Bibliography and sources


There are roughly four categories of texts in the ARTECHNE database, often overlapping: recipes, books of secrets, artist manuals, and art theoretical and philosophical texts.


Artisanal recipe collections provide information on various artistic disciplines, such as drawing, painting, frescos, illumination, gilding and metalwork, amongst others.

Many of these recipes can be used to identify specific, datable practices and materials, as compilers often specify the name or place of origin of the artisans from whom they obtained their information. Information related to the historical provenance of the source material (obtained through codicological or philological analysis) has also been recorded within the database and may be used for that purpose too. 

Early modern recipes related to artisanal practices in the visual and decorative arts were often gathered in the same collection with recipes on other fields of knowledge (such as alchemy, botany, pharmacology or medicine). These are also described within the database. Used in context, these written sources can serve to determine the relationship and connections between artists’ knowledge and other types of knowledge, between the worlds of making and materials and the worlds of scholarship and texts.

The database also includes information on the ownership and readership of collections of recipes. This allows users to address questions on the circulation of these recipes outside the workshop.

Such as Wiltu.

Books of secrets

Books of secrets are compilations of recipes for procedures in a wide variety of fields, such as alchemy, cookery, housekeeping, visual art, cosmetics, and medicine.

Books of secrets were published in abundance in the medieval and early modern period, and unlike the name suggests, were not aimed at keepign things secret at all. As William Eamon put it in his book Science and the Secrets of Nature (1994), books of secrets 'were grounded upon a down-to-earth, experimental outlook: they did not affirm underlying principles but taught "how-to".'

Books of secrets almost always contain recipes, but they can also list other instructions, such as how to perform a certain trick or experiment. The populairty of the genre wained after 1700.

Artist manuals

Texts describing artisanal making processes, such as artist handbooks, describe and give instructions for artisanal techniques, such as drawing, painting, and metalworking. Unlike recipes, these texts do not describe how to prepare ingredients, but how to work with prepared materials and tools to make visual art, decorative and scientific objects.

The eighteenth century saw an enormous growth in printed artist handbooks or manuals containing both recipes and how-to instructions, aimed at both professional artisans and amateurs. The more of these texts we add, the easier it becomes to gain insight in the development and spread of artistic techniques on the one hand, and in the possibilities of transmitting practical knowledge through text on the other hand.

Recipes, secrets, and artist manuals were often combined in one work in the early modern period, although this was not always the case. With the introduction of ready-made artist supplies such as paints in the nineteenth century, recipes increasingly disappeared from artist handbooks, and the focus shifted to artisanal technique.  

Whenever possible the database includes information on ownership and readership of artisanal texts. This allows users to address questions about the reception and circulation of such works.

Art theoretical and philosophical texts

Art theoretical and philosophical texts do not describe how to prepare materials or apply them. They discuss issues like what art is, who is an artist and why, and who decides that.

We are adding such texts to the database because analysing them will help us answer questions about the changing ideas about art through the changing meanings of particular terms, and they can help us to map the rise of new concepts in thinking about the visual and decorative arts. For example, the meaning of words like 'aesthetics', 'art', 'craft', and 'genius' changed profoundly in the period 1500-1800, and 'technique' was a neologism in the vernacular in the eighteenth century.

Art theoretical and philosophical texts did not become a truly distinct genre until after 1750. Before that time, ideas about the theory and philosophy of the visual arts were often found in works about art techniques, but also in more general philosophical works. This in itself is telling for how artisanal technique was understood and appreciated in the early modern period. The texts in the database will help us enhance our understanding of the factors that changed the field of art theory and philosophy.

As with the recipes and the technical texts, the database includes information on ownership and readership of the art theoretical and artisanal texts when available.


Lists of content, works added to the ARTECHNE database from June 2016 to June 2019. Links are to the individual sources. From that page there are links to the records which contain the texts.



Dupré, S., Néven, S., Colour ConText Database, Berlin: Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 2014.

Stols-Witlox, M., Dataset Maartje Stols-Witlox, 2001-2015.

Boulboullé, J., dataset in het kader van het project Burgundian Black, or Back to Black (about early uses of black paint in Flanders), 2019.


