Technology of European Lacquer

The Technology of European Lacquer in Prussia of the 18th century

Anna Schönemann

Other involved Scholars: 

Prof. Dr. Oscar Chiantore and Dr. Chiara Riedo, University of Turin
Verena Göttel, Foundation of the Palaces and Gardens Berlin-Brandenburg
Bernhard Kügler, Goering Institute Munich
Adriana Rizzo, Metropolitan Museum New York
Prof. Dr. Christian Stadelmann, University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Economics Berlin (HTW Berlin)

Cooperation Partners: 



Sanssouci Palace, Music Room, Potsdam. [Rights: Foundation of Prussian Palaces and Gardens Berlin Brandenburg, short: spsg]

Motivated by the enthusiasm for the East Asian Lacquer art a new tendency occurred in the French rococo to make bright varnishes with a high brilliance. They were used as so-called European lacquer (oil-resin varnishes) applied mainly on precious interior decorations and furniture. Special procedures of varnish making were developed to obtain surfaces with a high gloss that appear porcelain like. This study focused on the investigation of the technology of oil-resin varnish preparation by a systematic evaluation of the historic sources. Especially the information on the Prussian palaces available in archives will be included such as the “Schatullrechnungen” [1] and the records collected during the construction [2]. In addition to the study of the typical composition of the oil-resin mixtures and their making process the application in the interiors will be examined in order to find characteristica for European lacquer used in Prussia. International and national influences on the development of European lacquer will be investigated to understand the Prussian way. On the basis of the biographies of lacquer artists, their training and experience, relations and influences will be studied to other centers of the lacquer preparation. Furthermore, the exact clarification of the historic terms used for the varnish ingredients will be considered in this project.

[1] (accessed: 20.03.2013)


[2] Sammlung historischer Inventare, no. 398, in: Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten, Plankammer, Potsdam 1784

  • Anna Schönemann, Spectroscopic and chromatographic investigation of binding media of art objects, PhD thesis, University of Vienna, 2001