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Historic Art Materials 

(see links to the left)

Please contact Brian Baade at apigmentboy@yahoo.com or Kristin deGhetaldi at kdeghetal@yahoo.com for further questions.

The University of Delaware Art Conservation Department, like many other conservation laboratories, is eager to increase its understanding of historic art materials. It is continually developing and augmenting its reference library of art and artist's materials in order to better comprehend the methods used to make art in the past. Reference materials have been crucial in allowing conservators to build comprehensive spectral libraries and, more recently, to translate these reference libraries into easily accessible online databases.

Improved analytical instruments now allow conservators to detect far more chemical compounds than in the past. With this increased perception has come the knowledge that concepts and methods that were once thought to be straightforward are now known to be much more complex. Some analytical protocols used in the past have since been abandoned as technology advances, offering great promise in unraveling the mysteries of historic art materials.

The links on the left document some of the historic reference materials collected by the University of Delaware Art Conservation Department. These materials are currently available to students, scientists, and researchers both in the field of art conservation and in related professions. While many of these materials have been collected and obtained from reliable proprietary sources over the years (i.e. Kremer, Natural Pigments, etc), many have been reconstructed following ancient recipes (i.e. lake pigments, oil-resin varnishes, megilp, etc.). A number of individuals have contributed to the collection over the last twenty years, generously donating high quality materials that are fast becoming scarce or obselete( i.e. Congo opal). It is hoped that this reference collection may prove useful to researchers and students and that individuals will continue to contribute samples to make the collection even more comprehensive.


Barry, V.T.H. Natural Varnish Resins. London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1932.

Baern, J.G. The Chemistry of Paints, Pigments and Varnishes.  London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1923.

CAMEO: Conservation & Art Material Encyclopedia Online. http://cameo.mfa.org/

Cennini, C.  The Craftsman's Handbook.  Dover, 1437.

Doerner, M. The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting: With Notes on the Techniques of the Old Masters, rev. ed. New York: Mariner Books, 1949.

Gottsegen, Mark D. The Painter's Handbook. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1993.

Hofenk de Graaff, J.  The Colourful Past: Origins, Chemistry and Identification of Natural Dyestuffs.  London: Archetype, 2004.

Kremer Pigmente, Inc. http://www.kremerpigments.com/

Masschelein-Kleiner, L. Ancient Binding Media, Varnishes and Adhesives, Translated by Janet Bridgland, Sue Watson, A.E. Werner. Rome: ICCROM, 1995.

Mayer, R. The Artist's Handbook Of Materials And Techniques. 5th ed. New York:Viking Adult, 1991.

Mills, J., and R.White. The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd, 1994.

National Gallery Technical Bulletin Series (1978-2011).

Natural Pigments. http://www.naturalpigments.com/

Quandt, Abigail B. "Recent Developments in the Conservation of Parchment Manuscripts.” The Book and Paper Group Annual. 15 (1996), pp. 99-115.

Swider, J.R., and M.Smith. “Funori: Overview of a 300-Year-Old Consolidant.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. 44, 2 (2005), pp. 117-126.

Thompson, D.V. trans. The Craftsman's Handbook, 'Il Libro dell 'Arte'. 1933. Reprint, New York:Dover, 1960.

Wehlte, K.  The Materials and Techniques of Painting. New York:Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975.

WoodFinishing Enterprises. http://www.woodfinishingenterprises.com/index.html

Woodworker’s Supply, Inc.  http://woodworker.com/