A. Boogert’s 1692 Treatise on Colors

Posted in books by Editor on May 8, 2014


The Leiden-based, medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel posted notice of this 1692 manuscript at his blog, which was then picked up by Colossal and Gizmodo. From Colossal (5 May 2014): 

A. Boogert, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, Aix-en-Provence, Bibliothèque municipale/Bibliothèque Méjanes, MS 1389 (1228). The entire book can be viewed here, in hi-resolution, zoomable images.

In 1692 an artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.

Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who translated part of the introduction, the color book was intended as an educational guide. The irony being there was only a single copy that was probably seen by very few eyes. . .

The full posting is available here»


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Kwakkel followed up with this note:

Full disclosure (6 May, 2014): While this colourful book is first presented to a larger audience in this post and there are no Dutch publications devoted to it, I have since posting discovered that it is known by at least one other Dutch scholar. It is currently being studied and will be included in a PhD study to be completed in 2015 at the University of Amsterdam. While it is great that blogs such as The Colossal (here) and Gizmodo (here) have picked it up, it is important to know that I was not the one “discovering” the manuscript. I merely put it on the bigger podium it deserves, via this blog.

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