When Éditions A. & J. Picard & Cie published Jacqueline Marette’s Connaissance des Primitifs par l'étude du bois du XIIe au XVIe siècle in 1961, the introduction by Clément Jacquiot stated:
'It is particularly stimulating to see research undertaken from completely different perspectives and with varied methods in one study. The work by Jacqueline Marette is an extreme case of the convergence of two sciences that appear superficially so disparate: the history of art and the anatomy of wood, with the aim of explaining the history of forest vegetation and timber industries at the same time as the history of painting’s techniques.' 1Il est particulièrement satisfaisant pour l'esprit de voir converger les résultats de recherches conduites par des voies et des méthodes entièrement différentes. L'ouvrage de Mme Jacqueline Marette présente un cas extrême de cette convergence puisque nous y voyons se rejoindre les conclusions de deux sciences en apparence bien éloignées: l'histoire de l'art et l'anatomie du bois, pour préciser nous connaissances sur l'histoire de la végétation forestière et des industries du bois en même temps que sur l'histoire des techniques de la peinture.
It is exactly this combination of knowledge from the different disciplines of art history, conservation and wood science that makes our understanding of the history of painting techniques so rewarding.
In 1989, Hélène Verougstraete wrote in her groundbreaking book, Cadres et supports dans la peinture flamande aux 15e et 16e siècles … 2This book is available in an English updated version, edited by KIK-IRPA and supported by a grant from the Getty Foundation.
'Since J. Marette published Connaissance
… in 1961, the interest in frames and supports has continued to grow. The author largely concentrated on the identification of wood types and considered the construction of supports of limited interest. The usefulness of knowledge on the technology of supports within a certain school appears obvious today within the contexts of authentication and conservation. Ignorance is often a major cause of destruction.' 3Depuis 1961, date à laquelle J. Marette publie son ouvrage ‘Connaissance…’ l’intérêt porté aux cadres et supports est allé croissant. L’auteur s’était principalement intéressé à l’identification des essences et jugeait la construction des supports d’un intérêt limité. L’intérêt de la technologie des supports au sein d’une école apparait aujourd’hui évident à des fins d’authentifications et de conservation. L’ignorance est souvent une cause majeure de destruction.
All of this is still true. This is also the reason why the work of Jacqueline Marette continues to resonate today, because it presents an extreme case of this convergence of knowledge. 4Jacqueline Marette was project leader in the Department of Paintings at the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Germain Bazin (1901–1990) was Curator in Chief of Paintings and Drawings at the Musée du Louvre. Clément Jacquiot was Research Director at the Centre Technique du Bois, Paris, with a special focus on rivers and forests.
Marette’s multidisciplinary research methodology makes her book a unique resource for a wide array of scholars including art historians, curators and conservators as well as trainees and students, who can all draw upon her work in their own research. However, her milestone publication has never found readers beyond those with an understanding of the French language. Within the spirit of the Getty Panel Paintings Initiative 5 The Getty Foundation developed the Panel Paintings Initiative with the Getty Conservation Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum to train the next generation of conservators who care for old master paintings on wooden panels before the current experts retire. The initiative is also raising general awareness of the structural conservation of panel paintings among painting and wood conservators, curators, and scientists through training workshops and the translation and online publication of key texts related to the field. For more information on the Panel Paintings Initiative, see http://www.getty.edu/foundation/initiatives/current/panelpaintings/index.html.
we felt a need to offer Marette’s text in English.
This project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Getty Foundation and realised by the following specialists who possess both technical expertise and art-historical knowledge relating to northern European easel painting on panel from the 12th to the 16th century: Prof. Dr Jørgen Wadum, CATS at Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), Copenhagen; Associate Prof. Dr Noëlle Streeton, University of Oslo; Dr Christina Currie, KIK-IRPA, Brussels; Jean-Albert Glatigny, independent panel paintings conservator, Brussels; and Nicole Goetghebeur, Emeritus KIK-IRPA, Brussels. The team was greatly assisted by paintings and frame conservator Mette Kokkenborg, research coordinator of CATS, who took responsibility for the day-to-day coordination of the project with the translators, editors and specialists, as well as checking image copyrights and preparing comments and additions by the editors within the entire framework of this complex production team and the publisher.
Drawing upon their extensive scholarly knowledge, each specialist has contributed to a critical reading of the original texts, suggesting where references and notes should be added to update Marette’s work. Other experts within the PPI team in the UK, France, Italy and the United States were asked to review sections of the material to a limited extent. In this respect we are extremely grateful for reviews and contributions from Prof. Emeritus Dr Peter Klein, Hamburg; José de la Fuente Martinez, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid; Ciro Castelli, Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence; Dr Uta Neidhardt and Axel Boerner, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden; and finally we thank Dr Pascale Fraiture, KIK-IRPA, for her useful comments and references on the history of dendrochronology and Dr Valentine Henderiks, KIK-IRPA, for her help in researching the history of use of the term Primitifs.
The translation of Marette’s original texts was done by Paul van Calster of Anagram (Ghent, Belgium), who worked in collaboration with Ted Alkins, a native English speaker and highly experienced translator with whom Paul has worked on numerous art books since the early 1990s. Under Paul’s guidance, a team of translators also provided the English, Spanish, Italian and German translations of the glossary. The publishers are also grateful to Alice Aurand and Regine Page for their assistance with aspects of translation.
Archetype Publications has published the translation, now entitled Wooden Supports in 12th–16th-Century European Paintings, in collaboration with the Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS), Copenhagen and in close partnership with the original French publisher, Éditions Picard of Paris. This online publication, compatible with both desktop computers and tablets, has a user interface for easy scrolling and a search mechanism for terms, phrases and the bibliography.
While this publication is intended primarily to serve experts in the field, with the rising public interest in material culture, university researchers, educators as well as students and the interested public will identify this new translation of Jacqueline Marette’s seminal work as an important reference resource.
Prof. Dr Jørgen Wadum
Director of CATS, Copenhagen