manuscript lab

Dating, Forgery: Non-destructive Methods
Watermarks – dating of paper

Case Study: Egmont-Master

The name Egmont-Master or rather Master of the Egmont Albums appeared in 1958 in the art-historical discussion, after Philip Pouncey (1910-1990) had discovered four characteristic, similarly executed pen drawings in a collector’s book that belonged to the Earl of Egmont, John Percival (1683-1748). Hereafter, further drawings ascribed to this master appeared in other museums and in the art trade.
The attribution of various drawings to Egmont Master creates an interesting time line: the master had acquired his characteristic handwriting in the 1560s, stopped working for a decade in the 1570s, then reappeared still using the same handwriting he had started with. It is noteworthy that his style never changed until the end of his activity after 1600.
We tested this time line by analyzing the watermarks in the paper of his drawings. Our results indicated clearly that the Egmont-Master never actually existed. Instead, the evidence led us to conclude that a much broader “Egmont phenomenon” existed, which corresponded to a particular stylistic expression in chalk and pen drawings in the second half of the 16th century (Dietz et al. 2012).

Watermarks from the Egmont Master (photographs and tracings, Dietz et al. 2012)