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Under embargo until 4 January 2013

Press Release in English - Persbericht in het Nederlands - Comunicato stampa in Italiano - Pressebericht auf Deutsch

 

LED lights may be bad for Van Gogh Paintings

Possibly dozens of masterpieces sensitive to darkening of yellow areas

An international team of scientists has used synchrotron X-rays to better understand why some bright yellow colours in Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings with time are turning brown, while others do not. The research focus was on chrome yellow, favoured by Van Gogh to depict sunshine and light, several types of which were found to be very sensitive to darkening under green and blue light. The scientists recommend that museums identify all paintings with this type of chrome yellow, and protect them in particular from the increasingly popular LED lights as these emit a large amount of blue.

The scientific results of the scientists have been published on 14 November 2012 in two papers in the journal Analytical Chemistry. There form Part 3 and Part 4 of a series of studies on this topic.

Previously the same group of researchers from Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany had discovered that especially the light yellow tones in Van Gogh’s paintings are prone to darkening and that this process involves a chemical reduction of chromium, the key element in the chrome yellow pigment. A reduction is the opposite of an oxidation reaction. However, they did not understand the origin of this chemical transformation, and why the degradation differed considerably among paintings.

State-of-the-art X-ray analysis of an extensive series of Van Gogh paintings belonging to 3 musea in The Netherlands and France allowed the researchers to conclude that Van Gogh did not always use the same type of chrome yellow paint. To confirm these findings, also original paints employed by Van Gogh and by Cézanne in the late 19th century were investigated. The key experiments, involving speck-sized paint fragments of the Van Gogh paintings, were performed at two synchrotron facilities, ESRF in Grenoble (France) and DESY in Hamburg (Germany), and in cultural heritage labs in Italy and The Netherlands.

Next to regular lead chromate, aka "Middle yellow", that chemically is quite stable, Van Gogh also liked to use "Lemon yellow" and "Primrose yellow". Some of the 'non-regular' types turned out to be fairly reactive under light as they have a different crystal structure and/or a higher sulfate content. The more sulfur is present in a chrome yellow pigment, the more unstable it becomes.

In laboratory tests with different samples of chrome yellow paint, those containing the unstable varieties turned brownish/olive green after just a few days of exposure to green-blue light. Regular chrome yellow maintained its colour, also when irradiated with the more damaging UV light and during longer periods.

Aged_Models_Different_Lambda

Figure caption: Light-sensitive lead chromate before (leftmost picture) and after aging with different wavelength bands.
From left to right: before aging, after aging with "UV-VIS", "UV", "Blue" and "Red" wavelength bands.

"We have found the unstable forms of chrome yellow in several well-known paintings, such as 'Portrait of Gauguin' and the famous 'Vase with Sunflowers' of the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam", says Letizia Monico, a Chemistry PhD student in Perugia (Italy) and Antwerp (Belgium) who is the central person in this investigation.

Portrait of Gauguin (VGM) Portrait of Gaugin without Marks

Figure caption: "Portrait of Gauguin" (aka "Man with Red Beret") by Vincent Van Gogh (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).
Marks indicate measurement positions. Insert: Micro-photograph of paint sample, cross-section. (Click on photo's to view them
larger).

Sample of Portrait of Gauguin

Figure Caption: Colour photograph (embedded and polished cross-section) of a minuscule paint fragment from "Portrait of Gauguin", that proved to contain unstable variants of lead chromate.

"As we are aware that both stable and unstable forms of chrome yellow paint were used not only by Vincent Van Gogh but also by Paul Cézanne, we advise musea that own such masterpieces to ascertain whether the unstable forms of chrome yellow were used and if needed to tailor their lighting systems accordingly," summarizes Koen Janssens from the University of Antwerp who coordinated the work of the team.

Costanza Miliani (CNR, Italy) points out that "we were surprised to note that already under conditions of illumination currently considered safe, some of our test samples started changing colour quite quickly".

