PhD Fellowship 2018 - The spread of coloured grounds to the Netherlands, 1550-1650, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

University of Amsterdam


September 20, 2018

Opportunity Cover Image - PhD Fellowship 2018 - The spread of coloured grounds to the Netherlands, 1550-1650, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. The Amsterdam School of Heritage, Memory and Material Culture, one of the six research schools,  currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the NWO Free Competition Humanities 2017 project Down to the Ground: a historical, visual and scientific analysis of coloured grounds in Netherlandish paintings, 1550-1650, led by Dr Maartje Stols-Witlox. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is uniquely equipped to provide an appropriate interdisciplinary research environment, as it is the only university in the Netherlands that combines Art History, Technical Art History and Conservation programs. .

Project description

Ground colours have a profound effect on painting methods and the visual characteristics of finished pictures. Coloured grounds originate in late 15th-century Italy and spread North around 1550. In Down to the Ground, art historians, conservators and scientists (University of Amsterdam, Technical University Delft, museum partners) investigate the impact of coloured grounds in the Netherlands through three interwoven subprojects. Subproject 1 (PhD1) focuses on the transfer and spread of coloured grounds and on the influence of advances in Early Modern optics and colour theory on this development; subproject 2 (PhD2) investigates the role of ground colour in the painting process focusing on the impact of coloured grounds on painting technique, visual effects and ageing effects; subproject 3 (postdoc) develops innovative non-invasive depth-resolved spectral imaging instrumentation (DRSI) to support research into visual and optical characteristics and colour changes. Interdisciplinary workshops will focus on the evaluation of technical art history methodology. The research will conclude with a standard reference work on the complex mix of cultural and technological factors that allowed the use of coloured grounds to develop.

You will investigate the complex context and dynamics of the transmission of practices related to the introduction of coloured grounds.

You will collect data on the use of coloured grounds (c. 500 paintings) and set up a database adapted from existing database structures, will probe this database to identify instances of knowledge transfer, cluster patterns and relations and develop visualisations of such patterns. You will perform in-depth research of contemporary sources on the developing knowledge of optics and colour theory, and contemporary understanding of the effects of coloured grounds. Detailed investigations will be carried out of specific artists/studios/networks to unravel processes of knowledge-transfer, with an emphasis on Italian practice and sources as possible place of origin. You will work with scientists to examine the actual optical effects of coloured grounds applying a.o. DRSI and optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Your tasks include:

  • completion and defence of a PhD thesis within 4 years;
  • completion and submission of three journal article manuscripts (in part written jointly with PhD2 or postdoc);
  • completion of a digital geo-tagging/visualisation tool on the spread of coloured grounds (with the Netherlands Institute for Art History RKD);
  • regular participation in national and international workshops/conferences.

You will contribute to the synthesizing monograph on Coloured Grounds in the Netherlands, 1550-1650 (edited by Stols-Witlox, and project members Hermens and Kolfin), to the development of a research database containing project data on the ground colour of c. 500 paintings and to (virtual) focus exhibitions with museum partners.

You will contribute to the reference work on Coloured Grounds in the Netherlands, 1550-1650 (edited by Stols-Witlox, and project members Hermens and Kolfin), and to  (virtual) focus exhibitions with museum partners.

Related vacancy of the Down to the Ground project is PhD candidate 'The role of ground colour within the painting process and its influence on appearance'.


You must have:

  • a relevant Master’s degree in the Humanities focusing on Conservation or (Technical) Art History, completed no later than 31 august 2018;
  • outstanding research qualities, manifested in strong transcripts and a high-quality Master’s thesis;
  • demonstrable experience with digital humanities research;
  • excellent written and spoken English;
  • a keen interest in and experience in interdisciplinary research methods and approaches combining art history and the scientific analysis of art objects;
  • enthusiasm for collaborative, multidisciplinary research;
  • the willingness to travel for on-site research in museums, conferences;
  • strong organizational skills.

Further information

For further information of this post, please contact:

  • Prof. Erma Hermens


The appointment will be for 38 hours per week for a maximum period of four years at the Department of Art History of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. The research will be carried out under the aegis of AHM. The appointment is initially for a period of 16 months; contingent on satisfactory performance it will be extended by a maximum of 32 months. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 December 2018. The gross monthly salary (on a full-time basis) will range from €2,266 during the first year to €2,897 during the fourth year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity. 

Your application should include the following information:

  • a detailed letter of motivation, stating why you want to carry out this particular research project and why you are the right candidate for this position (no more than 750 words);
  • a Curriculum Vitae outlining all relevant experience;
  • the names and contact details of two referees familiar with your academic record and research skills;
  • academic transcript of your Master (or equivalent) program;
  • summary of your MA thesis (250-500 words).

You may submit your application no later than 20 September 2018 using the link below. Please collect your application into one single pdf file (not zipped) and choose the obliged field ‘CV’

Interviews will take in the week of 8 to 12 October 2018. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held via Skype. #LI-DNP

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL"  below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Study Levels
Publish Date
September 03, 2018
Link To Original