This is the first comprehensive study of an important but largely unknown part of the history of American art: the materials and techniques used by American painters. Based on extensive research, including artists’ recipe books, letters, journals, and painting manuals, much previously unpublished, the authors have also drawn on their many years as conservators of paintings for museums and collectors.
Information is provided on the methods of painters such as Benjamin West, Gilbert Stuart, Washington Allston, Thomas Sully, Thomas Cole, and William Sidney Mount. Topics include the quest for the “secrets” of the Old Masters; how artists saw their paintings changing over time; the application of “toning” layers; and the evolving self-confidence of American experimenters and innovators.
This book will be of interest to curators, art historians, painters, and conservators and will form the basis for future research on American painting techniques. At a time of discovering new approaches to art history, the story of how paintings were made parallels the better-known histories about how styles changed and how paintings were commissioned, exhibited, and sold.