  • • Contribution to a catalogue raisonné on the Dutch collection of SMK
  • • Travel-exhibition on aspects of technical and art historical research on the four “Boschian-Bruegelesque”
      paintings. This includes a monograph covering various aspects of the technical research as well as topics
      like production of copies for the 16th century art market and the origin and iconography of the composition
  • • Ph.D. thesis
  • • Publication in a historical journal. Presentation at ICOM-CC

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