The RKD collects, manages and provides access to documentation concerning the technical examination and restoration/conservation of works of art. The documentation is made accessible in both analogue and digital form to researchers and other interested individuals. Technical documentation can provide insights into the artist’s working methods, the physical condition as well as the history of a work of art, thereby providing an important contribution to the study of art history. The RKD also makes available technical documentation held by other institutions, such as partners in The Rembrandt Database.
The Department of Technical Documentation also carries out research for museums and other institutions as well as private individuals and to support the RKD’s in-house projects. We have our own equipment for infrared reflectography (IRR) and can examine paintings on request. The results are added to our collection of technical documentation. See Examination with infrared reflectography (IRR)
Master of the St John Altarpiece, The birth of John the Baptist, c. 1520, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Detail in normal light, IRR assembly and X-radiograph; showing a dog that was underdrawn and left in reserve, but omitted in the final paint stage. [© Museum Boijmans van Beuningen / NWO / RKD]
Technical Documentation held by the RKD
- Archives of Prof. J.R.J. van Asperen de Boer and Prof. Molly Faries Comprising (digitised) negatives of infrared reflectograms and hand assemblies of approximately 2000 paintings (primarily from the Northern and Southern Netherlands, Germany and Italy) in Dutch and foreign collections, supplemented with reports, correspondence and paint sample analyses.
- RKD IRR research Comprising digital infrared reflectograms and assemblies of approximately 700 paintings (primarily from the Northern and Southern Netherlands) in Dutch and foreign collections.
- Archive of the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) Comprising notes, correspondence, transcripts of auction catalogues, (copies) of photographs, X-rays and other visual documentation about more than 600 paintings by or (formerly) attributed to Rembrandt, supplemented with documentation on paint sample analyses of 164 paintings as well as reports on dendrochronological research of panel paintings.
- Archive of the Oranjezaal Project Comprising notes, restoration reports and photographs of works of art prior to, during and after restoration, as well as documentation on the material history of seventeenth-century paintings in the central hall – the Oranjezaal – of Huis ten Bosch Palace. Assembled between 1998 and 2001.
- Conservators’ archives Comprising correspondence and a wide range of documentation on the treatment of paintings and other art objects by various Dutch conservators and conservation studios including C.F.L. de Wild (1870-1922), Dr A.M. de Wild (1899-1969), P.F.J.M. Hermesdorf (1923-1991) and the Stichting Kollektief Restauratieatelier Amsterdam (SKRA, active between 1983 and 2006). See also Archivalia.
- Miscellaneous documentation from museums Including X-radiographs of paintings that were shown at the 1967 Jeroen Bosch exhibition in Den Bosch, X-radiographs of paintings from the Centraal Museum in Utrecht as well as copies of IRR mosaics of paintings from the National Gallery, London, and the Städel Museum, Frankfurt.
- Digital visual material on Mondrian Comprising digital infrared reflectograms, X-rays and UV images of 17 paintings by Mondrian made between 1935 en 1940 in Europe and subsequently New York. The works were brought together for the exhibition and publication Mondrian: The Transatlantic Paintings (2001) organised by Harvard University Art Museums (HUAM). The RKD is the only institution outside the US where you can consult a digital version of the material.
- Database with paint recipes of the English paint manufacturers Winsor & Newton See Winsor & Newton database
Because the material is fragile and requires a degree of specialist knowledge to be interpreted, the technical documentation available at the RKD can only be consulted by appointment and under supervision. Inventories of certain parts of the collection are currently being made, which means that not all material is accessible yet. If you are unable to come to the RKD in person or would like to establish in advance whether particular documents are present in the collection, we advise you to get in touch with the staff of the Department of Technical Documentation (see below).
Under certain circumstances the RKD can supply (digital) photographs of technical documentation for study purposes and/or publication. See Ordering photographs.
Dr Margreet Wolters
Drs Michiel Franken
Drs Wietske Donkersloot
T: 070 3339777