Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

Joint NICAS and Technical Art History Colloquium

22Feb2018 15:30 - 18:00


On Thursday 22 February 2018 we will organise a special joint NICAS and Technical Art History Colloquium. It will take place from 15:30 to 16:30 in conference room B of the Atelier Building (Hobbemastraat 22, Amsterdam), followed by drinks next to the conference room.


The following presentations are scheduled for this edition of the NICAS Colloquium:

Jenny Boulboullé

The Mayerne Manuscript: text - object - method

This presentation focuses on MS Sloane 2052, better known as the ‘Mayerne Manuscript’, that has gained fame as an indispensable handbook for the study of Netherlandish painting. I discuss the making of the Mayerne Manuscript from its original compilation (1620-1640) to its publication in print in the long nineteenth century up to its current use for teaching and reconstruction research in conservation studies and technical art history, and its recent digitisation. While the recipes and technical instructions contained in the Mayerne Manuscript have a long reception history, the manuscript has rarely been studied as an early modern artefact or as part of early modern material knowledge cultures. I portray the Mayerne Manuscript as a historical object with its own rich cultural biography. Moreover, I make a case for art technological source research and material-technical approaches as integral part of interdisciplinary research in art history, material culture studies, and history and philosophy of science.

Jenny Boulboullé is postdoctoral researcher in the ERC Artechne Project, Utrecht University & guest researcher at Conservation & Restoration, University of Amsterdam. She was lecturer in History & postdoc in The Making and Knowing Project, Columbia University (2014-2016). Jenny has a longstanding interest in the manual and entangled practices of writing, making and knowing. Her first book project In touch with life, investigates hands-on practices in life sciences and contemporary arts with philosophical, ethnographical and historical methods focussing on early modern anatomy, life science laboratories and cleanrooms. The title of her current book project is: The Making of the Mayerne Manuscript.

Erma Hermens

Imaging, Identification and Interpretation of Glass in Paint

Painters from medieval times onwards used tricks to improve optical and handling properties of their paints. Historical treatises and manuals on painting techniques provide some insights into these methods. The extensive presence of ground colourless and sometimes coloured glassy particles in paint layers belongs to the more elusive painters’ ‘secrets’. From Murano to the Netherlands, Simplicia cabinets and apothecaries’ pricelists, there are many testimonies for this trick-of-the-trade. Yet, although ground glass is ubiquitous in paint layers of 15th to 17thcentury European paintings, its role in practical, conceptual, and aesthetic sense is little researched and contextualised. The painter’s choice to add ground glass, either colourless or coloured, evokes questions concerning the optical impact, transparency and mimesis, and functionality, as well as crossovers with the glass and ceramics industries, which will be the focus of a NICAS Seed Money project.

Erma Hermens is Technical At History (TAH) Researcher at the Rijksmuseum, and holds the Rijksmuseum Chair in Studio Practice and Technical Art History at the University of Amsterdam. She was senior lecturer at the University of Glasgow, where she developed a MA-track in TAH. She was visiting professor at Renmin University, Beijing, and the Autonomous New University of Mexico (UNAM), and Columbia University, NYC, in the Making and Knowing Project for which she is on the advisory board. She is a partner in the Marie Curie Sklodowska Innovative Training Network ‘New Approaches in the Conservation of Contemporary Art’ (NACCA, 2015-2019). She is on the advisory board of the ArtTechne project. Her research interests are focused on the act of making in all its facets. She works largely with interdisciplinary teams, combining (art) historical and contextual research with scientific analytical data.

NICAS Colloquium

More information about the NICAS Colloquium can be found here.


Technical Art History Colloquium

The Technical Art History Colloquium is organised by Sven Dupré (Utrecht University and University of Amsterdam, PI ERC ARTECHNE), Arjan de Koomen (University of Amsterdam, Coordinator MA Technical Art History), Abbie Vandivere (University of Amsterdam, Coordinator MA Technical Art History & Paintings Conservator, Mauritshuis, The Hague), Erma Hermens (University of Amsterdam and Rijksmuseum) and Ann-Sophie Lehmann (University of Groningen). Monthly meetings take place on Thursdays.


Thursday, 22 February 2018


15:30 – 16:30 hrs (presentations)

16:30 – 18:00 hrs (drinks)


Conference Room B, Atelier Building
Hobbemastraat 22, Amsterdam

Published by  NICAS