Digital Research Center at Hofstra MENU

Digital Solutions to Problems in Scholarship and Learning

The Digital Van Mander

TThe Digital Van Mander will offer the first authoritative English translation, in digital form, of Foundation of the Noble Liberal Art of Painting (Grondt der Edel Vry Schilderconst) by the Flemish painter and poet Karel Van Mander (1548-1606).

The Foundation is the first section of a much larger art treatise, The Painter’s Book (Het Schilder-Boeck). Published in 1604, this unusual and highly popular book was the first work of art theory produced in the Netherlands. This vast compendium comprises six sections: the Foundation, three sets of biographies (of ancient, Italian and Netherlandish painters); a commentary on Ovid’s Metamorphoses; and a guide to depictions of allegorical figures. Van Mander, on his title page, describes the book as “a benefit to painters, art lovers, and poets, and all kinds of people as well.”

While the other sections of The Painter’s Book have been translated, there is no English translation of the opening Foundation, which is addressed to young students of painting. Van Mander composed this singular work in verse. It comprises fourteen chapters of varying lengths, organized into rhymed eight-line stanzas. The first chapter advises beginning painters on professional training: study, travel, and social networks; the following chapters address various technical and interpretive issues: drawing; proportion; figure and pose; composition; emotions; reflective surfaces; landscapes; animals; drapery; the uses and meanings of colors.

The Digital Van Mander will make the Foundation accessible in English for the first time. The translation, in prose but adhering to the lineation of Van Mander’s poem, will offer readers full and free access to three parallel texts–translation, facsimile of the 1604 edition, and transcription of the original–along with notes and over 70 illustrations.

Project Director:

Martha Hollander