A Nineteenth-Century Colourman’s Terminology

User menu

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Clarke, Mark;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 54, Number 3, p.160-169 (2009)


Interpretation of historical art-technical terminology is often problematic. All periods have lacked a standardized terminology. Both historically and recently the use of words has been inconsistent, varying between periods, regions or individual users. For nineteenth-century painters’ materials this terminology problem was acute, and remains so. A new source of documented usage has recently become available: the unpublished nineteenth-century manuscripts of paint recipes of the English manufacturer and exporter of artists’ materials, Winsor & Newton. These provide explicit definitions and contextual information which enables many art-technical terms to be interpreted. The methodology of interpreting such works is outlined. A glossary of interpreted terms is presented. While some conventional interpretations are confirmed, many unexpected alternative usages are documented in the Winsor & Newton Archive.