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Based on extensive research, including artists' recipe books, letters, journals, and painting manuals, much previously unpublished, the authors have also drawn on their many years as conservators of paintings for museums and collectors.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.
The 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.
Lance Mayer and Gay Myers work at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut, and as independent conservators.
“[The authors] have researched the topic for three decades, consulting sources as obscure as shopkeepers’ bills and paint still encrusted on artists’ palettes.” —New York Times
“The first comprehensive study of the materials and techniques used by American painters before 1860. . . . [This book] offers a procession of fascinating personalities woven into a cohesive narrative that intertwines with American history.” —Fine Art Connoisseur
"Conservators Lance Mayer and Gay Myers present a wealth of technical information amid amusing anecdotes and eccentric artistic profiles. Relying on primary sources, they uncover the creative processes and wide-ranging materials used by renowned American artists such as Benjamin West and Rembrandt Peale.” —Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide
“Mayer and Myers present an important ground-breaking compilation for all students of American painting, and indeed, of European painting.” —The Burlington Magazine
260 pages 6 x 9 inches 19 color illustrations ISBN 978-1-60606-077-3 hardcover