Data on more than 6,000 wooden panels and sculptures launched

9 April 2019

The RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History today publishes a unique resource with dendrochronological research data about paintings on panel and wooden sculptures via the database RKDtechnical. This data stems from research conducted by Professor Emeritus Peter Klein (Universität Hamburg) into well over 6,000 artworks. The unrivalled database offers numerous search options, stimulating users to formulate new research questions.

By measuring the tree rings of painted panels or wooden sculptures, it is possible to establish the date after which a work was created using dendrochronology. Peter Klein has for decades been examining artworks all over the world following this method. The results of his research have been fed into the RKD’s database and linked to the relevant works of art. This was made possible by a generous sponsor. By combining the data in this way the RKD has created a vitally important tool for art-historical research, in which questions of dating are so important.

In RKDtechnical each examined artwork is given a record containing a set of basic data including the type of wood, the youngest tree ring(s), the number of tree rings, the year in which the tree could have been felled and the earliest possible date after which the work was made. If wood from the same tree has been found in other works as well, this is also mentioned.

In addition users can download research reports and working drawings, and can study this information in conjunction with other data relating to works of art or research. The manner in which the results are made accessible online, combined with new search facilities, makes it possible to conduct advanced searches of the entire data set. The data is available in both English and Dutch. More information is constantly being added to the databases; in the future this documentation can be complemented with data gathered by other dendrochronologists. 

Professor Chris Stolwijk, General Director of the RKD, says: ‘It is extraordinary that the RKD has put such a quantity of dendrochronological information about works of art online for everybody, and in such a useful context.’