“I encountered this Dutch book from 1692 in a French database today and it turns out to be quite special – says Erik Kwakkel, a Medieval book historian at Leiden University, The Netherlands.
For one thing, no Dutch scholar appears to have published on it, or even to know about it. Moreover, the object is special because it provides an unusual peek into the workshop of 17th-century painters and illustrators.
In over 700 pages of handwritten Dutch, the author, who identifies himself as A. Boogert, describes how to make watercolour paints.
He explains how to mix the colours and how to change their tone by adding “one, two or three portions of water”. To illustrate his point he fills each facing page with various shades of the colour in question. To top it he made an index of all the colours he described, which in itself is a feast to look at. In the 17th century, an age known as the Golden Age of Dutch Painting, this manual would have hit the right spot. It makes sense, then, that the author explains in the introduction that he wrote the book for educational purposes. Remarkably, because the manual is written by hand and therefore literally one of a kind, it did not get the “reach” among painters – or attention among modern art historians – it deserves.”