Innovations in Macro-XRF Mapping Enable a New Kind of Art History

Friday, 14 February 2014
Grand Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Joris Dik , Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
Just microns below the visible surface of Old Master Paintings lays a wealth of information about the artwork. Hidden layers may contain an underdrawing, underpainting or compositional alterations. Painters frequently re-used canvases and panels, and therefore, painted a new picture on top of an existing one. There, a look through the paint layers offers a look over the painters shoulder. This is of interest in conservation issues and questions of attribution. In this contribution Prof. Dik will focus on the development of novel, non-destructive imaging techniques -notably XRF elemental scanning- to study the substructure of historical paintings. Examples will be drawn from the oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt, where the objects' substructures offer exciting new insights in the artworks' genesis and attribution.