Bruno Brunetti (Univ. of Perugia) adds "We could show that by means of relatively simple equipment based on reflection of infra-red light, that may be operated in the museum galleries themselves, it is possible to establish which type of chrome yellow is present in a painting."

Ella Hendriks, Head of Conservation at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam concludes: "Studies like these are very important to make museum curators aware that, even under ambient light conditions, the degradation of some sensitive materials proceeds continuously. Musea should carefully consider the potential impact of, for example, the new, LED-based, lighting systems that are now being installed in collections."

LED-emission 

Emission spectrum of a typical "white" LED, containing a substantial portion of harmful blue light. Source: http://www.lightemittingdiodes.org.

 

Press contacts

University of Antwerp, Peter De Meyer, telephone + 32 3 265 47 11 or peter.demeyer@ua.ac.be
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Claus Habfast, telephone +33 4 7688 2128 and +33 666 662 384 or claus.habfast@esrf.fr
Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron, Thomas Zoufal, telephone +49 40 8998 1666 or presse@desy.de

Scientific contacts

 

University of Antwerp,

      Prof. Koen Janssens, koen.janssens@ua.ac.be;

University of Perugia & CNR,

      Prof. Bruno Brunetti, brubo@dyn.unipg.it, Prof. Costanza Miliani, miliani@thch.unipg.it, Dr. Letizia Monico, letizia.monico@gmail.com

Van Gogh Museum & RCE,

      Dr. Ella Hendriks, hendriks@vangoghmuseum.nl; Dr. Muriel Geldof, M.Geldof@cultureelerfgoed.nl

ESRF & CNRS,

      Dr. Marine Cotte, marine.cotte@esrf.fr

DESY,

      Dr. Gerald Falkenberg, gerald.falkenberg@desy.de

 

Media links 4-7 January 2013

 

Kranten- en webartikels in het Nederlands

De Standaard http://www.standaard.be/artikel/detail.aspx?artikelid=DMF20130103_00421588

De Morgen http://www.demorgen.be/dm/nl/992/Wetenschap/article/detail/1557172/2013/01/04/LED-verlichting-kan-schilderijen-beschadigen.dhtml

Het Laatste Nieuws http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/961/Wetenschap/article/detail/1557172/2013/01/04/LED-verlichting-kan-schilderijen-beschadigen.dhtml

De Tijd http://www.tijd.be/telex/algemeen_binnenland/LED_verlichting_kan_schilderijen_beschadigen.9286754-281.art

De Volkskrant http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2676/Cultuur/article/detail/3372079/2013/01/04/LED-verlichting-kan-schilderijen-beschadigen.dhtml

NRC Handelsblad (berichtgeving dd. 21/12/12)

http://www.internetgazet.be/led-lampen-kunnen-schilderijen-beschadigen.aspx

http://article.wn.com/view/WNAT7cee261cff65f5d115d00d793f0509a0

http://www.bouwenwonen.net/news/read.asp?id=32642&content=LED-verlichting-kan-schilderijen-beschadigen

http://www.kunstbeeld.nl/nl/nieuws/20076/led-verlichting-tast-schilderijen-aan.html

http://www.facebook.com/UniversiteitAntwerpen/posts/185851938224182

http://nieuws.be.msn.com/binnenland/led-verlichting-kan-schilderijen-beschadigen

http://binnenland.nieuws.nl/733664/ledverlichting_kan_museale_werken_aantasten

http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4512/Cultuur/article/detail/3372079/2013/01/04/LED-verlichting-kan-schilderijen-beschadigen.dhtml

http://frontpage.fok.nl/nieuws/579611/1/1/100/ledverlichting-kan-museale-werken-aantasten.html

http://historiek.net/nieuws/algemeen/7687-blauw-led-licht-kan-oude-schilderijen-beschadigen

http://www.artlistings.nl/kunstnieuws/3391-led-verlichting-schadelijk-voor-schilderijen

 

LED_DS

 

