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Govert Flinck - painting methods.

The painting methods of Rembrandt's pupil, Govert Flinck.

Four early paintings of Rembrandt's famous pupil Govert Flinck (1615-1660) were thoroughly investigated and the research results of two works made accessible to the public by way of an iPad application.

The app in action in the public exhibition in the Catharijneconvent Museum

The app in action in the public exhibition in the Catharijneconvent Museum.

The research into Flinck's use of materials and painting technique took place in the context of a pilot study (January 2009 - June 2011) for an interdisciplinary research project on the painting methods of Rembrandt's pupils.

Flinck and Bol

Four works by Flinck and one by Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680) - both pupils of Rembrandt in the 1630s - were studied by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the RCE, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam.

Isaac blesses Jacob

Two paintings by Flinck had Isaac blesses Jacob as subject. The version from the Catharijneconvent Museum was probably made in 1633, shortly after his arrival in Rembrandt's studio. The other, now in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, he painted some years later after completing his apprenticeship. Although the subject is the same, both paintings show significant differences in painting technique and style. This offered an excellent opportunity to study Flinck's development.

AR on the iPad

Instead of a scientific article it was chosen to make the results accessible in another, more special way: through an augmented reality (AR) application for the iPad. By visualising the hidden technical information through AR, the research results of the two paintings of Isaac blesses Jacob could be presented to a wide audience. The application was launched in spring 2013 at the Museum Catharijneconvent. iPads are set up in the gallery room so that visitors stand before the real painting.

Step-by-step plan

Hence they see the results of various analytical research methods that tell step-by-step how Flinck's painting came about. As the application runs, information about the canvas stretching, the primer, the sketch and the numerous changes in the composition can be read. The pigments used and the way Flinck wielded his brush (and thus managed to suggest fabrics and spaciousness) are also discussed.


During the pilot study Flinck's portrait of his cousin Dirck Jaocbsz Leeuw was also investigated (signed and dated 1636, on loan from the Baptist Congregation, Amsterdam and the Rembrandt House Museum). The technical investigation revealed an exceptional pentiment (under painting), a correction by the painter. This revealed that Dirck Leeuw did not at first wear the sober Baptist costume in which we see him today. Originally he chose to be portrayed with a stylish suit in a more elegant pose. This finding is published in JAAS in 2013 (see Results). An art historical study of this portrait is in preparation.

More results

Flinck's Portrait of a forty-four year-old man from 1637 was also technically examined in collaboration with conservators from the Mauritshuis Museum. And Ferdinand Bol's The angel appearing to Gideon (Museum Catharijneconvent) was also subjected to a detailed technical and art historical research. The results of the research are accessible through a website (see Results).