Edward Collier's painting of newspapers and letters held on a board.

Evert Collier's painting of Newspapers, Letters


Edward Collier 1702

Edward Collier 1702

Edward Collier

Edward Collier's trompe l'oeil of early printed items and tools.

This lecture was a revelation of a long dead Dutch artists mind games poured into oil on canvas. Buried in these seemingly mundane paintings of some of the earliest newspaper articles, published speeches by kings and various letters and letter writing implements were hidden a strange interplay of clues only Conan Doyle’s sleuth Sherlock Holmes could hope to weave together. Evert Collier was a superb painter of the trompe l’oeil style which intended to fool the eye and mind into believing the painted objects were real but behind the artistry was a genius of innuendo using cross-linked dates, combination type-faces, subtle changes of spelling, errors in official documents. Any of these are easily overlooked as examples of an illustrators choice of something to paint but to Collier they were the hidden relationships of the various symbolic ideas.

These relationships have lain hidden in the more than 400 still extant paintings for 300 years until Professor Dror Wahrman discovered them and revealed them to us here at UC Berkeley. It hasn’t been discovered what Collier was intending to say but one thing is clear, there are consistent relationships to be seen running through some 40 years of his paintings. 

Evert Collier paintings would be a great body of work to be explored by a wikisluth community where there was a large number of cooperating people posting to a single source the observed relationships usually found in the paintings. Starting with the most obvious examples – three red leather straps tacked to the wall, top row holds published materials like almanacs, kings speeches, and a quill pen, the second row holds written letters with wax seals, the bottom row has a red sealing wax rod on the left and a black sealing wax rod (for death letters) on the right and a picture medallion on the bottom and a hair comb in the center. There needs to be a complete list of all items and their locations on the paintings. There needs to be a discussion of what each of these symbols might mean and why they were so consistently placed the way they were. But first there needs to be a large collection of these paintings placed in a single place so they might be compared an analyzed by large numbers of interested people.

The truth is out there — somewhere — maybe