Who devoted his life to understanding oil-based medias of the Masters
Painter and Technical Director of the Louvre Laboratory
French - 1884-1962
In 1907, Maroger began to study with Louis Anquetin and worked under his direction until Anquetin's death in 1932. Anquetin worked closely and showed with artist Vincent van Gogh, Charles Angrand, Emile Bernard, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was very active in the impressionist movement of the time. In his later years, Anquetin became very interested in the works of the Flemish masters. As Maroger’s teacher, Anquetin provided guidance in the study of drawing, anatomy and master painting techniques. Maroger began to get notoriety around 1931, when the National Academy of Design in New York reported Maroger's painting discoveries.
From 1930 to 1939, Maroger started to work at the Louvre Museum in Paris as Technical Director of the Louvre Laboratory. He served as a professor at the Louvre School, a Member of the Conservation Committee, General Secretary of the International Experts, and President of the Restorers of France. In 1937, he received the Legion of Honor for which he was quite proud. It is reflected in his self-portrait of the time, as one can see his Legion pin on his painted on his lapel. He immigrated to America in 1939 and became a lecturer at the Parsons School of Design in New York. His students, Reginald Marsh, John Koch, and Frank Mason, adopted his Old Masters painting technique and in turn, taught it to their students at the Art Students League of New York. In 1942, Maroger became a Professor at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore and established a school of Old-Master technique painting. At the institute he led a group of painters that came to be known as the “Baltimore Realist”, including the outstanding painter Earl Hofmann, and other members such as Joseph Shepardand Melvin Miller.
Maroger published the book, "The Secret Formulas and Techniques of the Old Masters," in 1948. When Maroger’s book became available, Reginald Marsh sketched in Maroger’s book jacket a drawing that depicted an airplane dropping an A-Bomb on the Maryland Art Institute because of all the controversy Maroger was causing in the local press over the abstract art verses realism debate at that time.
Maroger’s formula and techniques have been studied by many modern painters who wish to obtain the paint quality achieve by the Master painters. The “secret formula” that Maroger work on over his lifetime included the main ingredient chemical white lead. White lead when cooked into linseed oil acts as a drying agent and preservative of the oil paint color layers. If one examines the 17th century master works closely you will find the paintings that are in good to excellent condition, after 500 years, contain the critical chemical white lead. Lead, or litharge, in the Maroger medium acts much in the same way that lead paint holds up when used outdoors. It stands up to dirt, weather, fading, humidity and other damaging conditions. A tour of any major museum to look at what paintings are in good condition and which are not can be directly related to how much lead was used in the paint medium.
Maroger introduced to the modern day artist what the masters achieved centuries before in their paintings, a way to ensure permanence and color quality in oils without sacrificing fluid and verbose paint handling. Equipped with these formulas, the artist could once again blend his paint easily without his brush slipping and sliding around in an oily mess. The paint stays where it was applied and does not run off the panel. It dries very fast so that he can paint on the same areas the very next day which speeds up the painting process. Above all he enjoys the permanency provided by the medium so that cracking and discoloring is not an issue.
Unjustifiably, Maroger has been criticized by modern day manuscripts on painting because of his bold claims to having found the secret formulas of the Masters. But modern day treatises on painting do not recommended better replacement recipes for paint mediums that exhibit the same paint qualities, brush handling and versatility that Maroger’s mediums provide. Although Maroger’s paintings have only been around for 50 years, so far they look as fresh as painted yesterday, and they closely resemble the technique and look of the masters. They have held up far better than most paintings a year old that were painted with commonly used art supplies.
LOST OLD MASTER FORMULAS BY MAROGER
SIX FORMULAS OF MAROGER TAKEN FROM HIS BOOK ON PAINTING FORMULAS
- Lead Medium-attributed to Antonello da Messina-One part litharge (yellow lead oxide) or lead white, combined by cooking with three to four parts linseed.
- Lead Medium-attributed to Leonardo da Vinci-One part litharge or lead white, combined by cooking with three to four parts rawlinseed oil, and three to four parts water.
- Lead Medium-attributed to the Venetian painters- Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto)One or two parts litharge or lead white, combined by cooking with 20 parts raw linseed or walnut oil.
- Lead Medium-attributed to Peter Paul Rubens-This medium was allegedly based on the black oil of Giorgione with an addition of mastic resin, Venice turpentine and beeswax. One or two parts litharge or lead white, combines by cooking with 20 parts raw linseed. A little more that one spoonful of "black oil" combined with even one spoonful of mastic varnish resulted in the "jelly" medium thought to be Megilp (another name of Maroger mediums).
- Lead Medium-(attributed to the "Little Dutch Masters")This medium was the same as the one used by Rubens, but did not include beeswax.
- Lead Medium-attributed to [Velázquez]-One part verdigris (derived from copper - this material is substituted for the lead-based metallic driers), combined by cooking with 20 parts raw linseed or walnut oil.
Already prepared medium can be found at: