Technique and the Art of Immortality, 1800-1900

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This essay investigates how, over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, painters, art historians, and chemists fused a bond to undo the damage they believed the industrial revolution had caused the art of painting. Even though the industrial revolution produced many novelties for painters, from a whole new range of colors to pre-prepared paints, these new materials were not always stable and were sometimes even contaminated for industry’s own gain. As another consequence of the industrial revolution, painters no longer produced their own supplies and thus lost the ability to assess the qualities and technical possibilities of the materials they were using; their paintings sometimes degraded in a matter of decades. The works of the old masters, on the other hand, were admired for their ability to keep their condition for centuries. It was hoped therefore that the rediscovery of the materials and techniques of the old masters would help “modern” painters to once again bring a similar “immortality” to their fame. What is more, the methods and collaborations that painters, art historians, and chemists established in light of the above constitute today the pillars of the emerging field of technical art history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-199
Number of pages21
JournalHistory of Humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Technique and the Art of Immortality, 1800-1900'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this