Catching the artist’s skill: a journey of discovery and wonder – Prof Erma Hermens

We are often marvelling at the 17th-century painter’s skilful and realistic rendering of materials such as glass, metal, fur and human skin, or at the technical ingenuity of the goldsmith or glassblower, who manipulate their materials with such sophistication. Through a multidisciplinary approach, combining expertise and methods from technical art historical research with scientific analyses and imaging techniques, we try to unravel the act of making in all its facets, idiosyncrasies, and of course secrecy. In this talk I will discuss this process of unravelling, discovery and wonder, through fascinating case studies, also demonstrating our limitations, despite all this technology, in trying to get under the skin of the artist and artisan.

Erma Hermens is Rijksmuseum Professor in studio practice and technical art history, University of Amsterdam, and senior researcher at the Rijksmuseum, Department of Conservation of Science, where she works with interdisciplinary teams, liaising between curators, conservators and scientists, combining art historical and contextual research of objects with scientific analytical data, digital imaging, and art technological source research.

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