RKD Netherland Institute for art History
The aim of the Marks on Art project is a freely accessible database of all marks found on fine and applied art, including signatures, traders' stamps and transport marks. Marks on Art will be integrated into the existing infrastructure of the RKD databases so that cross-links can be made between artwork, artist and technical research data, such as dendrochronological research results.
The second pillar of the project focuses on the digitisation, identification and digital publication of maker's and guild marks on the reverse of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings. The starting point is a dataset of thousands of marks on panels and copper supports, compiled by Prof. em. dr Jørgen Wadum during visits to collections and auction houses. This unique dataset, donated to the RKD, will be updated and extended with as many new marks as possible.
The project started at the end of 2022. The RKD will supplement the existing dataset with as many new marks as possible following a call. In 2023 and 2024, the brands will be collected and the dataset will be completed. From January 2025, the RKD aims to present this dataset in its database. Project leader is Dr Angela Jager. The RKD welcomes Jørgen Wadum as associate researcher for the duration of the project.
The RKD received a Digital Art History Grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and a grant from the Mondriaan Fund for this project. The project received a generous grant from the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), which provided Jørgen Wadum with a three-month Conservation Guest Scholarship. Art dealers Richard Green and Rafael Valls, both in London, contributed at an early stage of the project.
The project Marks on Art Database: Painting focuses specifically on maker and guild marks on the backs of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings on panels and copper supports. Lumberjacks marked planks for transport. Panel and copperplate makers marked their production with a personal mark, often a monogram. After quality control, the local Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp also provided approved supports with a hallmark. A combination of these marks provides unique information about the artwork's dating and place of manufacture, and as such sheds light on attribution, authenticity and production process. Marks are rarely visible as they are located at the bottom or backside of a work of art, but provide essential information about the object. Thus making available information on marks in a widely accessible database offers unprecedented research opportunities.