Unravelling a North Netherlandish 17th-century panel maker

  • Wadum, J. (Lecturer)
  • Angela Jager (Other)
  • Marta Domínguez-Delmás (Other)

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution


The marking and branding of oak painting supports is a well-known practice in Antwerp in the 16th and 17th centuries. Conversely, information about the activities and regulations of 17th-century panel makers in the Northern Netherlands is scant and has hitherto never been thoroughly researched.

This paper presents a panel maker who sold his products to painters within the Dutch Republic. He stamped his house mark in the back of the panels: two letters ‘M’ above each other and crowned by the cipher ‘4’. This mark has been found in panels from several painters active between 1632 and 1648.

To narrow down the location of the unknown panel maker’s workshop, we investigated his source of timber and the eventual interrelationships between the planks used for the panels. In addition, we studied the painters who painted on his supports. This paper, for the first time, presents a thorough dendrochronological and art historical examination of eight of his 15 known panels combined with art historical research into the works of his customers and the commissioners of those works. Based on the Baltic provenance of the wood of the panels, the painters who used them, the people portraited, and the supply of timber to the Dutch Republic in the first half of the 17th century, we propose that the location of the panel maker’s activities points to a workshop in Rotterdam.

This first interdisciplinary attempt to unravel an unknown Dutch panel maker and his practice increases our understanding of panel maker’s practices in the 17th century. Further research into Dutch frame and panel makers and their regulations and practices is urgently needed to comprehend the complexity of the huge art market of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century.
Period20 Apr 2022
Held atUniversity of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Degree of RecognitionInternational