PhD Fellowship - The Role of Ground Colour within the Painting Process and its Influence on Appearance 2018, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

University of Amsterdam


September 20, 2018

Opportunity Cover Image - PhD Fellowship - The Role of Ground Colour within the Painting Process and its Influence on Appearance 2018, 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 perform in-depth investigations of actual paintings to understand how artists exploited the physical and visual properties of coloured grounds. These insights will be connected to stylistic and socio-economic factors identified by PhD1. State-of-the art equipment will be employed for painting examination focused on ground materials, layering, interaction between ground and subsequent paint layers, contribution of ground colour to overall tonality, the intended optical effect and current appearance of paintings. Based on the results of visual and scientific analyses, painted reconstructions will be made, providing crucial insights into studio practice, the role of ground colour while painting and its optical effect on superposed paint layers. You will work in close cooperation with PhD1 and postdoc in the investigation of case-study paintings. Together with the postdoc, you will prepare painted reconstructions to calibrate and test the newly developed DRSI equipment.

Your tasks include:

  • completion of a PhD thesis within 4 years;
  • completion and submission of three journal article manuscripts (in part written jointly with PhD1 or postdoc);
  • completion of painted reconstructions;
  • 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.

Related vacancy of Down to the Ground is 'PhD candidate 'The spread of coloured grounds to the Netherlands, 1550-1650'.


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 in the making of painted reconstructions;
  • demonstrable experience in the scientific examination of paintings and skills of visual interpretation;
  • 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:

  • dr Maartje Stols-Witlox, project leader, or
  • Prof. Ella Hendriks, promotor PhD2


The appointment will be for 30.4 hours per week for a maximum period of four years at the Department of Conservation and Restoration of the Faculty of Humanities. 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 of 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:

  • a letter of motivation, explaining what knowledge you already have to bring to the project and especially how you will deal with combining knowledge from disciplines you are less familiar with (no more than two pages);
  • a CV;
  • proof of your Master's degree;
  • a list of grades obtained for your Bachelor and Master (or equivalent) programs;
  • names and contact details of two academic referees;
  • a writing sample that you have first-authored, e.g. a published paper or a chapter from your MA thesis.

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’. #LI-DNP

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL"  below.

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