Paint, the Face of Art

a world history of colour



English - Nederlands - Deutsch

Claude Monet Wisteria, ca 1925, 154 x 203, Gemeentemuseum The Hague. A revolution in painting, the unlimited use of blue and green pigments.

Claude Monet Wisteria, ca 1925, 154 x 203, Gemeentemuseum The Hague. A revolution in painting, the unlimited use of blue and green pigments.

Blue & Green

Pigments and their life as Paint in Works of Art

Blauw & Groen

De pigmenten en hun (over-)leven als kleur in de beeldende kunsten


Lecture based on Monica's extensive research for her book BlueGreen

The subject of this lecture is the use, availability and meaning of the most important blue and green historical pigments, their development as paints and their effect on the painted image. 

Their survival, change or even vanishing as colour in works of art and the consequences and impact on what we see at present.

 The interpretation and the image of the fine art of painting is overwhelmingly dominated by theories that can lead us to a restricted, even deformed, picture of the Artists, their materials and their Works.

A rich, often hidden, world opens up to us when we look with the eyes of the actual creators, the Artists. We can see and experience the connected world of the painter's materials. Their techniques and the organic expanding of palettes, the relevant pigments and dyes and their, often universal, symbolic meaning.

Art becomes the result of many thousands of years of growing abilities, and hard labour by men and women. Abilities and skills that were sometimes lost forever, or regained in the process of creative discovery.

'Paint, the Face of Art' presents the gradual development of the painter's palette in a variety of cultures. The richness of the historic blue and green paints and the impact of the Industrial Revolution. The consequences of the availability of pigments and the impact of their colour-temperature on the painted image. It shows the similarities and differences between the paints used by the painters of Pompeï in Roman times, the 17th century Velazquez, and the 19th century Van Gogh.

The life and death of paint, of colour, its caprices and peculiarities are clearly demonstrated.

You will learn the broader dimensions of interpreting and viewing Art by adding the Knowledge of the Artist, and gain access to the work of art, as it was originally intended by it's Creator.

Lecture authored and produced by Monica Rotgans is a Power Point and Pigments Presentation, duration approximately 90 minutes followed by Q&A

in Nederlands - English - Deutsch


some historic minerals used as pigments


Van Gogh's Palettes

a Battle between Colour and Time


Van Gogh's 'Bedroom', as seen in its present state (l) beside a partial reconstruction of the original colour scheme

 'Paintings wither like flowers..' - Vincent van Gogh


The paintings by Vincent van Gogh belong to the highlights of Western Art. They are considered a turning point in the use of paint and colour. Interestingly, these same paintings by Van Gogh, as we know them today, often differ considerably from how they appeared when the works originally left his easel.

The Van Gogh Museum Restoration Department has conducted detailed and extensive research to determine the authentic paint colours used by Vincent van Gogh. The palettes of his Dutch, Belgian, and French periods have been analysed in order to demonstrate the effects of ageing in combination with the use of unstable paints. These effects are a heritage of the developments during the 19th century Industrial Revolution. The analysis has revealed the various changes which have an enormous impact on what we see when viewing the paintings today. These changes can lead to a misinterpretation of the painter’s original goals.

Monica Rotgans was involved in the digital reconstruction of Vincent van Gogh’s painting ‘The bedroom’ (1888). In this lecture Monica will show how the process of research and debate led to a reconstruction of this famous work of art. Monica revives the original and offers us a meaningful tool to fully appreciate the works, and the thinking, of Vincent van Gogh.
By analysing the paints of 19th century paintings, their properties and original colours, it is possible to reasonably reconstruct a painting as it was made by the painter’s hands. We then are able to gain an understanding of the original purpose and colour scheme of a chosen work of art.

This lecture is a Power Point and Paint Presentation, duration approximately 90 minutes, followed by Q&A.

Lecture authored and produced by Monica Rotgans, with gratitude for the support, research, and co-operation of the Van Gogh Museum Restoration Department.

in Nederlands - English - Deutsch


the Cradle of all Art

Earth, the Paint beneath our Feet


The most ancient of all Art is painted with the use of Ochres, the Earth beneath our feet.
On all inhabited continents red, yellow, black and white earth were the first colours used to materialise human fantasies, hopes and fears.

Ochres link Prehistory with our modern times. They connect the many different peoples and cultures situated in different areas around the world, then and now.
The Oceanian, American, European and African Aboriginal palette are part of the universal use of coloured earth as a means to communicate ideas, believes and knowledge.

In this lecture Monica Rotgans presents and demonstrates the unexpected similarities between the authentic Aboriginal palette and the Egyptian, Roman, European Renaissance, Dutch 17th century, African, Asian, native American and modern Western earth colours.

Lecture authored and produced by Monica Rotgans, duration approximately 90 minutes, followed by Q&A.

in Nederlands - English - Deutsch

Wisent, painted with red earth and charcoal, ca. 14.000 years old.  Altamira, Spain.

Wisent, painted with red earth and charcoal, ca. 14.000 years old.  Altamira, Spain.

For pricing and further information please email or phone +31 (0)20 6235760

All of the lectures presented are available by appointment.