Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

Delftware ceramic glazes

Conservation and technical studies

The research project is focusing on glaze appearance and elemental composition of Delftware ceramics and the relationship between the two. It tackles three inter-connected conservation issues of blue-and-white Delftware ceramic glazes and in so doing combines conservation and technical art history research. Conservators' pigment retouching combinations often match the original glaze only in certain lighting conditions, while in others there can be a discordant mismatch in colour. This phenomenon is called metamerism. The research will validate a computer-match-pigment-selection program with a specially-prepared database of pigment reflectance spectra to overcome metamerism for Delftware glaze. Since differences in the colour of Delftware are due to variations in glaze composition, the project will also analyse elemental compositions of a range of hues from items in the Rijksmuseum and other collections in an approach pioneered by the project researchers using concentration maps of 54 specific elements. This will enable the total glaze composition to be related to the colour measured for the same glazes. Finally, using Delftware from Dutch collections, the differences in glaze compositions will be compared for different periods and locations of manufacture.

Jan van Campen

Elemental concentration map of Delftware glaze.

Project acronym


Principal Investigator

  • Dr. J. van Campen (Rijksmuseum)

Co-Principal Investigators

  • F. Diercks MA (Rijksmuseum)
  • Dr. J.T. van Elteren (National Institute of Chemistry of Slovenia)
  • Drs. I. Garachon (Rijksmuseum)
  • Dr. J.G. Neevel (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)
  • Dr. J. Nobbs (Colour4Free)
  • M. Slager (Restauratieatelier Mandy Slager, University of Amsterdam)
  • Prof. dr. N.H. Tennent (University of Amsterdam)

Participating institutions

  • Colour4Free
  • Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
  • National Institute of Chemistry of Slovenia
  • Restauratieatelier Mandy Slager
  • Rijksmuseum
  • University of Amsterdam

Want to know more?

Please click here for project updates and background information.

Published by  NICAS

6 April 2017