The first term of the course will include teaching about historical painting techniques, technical examination of paintings, deterioration and environmental control and the cleaning of paintings. Prospective students in the past have sometimes asked if there is any reading that they could usefully do before they arrive at The Courtauld.
We have compiled this general reading list to introduce some of these topics if you wish to do this. There is no need to read everything, and you won’t easily find some of the books especially if libraries are closed, but it may be helpful to have a broad understanding of the different areas you will be studying. All the books are available in the C&T Library for your reference and research after term begins; therefore, it is absolutely not necessary or expected that you will purchase any of them. In addition, there is now a great deal of material that can be accessed online, some of which is also listed below.
- Bomford, D., Dunkerton, J., Wyld, M.: A Closer Look: Conservation of Paintings, (National Gallery London) (2009)
- Cennino Cennini: “The Artist’s Handbook” (ed. D.V. Thompson).
This book will be referred to in the first weeks of term and will be helpful background reading.
There is a newer version translated and edited by Lara Broecke (Archetype 2015) that is more complete and in depth. It is significantly more expensive but is available in the C&T Library. https://archetype.co.uk/our-titles/books-by-lara-broecke/?aid=308
- Hill-Stoner, J.: Conservation of Easel Paintings (Routledge 2012)
This book is an important anthology. It is extremely expensive to buy, but it is included on this reading list in case you know a conservator or library that has it (as a book or electronic format).
- Nicolaus, K.: Restoration of Paintings (1999)
- Bomford, D.:Issues in the Conservation of Paintings (2005 Getty Publications)
- Price, M. Talley Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (1996, Getty Publications)
These two Getty books are useful anthologies, but quite expensive to buy and we have copies in the C&T Library so purchasing is not necessary.
- Wilks, Helen (ed.): Science for Conservators: Vol.1: An Introduction to Materials, 2nd Edition, The Conservation Unit of the Museums and Galleries Commission, (1992)
This is a useful review of areas of chemistry that will be covered in the first year chemistry course.
Many museums’ websites now contain content on conservation and research. A few key ones are listed below:
- National Gallery London, Technical Bulletin, Vol 1 (1977) – Vol. 36 (2016) online, Vol 37-40 in print only
The National Gallery Technical Bulletins contain a very wide range of articles and give a good idea of the scope of the subject, including technical and scientific aspects, and can be browsed online. Some volumes are dedicated to a particular artist or period and are particularly relevant to the History of Materials and Techniques lectures in the first term, for instance:
Vol 18 – 15-16C Northern European
Vol 20 – van Dyck, Rubens
Vol 34 and 36 – Titian
Vol 35 – Reynolds
The National Gallery website also has other useful features such as videos and research pages in addition to the Technical Bulletins.
- National Portrait Gallery Research: This website has links to important articles such as those of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project: http://www.npg.org.uk/research/
In addition to museum websites, the following may be of interest:
- Khan Academy: These free online videos offer comprehensive and well-taught summaries of concepts in chemistry. They are useful for review as well as comprehension of difficult ideas: https://www.khanacademy.org
- Pigments Through the Ages: This website is an excellent resource for understanding the use, production, and chemical composition of many pigments used in different time periods: http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments