During the reign of King Christian IV (1577–1648) the Royal Colour Chamber (Det Kongelige Farvekammer) provided painters and other craftsmen of the Danish court with a wide variety of materials, mainly for coarser projects such as basic and decorative painting on the warships, interior painting, and artistic firework sculptures, as well as for some finer projects such as tapestry cartoons, easel paintings, frames, sculptures and the gilding of confectionery. Incoming and outgoing supplies were registered in detail in the Colour Chamber accounts during the period 1610¬–1626, including quantities, short descriptive passages of the assignments to be carried out, and the names of the craftsmen receiving the supplies. A high proportion of the projects described in the Colour Chamber accounts were completed in order to manifest the king’s courtly power and cultural superiority during a particularly affluent period of increasing decorative and architectural endeavours.
On the basis of a systematic scrutiny of the unique and comprehensive accounting material, by means of a customised database and supplemented by study of a number of historical sources, this research has demonstrated the varied material resources and working conditions of a hitherto neglected group of painters engaged with coarser and often ephemeral painting projects. Furthermore, this study has provided insight into aspects of domestic and international trade in painting materials related to the Danish court in the 17th century through references to apothecaries, grocers, spice traders and manufacturers of materials. The vast resources allocated from the Colour Chamber for a wide range of decorative projects, largely un-researched due to their ephemerality, have here for the first time been analysed, providing a unique opportunity to visualise sparsely documented aspects of craftsmanship of the past. The study has resulted in a unique insight into the trade of painting materials and the resources invested in Danish court culture between 1610 and 1626.
The project is funded via CATS, Centre for Art Technological Studies and Conservation.