Complete printed works

Agricola, Georgius, De Re Metallica, translated from the first Latin edition of 1556 with Biographical Introduction, Annotations and Appendices upon the Development of Mining Methods, Metallurgical Processes, Geology, Mineralogy & Mining Law from the earliest times to the 16th Century, by Herbert Clark Hoover (short bio) and Lou Henry Hoover (short bio), 1950, Dover Publications, Inc. With additional biographical information.

Berger, Ernst, Beiträge zur Entwickelungs Geschichte der Maltechnik: Quellen von Maltechnik während der Renaissance und deren folgezeit (XVI.-XVIII, Jahrhundert) in Italien, Spanien, den Niederlanden, Deutschland, Frankreich und England. Nebst dem De Mayerne manuskript.. Munich: Verlag von Georg D. W. Callwey, 1901. Link to digital manuscript. The link in the section manuscripts (*here underneath) takes you to the version part of the manuscript that is in the Artechne database.

Blasche, Bernhard Heinrich, Sammlung Neuer Muster von Papparbeiten, Dargestellt in Abbildungen Derselben Und Ihrer Netze: Nebst Speciellen Anleitungen, Die Nachträge Zum Papparbeiter Zu Betracten Sind = Beschreibung Meiner Musterkabinette: Ein Uebungsbuch Für Diejenigen, Welche in Der Kunst Zu Pappen Eine Höhere Fertigkeit Erlangen Wollen, Schnepfenthal: In der Buchhandlung der Erziehungsanstalt, 1809.

Blasche, Bernhard Heinrich, Papyro-Plastics, or The Art of Modeling in Paper, translation by D. Boileau, London: Boosey and Sons, 1824.

Bontemps, G., Guide du Verrier, 1868.

Cennini, Cennino, Trattato della pittura, messo in luce la prima volta con annotazioni, dal cavaliere Guiseppe Tambroni, socio onorario dell’ accademia di S. Luca della I.R. delle Belle arti di Vienna, Dell’Archeologica di Roma, Della R. di scienze lettere ed arti di Paragi ec. Rome: co’torchi di Paolo Salviucci, 1821.

Dossie, Robert, The handmaid to the arts, London: J. Nourse at the Lamb opposite Katherine-Street in the Strand, 1758.

Félibien, A., Entretiens Sur les Vies, 1705.

Harrepeter, Johann Conrad (transl.), Le Vieil, P., Die Kunst auf Glas zu malen, Nürnberg, 1779.

Kok, J., Eenige geheime onderrichtingen betreffende het drukken van chitsen en catoenen alsmede de Blaauwkuip, Amsterdam, 1794.

Lebrun, M., Nouveau Manuel du Mouleur, Paris, 1838.

Le Vieil, P., L’art de la peinture, Paris, 1774.

Mander, Karel van, Het Schilder-Boeck, Haarlem: 1604.

Merrifield, Mary Philadelphia (transl.), A Treatise On Painting, written by Cennino Cennini in the year 1437; and first published in Italian in 1821, with an introduction and notes, by signor Tambroni, London: Edward Lumley, 1844.

Mulder, G.J., Scheikundige verhandelingen en onderzoekingen de scheidkunde der droogende olieën, Rotterdam: H.A. Kramers, 1865.

Neri en Kunckel, Art de la verrerie de Neri, Merret et Kunckel, Zürich, 1752.

Smith, G., The laboratory or school of Arts, London: Whittingham, 1799.

Tambroni, G., Cennini, C., Trattato della pittura, messo in luce la prima volta con annotazioni, dal cavaliere Guiseppe Tambroni, socio onorario dell’ accademia di S. Luca della I.R. delle Belle arti di Vienna, Dell’Archeologica di Roma, Della R. di scienze lettere ed arti di Paragi ec. Rome: co’torchi di Paolo Salviucci, 1821.

Verheyden, M., Konst, en recept boek, voor de schilders en konst etzers &c : door tijt, en vlijt bij een gebracht, Amsterdam, 1736.

Van Laer, W., Wegwyzer voor aankomende Goud en Zilversmeeden, Verhandelende veele weetenfchappen, die Konften raakende, zeer nut voor alle Jonge Goud en Zilver-Smeeden, Amsterdam: weduwe Jan Stant, 1768.

Wilkens, J., Den volmaekten katoen-drukker, 1793.


