Mariëtte Haveman

Studio Secrets

Over de werkplaats van de Nederlandse kunstenaar vanaf 1200 tot heden

Few people know what goes on in an artist’s studio, since art lovers rarely have a chance to examine the workplaces where paintings, sculptures or engravings come into being. Studio Secrets offers a fascinating and comprehensive insight into practical aspects of Dutch art production from 1200 to the present.

Close to twenty experts discuss with enthusiasm and infectious curiosity every imaginable aspect of artistic practice, from painterly techniques and design procedures to the function of the workplace in teaching and the importance of the studio in the images contemporary artists project of themselves. One contributor presents an all-embracing study of the use of mirrors, windows and spectacles in the painter’s studio, while another looks at the mysterious phenomenon of hand-eye coordination so essential to the creative process in the fine arts.

The descriptions and analyses in Studio Secrets are all the more remarkable for the fact that the places where painters worked were usually closed worlds in which oral tradition, now lost to posterity, was central. The book draws on artistic treatises, books of paint-mixing recipes and inventories of artists’ property, while also investigating what artworks themselves can tell us about the use of sketches, for example, the practice of copying, or the valuable objects passed on from one artist to another, such as the suits of armour and nautilus cups that appear again and again in seventeenth- century paintings.

Learned medieval treatises, impractical for studio use, are appraised differently from practice-oriented handbooks, such as that written by the twelfth-century monk Theophilus. While prints showing artists’ workplaces do not necessarily reflect actual artistic practice, the seventeenth-century genre of painted studio scenes proves more factually accurate than is generally assumed.

The customs of medieval and early modern studios require some ingenuity to reconstruct, but far more abundant documentation is available for later periods. In the eighteenth century the encyclopedic approach of the Enlightenment ensured that the techniques of artistic production became widely known. Nineteenth-century gentlemen artists opened their lavishly decorated studios to the public. In letters to his brother Theo, Vincent van Gogh described finding both artistic satisfaction and domestic happiness in his simple studio in The Hague.

The approach and coherence of Studio Secrets make it unique. This engaging study of the long hidden world of the artist’s studio will be extremely instructive for anyone seeking a better understanding of works of art.


With Eddy de Jongh, Ann-Sophie Lehmann and Annemiek Overbeek, Mariëtte Haveman is the editor of Ateliergeheimen (Studio Secrets, 2006). The authors of this book are well-known art historians, including Paul van den Akker, Hildelies Balk, Carel Blotkamp, Claudine A. Chavannes- Mazel, Eddy de Jongh, Eveline Koolhaas-Grosfeld, Arjan de Koomen, Astrid Kwakernaak, Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Ger Luijten, Ileen Montijn, Robert Scheller, Frits Scholten, Jeroen Stumpel, Evert van Uitert and Ernst van de Wetering.

As far as I know, no book so extensive – in time and space – has ever been written about the studio.

De Volkskrant

Studio Secrets brings together a great deal of knowledge and insight, garnered by art historians with considerable achievements to their name. Within their own fields they paint broad panoramas unobscured by jargon.

NRC Handelsblad

Mariëtte Haveman

Mariëtte Haveman (b. 1957) is an art historian and writer. She is editor-in-chief of the magazine Kunstschrift and was one of the editors of Studio Secrets, about Dutch artists’ studios from 1200 to the present. Faye Finsbury’s Photo is her first novel. In 1978 Haveman spent a year in London…

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Ateliergeheimen. Over de werkplaats van de Nederlandse kunstenaar vanaf 1200 tot heden (2006). Non-fiction, 368 pages.
Words: 45,000

With illustrations

Themes: art

Sample translation

English (PDF document)


Kunst en Schrijven

Postbus 10859
NL - 1001 EW Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 625 16 07
Fax: +31 575 43 11

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