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Subject: Hopsack weave in a late Rembrandt painting

Hopsack weave in a late Rembrandt painting

From: Kathrin Pilz <kathrinpilz>
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2006
During the ongoing examination of a late painting by Rembrandt in
the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum - Fondation Corboud, Cologne a quite
unusual finding was made regarding the canvas weave. It was found to
be a hopsack weave, a derivative of the plain weave. In our case two
warps and two wefts weave as one, creating a basket-like pattern
(thread count: 18-22 single threads run in vertical, 21-24 in
horizontal direction).

The hopsack weave (or basket or matt weave; "Panamabindung" in
German; "panama-" or "matjesbinding" in Dutch) itself is not
extraordinary, as it is a simple weave that has been known for more
than two thousand years. It is rather the fact that this is the
first time that such a weave was found in a painting by Rembrandt
(the authorship has never been questioned). According to the
literature he almost exclusively used plain weave canvases of widely
varying thread densities, and only in the 1660s--the same period in
which the Cologne painting was created--did he paint on twill
canvases in merely five instances.

We would be very interested to hear whether anybody has encountered
this special type of weave in any paintings by Rembrandt (maybe this
is a piece of information that we missed or that so far has not been
published), by his workshop or circle, or any other of his
contemporaries. Of course, it would also be of great interest to us
if you have done extensive research on 17th century paintings, but
have definitely not seen a hopsack weave in any of the canvases

We have also heard of plain weave canvases that incorporate a
hopsack weave along the selvedge, has anyone perhaps come across
this phenomenon in 17th century paintings?

Does anybody know of any historical sources from or prior to this
period that could provide us with information about whether the
hopsack weave was produced for a specific use, and if so for which

We would very much appreciate if you shared your information with
us. We hope to better assess our findings by gaining more
information about the production of the hopsack weave, especially
its availability and use in the 17th century.

Kathrin Pilz
Cologne Institute for Conservation Sciences

Iris Schaefer
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum - Fondation Corboud
Department  of Painting Conservation
Martinstrasse 39
50667 Cologne

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:7
                   Distributed: Monday, July 31, 2006
                        Message Id: cdl-20-7-016
Received on Wednesday, 26 July, 2006

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