Pigments in Sweden during
the Era of Great Power

In 1680, Swedish artist Elias Brenner published the document “Nomenclatura Trilinguis, et Genuina Specimina Colorum (…)” . In the document Brenner gives advice on which pigments to use for portrait miniature painting and which to avoid. The pigment nomenclature is in Latin, Swedish and French.

Unlike other similar documents, Brenner has added an actual sample of paint to show the "true colour" of each pigment. This combination terminology and physical samples gives a unique opportunity to study the validity of colour and pigment terminology.

Using a range of scientific analysis methods, the actual chemical composition behind a generic name for a pigment can be detected. In addition to this, the results are compared to findings in contemporary apothecary’s taxae and customs documents, to find out whether pigments were imported  or locally available.

The project is led by Cecilia Rönnerstam, paintings conservator MA RCA, specialized in European portrait miniatures.

Picture: Unknown Man, Elias Brenner.


Art Library and Museum Archives,
Holmamiralens väg 2,
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm 

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