Trick film auf Deutsch Spiegel On-line http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/led-licht-schadet-gelbtoenen-auf-van-gogh-gemaelden-a-875531.html

Spiegel_TrickFilm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvuPSWT6B_8

http://nachrichten.t-online.de/ursache-fuer-verfaerbte-gemaelde-gefunden/id_61557630/index

http://www.desy.de/aktuelles/@@news-view?id=4381&lang=ger

 

News articles in English

Financial Times Magazine http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/dc33fa94-4bd6-11e2-887b-00144feab49a.html#axzz2H2olJoJ5

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2258344/Scientists-discover-LED-lights-damaging-valuable-masterpieces-artists-including-Van-Gogh-C-zanne.html

http://www.onenewspage.co.uk/n/Science/74vnp5ka0/Lights-off-for-Van-Gogh.htm

http://www.deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws.english/flanders%2Btoday/130104_LED_paintings

http://www.expatica.com/be/news/belgian-news/LED-bulbs-can-damage-paintings_254594.html

http://www.esrf.eu/news/general/led-lights-bad-for-chrome-yellow/index_html/

 

Articles en français

Le Monde http://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/2013/01/04/des-jaunes-de-van-gogh-menaces-par-les-ampoules-led_1812915_3246.html

http://actualite.fr.be.msn.com/actualitebelge/l%C3%A9clairage-%C3%A0-laide-de-lampes-led-peut-endommager-les-toiles-des-grands-ma%C3%AEtres

 

Émission de Télévision

RTBF Journal Televisé http://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_l-eclairage-a-l-aide-de-lampes-led-peut-endommager-les-toiles-des-grands-maitres?id=7901658

 

RTBF_JournalTeleviseLED_KJ

 

14 september 2012 - Press Release in English - Persbericht in het Nederlands - Pressebericht auf Deutsch

 

X-rays unravel mysterious degradation of a van Gogh painting

Supposedly protective varnish caused discolouration – possible implications for other paintings ?

 

Flowers in Blue Vase

(left) Photo of the painting “Flowers in a blue vase” painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1887. The part affected by the discolouration is in the upper right. Credit Kröller-Müller Museum.

 

Discolouration

With a sophisticated X-ray analysis scientists have identified why parts of the Van Gogh painting "Flowers in a blue vase" have changed colour over time: a supposedly protective varnish applied after the master's death has made some bright yellow flowers turn to an orange-grey colour. The origin of this alteration is a hitherto unknown degradation process at the interface between paint and varnish, which studies at DESY's X-ray source PETRA III and at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility ESRF in Grenoble (France) have revealed for the first time.

sample A sample B

sample A sample B
Detail photographs of the painting where micro-samples were taken (left: sample area A; right sample area B). At these locations, the bright yellow original paint can be seen below the orange-grey crust (see arrows). Credit Kröller-Müller Museum.

The results are published in an upcoming issue of "Analytical Chemistry", the first author of which is Geert Van der Snickt, who received a PhD in Conservation and Restoration from the University of Antwerp (Belgium) for this work. The research team was led by Koen Janssens from Antwerp and also comprised scientists from TU Delft (Netherlands), the French CNRS, the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo (Netherlands), the ESRF and DESY. Click on the illustration below to download the entire article.

GeertvdS Anal Chem
Geert van der Snickt (Click on article title to download the full text).

The painting

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painted “Flowers in a blue vase” in 1887 in Paris, and in the early 20th century, the painting was acquired by the Kröller-Müller Museum. The master usually did not varnish his works, but this painting was later covered with a supposedly protective varnish, like many other Van Gogh paintings in the first half of the 20th century. "A conservation treatment in 2009 revealed an unusual grey opaque crust on parts of the painting with cadmium yellow paint," says paintings conservator Margje Leeuwestein from the Kröller-Müller Museum.