Complete manuscripts

Anonymous,  A very proper treatise, wherein is breefely set forth the art of Limming, 1596. For more on Limming, see also Miniatura or the Art of Limning by Edward Norgate & A Treatise Concerning the Arte of Limning by Nicholas Hilliard.

Beurs, Willem, De Groote Waereld, in 't kleen geschildert, of schilderagtig tafereel van ’s Weerelds schilderyen. Kortelijk vervat in Ses Boeken. Verklarende de hooftverwen, haare verscheide mengelingen in Oly, en der zelver gebruik. Amsterdam: Johannes en Gilles Janssonius van Waesberge, 1692.

De Mayerne, T.T., Mayerne Manuscript Ms.Sloane 2052, E. Berger (transl.), Florence, 1620-1646. (Sections that Berger left untranscribed are now added, e.g. the so called 'medicinal recipes' on folios 75r-76r)         *

Kunckel, Ars Vitraria Experimentalis, oder der volkommene Glasmacher Kunst, Jena, 1679.

Neri Florentini, Antonii, De arte vitraria, libri septem : & in eosdem Christophori Merretti Med. D. & Societ. Regie Socii. : observationes & notae. : in quibus omne gemmarum artificialium, encaustorum & laccarum artificium expliatur, Amsterdam, 1668.

Neri, The Art of Glass wherein are shown the wayes to make and colour glass, pastes, enamels, lakes, and other curiosities (translation by C. Merret), London, 1662.

Vasari, Giorgio, Le vite de' piv eccellenti pittori, scvltori, et architettori, Scritte, & di nuonno Amphare da M. Giorgio Vasari, Pit. et Archit. Aretino. Florence: Apresso i Giunti, 1568.


Partial sources from the dataset Burgundian Black

4260-63 Bibliothèque Royale Albert Ier Bruxelles (ca. 1350)

MS. 517 Wellcome Historical Medical Library, London. (Braekman 1986) (15th century)

HS. 1317, Library of Rijksuniversiteit Gent. (Braekman 1986), (first half of the sixteenth century)    

Dat Batement van Recepten (1500-1600)

‘T Bouk va Wondre (1513)

Nicolai, Gebrandum, Een cleyn verff-boecken inhoudende seer constighe saeyet verwen, nut en profytelijck voor breyders en oock voor andere persoonen die haer dit werck mede willen bemoeyen,  (1648)

Verlichterie-kunde, or recht gebruyck der water-verwen: in welcke des selfs dennis, en volkomen gebruyck tot de schilderkunde, ende de illuminatie ofte verlichterie noodigh zijnde, kortelijck werden geleert: eertijts uytgegeven dor den voortreffelijcken verlichter Mr. Geerard ter Brugge – Wilhelmus Goeree (1670)

Het secreet-boek vol heerlijke konsten – Carel Baten ed. 1694

Den volmaekten katoen-drukker, J. Wilkens. (1793)

“Liber Illuministarum” (vanaf 1500 ontstaan)

Oberdeutsches Färbebüchlein des 15. Jahrhunderts (Cgm 317)

Illuminierbuoch (1549)

Das Farbbüechlin Codex 431 (1550-1600)

A Treatise Concerning the Arte of Limning – Nicholas Hilliard (ca. 1600)

Ashmole 1494 (ca. 1607-1610), Royal Society, Classified Papers III, Royal Archive of Science, London (first half seventeenth century)

Miniatura or the Art of Limning – Edward Norgate (1650 ca.)

Libro dell’ Arte – Cennino Cennini (beginning of the 15th century)

Marciana Lib. Venice codex it 5545, 1400-1500 (Marciana MS)

Bolognese Manuscript (1400-1450)

G. Rosetti. Plictho de l’arte de tentori che insegan tenger pani, telle, banbasi et sede si per l’arthe magiore come per la commune. (1548)

The secrets of the reverend Maister Alexis of Piemont Containing Excellent Remedies Against Diverse Diseases, Wounds, and Other Accidents with the Maner to make Distillations, Parfumes, Confitures, Dyeing,Colours, Fusions, Meltings, a Worke Well Approved, Verie Necessarie for Every Man (1597 edition)

Padua Manuscript (1600-1700)



(C) Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Msc. Theol. 225, Hye hebt sich an dy myschung aller farb