by Deb Shaw
On April 30, 2014, Medieval scholar Erik Kwakkel posted about a book from 1692 he had come across in a French database about mixing colors in watercolor. Known only as A. Boogert, the artist/author hand-wrote and hand-painted a comprehensive guide in Dutch of more than 700 pages, describing how to make watercolor paints, how to mix colors, and how to change the tone by adding “one, two or three portions of water.”
Titled Klaer lightende Spiegel der Verfkonst, or Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, the manuscript is a visual feast of color and calligraphy. Luckily, every page is available to view online in high resolution, zoomable images on e-corpus.org. The original volume resides in the archives of the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France. The bibliography for the book contains references to the Dutch East India Company, European textile export to India, and Indian textile export to Europe. Erik Kwakkel has translated part of the introduction; the book was intended to be an education guide to color.
Erik’s original blog post was quickly reposted by Colossal, Gizmodo, and greg.org, and from there has quickly spread across the web. If you read Dutch and find anything interesting while looking through the volume, feel free to comment on any of the blog sites.
In the meantime, enjoy!