Forthcoming Book | Between Formula and Freestyle: Nicolai Abildgaard

Posted in books by Editor on February 8, 2014

Due out in June from Archetype:

Troels Filtenborg, Between Formula and Freestyle: Nicolai Abildgaard and Eighteenth-Century Painting Technique (London: Archetype, 2014), 152 pages, ISBN: 978-1909492097, £38 / $80.

As the most important Danish history painter, Nicolai Abildgaard (1743–1809) worked in a century that saw marked shifts in the styles of painting, from the late Baroque via Rococo to Neoclassicism, as well as the emergence of art academies throughout Europe as the prevalent factor in the training of young artists. Abildgaard has been the subject of a number of studies through the years. Within this considerable body of research, however, little attention has been given to the technical material aspect of his art. This book presents results of a paint technical study of his oeuvre, from early student paintings to mature works from his later years.

As a result of the composite nature of his training in Copenhagen as well as in Rome in the 1760s and 70s, a number of factors in Abildgaard’s formative years were influential in shaping his painting methods and choice of materials. Defying a specific formula, his technique displays the coexistence of a stepwise, systematic approach, typical of academic painting, with a freer, more alla prima manner. However, in adopting a variety of interchanging methods, Abildgaard does not appear to be unique for his time. And although his practice may at times appear unorthodox and inconsistent, most of its separate components are found in works by his contemporaries, making his technique a reflection of different characteristic currents in 18th-century painting.


Painting supports: Fabrics, sizes and formats
Paint layers: Pigments and Varnishes
The Christiansborg series
The Terence series

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: