You are here

Reconstructions and interpretation of Medieval Egg Tempera paintings

Monday, 1 July, 2013 to Sunday, 1 September, 2013
Organised by: 
Wiel van der Mark
Marc van Hasselt
Jan Loos
Marc van der Aa
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 
4-5 participants (coordination, reconstructions, research), thousands of visitors

Archeon has started an exiting new project, linking historical and archaeological research to the visitors experience and interpretation of the past.

One of the historical experts employed by Archeon pointed out the existance of Egg Tempera paintings in a Medieval house in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Because Archeon's visitors come from all over the Netherlands, this was a good opportunity to strengthen the link between the city of Utrecht and Archeon.
Based on the examples of these wall paintings, as well as examples of similar work from around Europe, our resident artist and historical researcher Marc van der Aa has started work on an interpretation of these historical examples in Archeon. The place chosen is, interestingly, a reconstruction of a house originally found in Utrecht. Visitors of Archeon are welcome to see the work as it progresses, offering to both new and recurring visitors of Archeon a new experience!

Using techniques based on historical sources to prepare the pigment (using burnt bones, old beer and egg whites), van der Aa is slowly reconstructing the decorative borders and images preserved in the Drakenburg in Utrecht. There are a small number of images preserved which feature a castle, knight, lady, man and what appears to be a fox. This fox can be tentatively linked to the Medieval Arthurian Romance of Gawain and the Chess Board. Based on this interpretation and the available sources (including several manuscripts from the relevant period from around Europe) many of the images associated with the story of Gawain will be added to the walls of the house. Visitors of Archeon are invited to see the whole process, from raw materials to beautiful paintings.

This Experimental Action links to both WP5, WP4 and WP3. The process will take several months, during which the specialist skills, research and audience participation will be further developed. Marc van der Aa is also often working during opening hours, allowing the public to witness the fruition of his hard work. We are also registering the process on video, which will be turned into a mini-documentary. This will be featured on the website of Archeon and spread through the use of Social Media.
The project will give us a chance to talk with the visitors of Archeon, about turning fragmentary historical sources into a complete (re-)interpretation of historical reality. This should allow for interesting discussions with the audience.

Selected Sources:

Mantigh, Erwin, 'Blow up: Walewein in Utrecht?' in: Sliederink e.a., Maar er is meer. Avontuurlijk lezen in de epiek van de Lage Landen (Amsterdam 2005) 45-59.
Wal, H. van der: De bouwgeschiedenis van het huis Drakenburg te Utrecht (Utrecht 1977).


Draperies such as can be seen in many...
Reconstructed wall painting, based partly on...
The artist, Marc van der Aa, who often works...