This introduction aims to draw attention to some of the limitations to the research possibilities faced by Jacqueline Marette in the early 1960s. Such limitations apparently resulted in inconsistencies and apart from the comments below, the editors have added new footnotes and have updated references in the chapters that follow to bring the text up to date. The construction of supports is the overarching theme of Part 2 of the book.
In her first paragraph in ‘Construction of the Supports’ (Chapter 6), Marette states that ‘If analysis of the wood used to construct supports can be a significant additional factor in the identification of works of art, examining how the supports were constructed can likewise provide interesting, albeit much more limited, information.’ She evidently did not have the possibility to refer to portable X-radiography, which later revolutionised the study of support structures and large multicomponent works.
Nonetheless, Marette’s inspired writing stimulated a growing interest in the subject and resulted in a range of publications.1These include Huth 1967; Van Damme 1985; Verougstraete-Marcq and Schoute 1989; Walker 1998.
As mentioned elsewhere in editorial commentaries in Parts 1 and 3 of this book, much Baltic timber was split directly after felling and before export into planks or wainscot.2As described in Gérard and Glatigny 1997; Rief 2006.
Traces of splitting or a variety of tool marks remain visible on the many planks now part of panel paintings or multicomponent works. Further on in this chapter the notion of decay and flaws in panels is addressed. Today there is an abundance of articles dedicated to the topic of wooden artefacts and panel paintings.3A brief selection includes Dardes and Rothe 1998; Journées sur la conservation-restauration des biens culturels 1989; Gril 2010; Phenix and Chui 2011; Stoner and Rushfield 2012; Ciatti et al. 1999; OPD Restauro 1988.
In ‘Joining the boards’ (Chapter 7) we wish to add that when joiners constructed their panels or boards they were often dependent on the local size of an el
and on how it was divided into lines
In many cases, individual cities defined measurements, something that is important for understanding specific construction methods and composite sizes.5For local standard measurements and how they varied from place to place, see Doursther 1940.
Standard sizes were already introduced during the making of panels and altarpieces in the 15th century,6Heydenreich 2007; Jacobs 1989.
and guild ordinances in the Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries give detailed definitions of them.7For a later example, see the panel-makers’ ordinances of 1617 in Van Damme 1990.
The significance of standard sizes remains unclear and thus a recently established (2012) research group, Studies in Painting Sizes (STIPS), is investigating the introduction of standard sizes in paintings.8Contact with this group is via the RKD, Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague.
‘Strengthening the supports’ is the title of the following part (Chapter 8) where several references in the text refer to the use of cloth or canvas as an interleaf in 14th and 15th century panels before applying the ground layers.9See Van Damme 1985; Schultze-Senger 1988; Véliz 1998a, 1998b; Plahter 2004.
Articles concerning the application of cross-bars on the reverse of altars and panels as well as the study of a late 16th-century Castilian altarpiece, including complete technical documentation of the altarpiece in all its aspects, are available to current readers.10See Van Der Straelen 1855.
‘Fixing methods’ (Chapter 9) and the following chapter on the ‘Variety of materials used to construct ensembles and secondary support elements’ (Chapter 10) make references to guild ordinances, some of which reveal detailed regulations for manufacture, especially of standard formats.