While examining panel paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries all sorts of inscriptions and marks may be encountered on the reverse side. Some of these inscriptions may be very hard to spot or even identify.
On the back of a broad single plank of oak, 54 cm across, painted and dated 1609 we discovered the faint traces of such an inscription. Due to conservation work in the past (20th century?) where small buttons were glued across a crack in the panel part of the original wood had been shaved slightly down.
However, the faint traces of a mark written in red chalk can be made more visible under UV-light. Indeed it now became possible to identify the inscription as that made by the Antwerp panel maker Guilliam Aertssen, active from the 1590′ through 1638.
More information on Aertssen and his activities will be published in 2020.
1: J. Wadum, ’17th c. Flemish Panel Makers’ Red Chalk Master Marks’, in Grimstad, Kirsten (ed.) ICOM-CC Preprints, 9th Triennial Meeting Dresden, vol. II, Los Angeles 1990, p. 663-666. ISBN: 0-89236-185-9.