The aim of the ARTECHNE database is to help develop a history of technique in the visual arts between 1500 and 1950. To do so, we build on a corpus of previously digitized early modern art technological recipes (more information below), and will add numerous other digitzed sources over the course of the project. We want to develop a semantic history of the term 'technique' but also of the use of other terms that were used to describe processes of making in the visual arts. To that end, we develop glossaries, which help us find ('mine') concepts that have changed over time in the database.

We try to add texts 

  • that describe ways of making materials and objects, such as pigments, varnishes, glass, jewelry, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and etches, but also furniture, instruments, tools, and textiles, in a non-industrial manner, that is, primarily by hand
  • that in some way discuss or define what technique is.

We focus on western Europe and on sources written in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Latin. Due to copyright issues most texts will be from before 1900, with a strong focus on the early modern period (1500-1800).


The ARTECHNE database currently contains:

  • Recipes from the Colour Context Database

  • Artist and artisanal handbooks and manuscripts. For a current list, check sources

We are working on adding more sources. We want everything to be fully searchable, so we need some time for OCR correction and adding glossary tags.