Reconstructing Ferdinand Bauer’s Mysterious Colour Code

Dr Richard Mulholland, Leverhulme Research Fellow, Bodleian Library
Event date
Event time
13:00 - 14:00
The Weston Library
Broad Street
Venue details

The Weston Lecture theatre, access through Blackwell Hall, main entrance on Broad Street

Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required

The remarkable story of the 'Flora Graeca', one of the most magnificent printed books of the eighteenth century, and the work of its artist, Ferdinand Bauer is well documented. However, until recently, the materials and means by which Bauer was able to reproduce colour in his paintings with such astonishing accuracy was far from understood.

This lecture will cover new scientific and art historical research at the Bodleian Library to investigate Bauer’s methods and materials. From the recreation of authentic eighteenth century paint recipes to the multiple challenges of identifying Bauer’s pigments using in situ, non-invasive analytical methods (X-ray fluorescence, Raman spectroscopy, fibre optic reflectance spectroscopy and hyper spectral imaging) and the unravelling of his mysterious colour code, the lecture will demonstrate the value of technical art history and scientific analysis as mode of investigation, and how this research has led to a greater understanding of how this remarkable artist worked.