In 1692, an artist known only as “A. Boogert” wrote a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. He didn’t just begin the book with info about color usage in painting, but he went on to explain the method for creating specific hues and changing the tone by adding one, two, or three parts water. The detail put into this book is unfathomable. Click the image below to see the magnitude of this awesomeness (but be sure to scroll down for more images and info about the book).
Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau spans nearly 800 completely handwritten and painted pages and was likely the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel translated part of the introduction and explains that the color book was intended as an educational guide. Oddly, however, there was only one copy of the book. Did the artist just create it for himself? I guess we’ll never know.
Here are some of the exquisite images. More info about the book, as well as a link to the gentleman who is studying it, are below the images.
via Erik Kwakkel:
I encountered this Dutch book from 1692 in a French database today and it turns out to be quite special. For one thing, no Dutch scholar appears to have published on it, or even to know about it. Moreover, the object is special because it provides an unusual peek into the workshop of 17th-century painters and illustrators. In over 700 pages of handwritten Dutch, the author, who identifies himself as A. Boogert (Pic 2), describes how to make watercolour paints. He explains how to mix the colours and how to change their tone by adding “one, two or three portions of water”. To illustrate his point he fills each facing page with various shades of the colour in question (lower image). To top it he made an index of all the colours he described, which in itself is a feast to look at (Pics 1 and 3). In the 17th century, an age known as the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, this manual would have hit the right spot. It makes sense, then, that the author explains in the introduction that he wrote the book for educational purposes. Remarkably, because the manual is written by hand and therefore literally one of a kind, it did not get the “reach” among painters – or attention among modern art historians – it deserves.