The pigment

The cadmium yellow (cadmium sulphide, CdS) used by Van Gogh was a relatively new pigment, of which it has recently been discovered that in unvarnished paintings, it oxidizes with air (to cadmium sulphate; CdSO4) making the pigments lose colour and luminosity. “We identified this process a few years ago, and the observation that instead of a slightly off-white, transparent oxidation layer, the pigments in this painting were covered with a dark, cracked crust intrigued us very much,” says Janssens. "The removal of the orange-grey crust and discoloured varnish was not possible without affecting the very fragile original cadmium yellow paint on these parts," adds Leeuwestein.

paint sample

Microsamples from art masterpieces, moulded in Plexiglass blocks ready for investigation with synchrotron X-rays. The historic paint tube at the bottom is from the personal collection of M. Cotte. Credit I. Montero/ESRF.

Cadmium yellow sample

Optical photograph of a minuscule chip of paint used during the analysis. Lower side: cadmium yellow paint retaining its original bright yellow colour; upper side: discoloured varnish layer rendered opaque by the precipitation of lead sulfate and cadmium oxalate. Credit University of Antwerp.

X-ray Analysis

To identify what had happened, the museum took two microscopic paint samples – each only a fraction of a millimetre in size - from the original painting and sent them to Janssens for a detailed investigation. The scientists studied the samples using powerful X-ray beams at the ESRF and at DESY's PETRA III, revealing their chemical composition and internal structure at the interface between varnish and paint.

CdS sample in X-ray beam

Artists illustration of a plexiglass blockwith a paint microsample mounted for investigation in the vacuum chamber of the synchrotron X-ray microscope (beamline ID21) at ESRF. The small spot in the centre of the plexiglass block is the sample, and the cylindrical tube is the front side of the X-ray detector. Credit ESRF.

P06

Photograph of the X-ray micro/nanoprobe (beamline P06) at the PETRA-III synchrotron of DESY where some of the X-ray analyses were performed. Credit DESY.

To their surprise, they did not find the crystalline cadmium sulphate compounds that should have formed in the oxidation process. "It emerged that the sulphate anions had found a suitable reaction partner in lead ions from the varnish and had formed anglesite," explains DESY scientist Gerald Falkenberg. Anglesite (PbSO4) is an opaque compound that was found nearly everywhere throughout the varnish. "The source of the lead probably is a lead-based siccative that had been added to the varnish," adds Falkenberg.

CdS_results

Distributions of cadmium yellow (CdS), anglesite (PbSO4), cadmium oxalate (CdC2O4) and calcium carbonate (CdCO3) in the area indicated in the photograph (sample area A).

“At the interface between paint and varnish, the cadmium ions together with degradation products from the varnish itself also formed a layer of cadmium oxalate,” says ESRF scientist Marine Cotte. Together with the anglesite, the cadmium oxalate (CdC2O4) accounts for the opaque, orange-grey crust disfiguring parts of the painting on a macroscopic level. This "ingrowth" also makes it very difficult, if not impossible to remove the varnish without damaging the paint layer below.

To varnish or not to varnish ?

After this discovery, conservators in many museums will have to newly address the question of restoring Van Gogh paintings. "This study on the deterioration of cadmium yellow is an excellent example of how collaboration between scientists and conservators can help to improve our understanding of the condition of Van Gogh's paintings and lead to better preservation of his works," says Ella Hendriks, Head of Conservation of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, who did not take part in the study. "Many of Van Gogh’s French period paintings have been inappropriately varnished in the past and removal of these non-original varnish layers is one of the challenges facing conservators on a world-wide basis today. The type of information provided by Janssens and his team is vital to support the difficult decisions that conservators often have to make regarding such complex cleaning treatments."

Reactive chemical cocktail

"Once again, we find that paintings by Vincent Van Gogh are not static entities for decades and centuries to come. Over a period of 100 years, they can actually be considered a fairly reactive cocktail of chemicals that behaves in unexpected manners”, concludes Janssens. Geert Van der Snickt adds that “especially the presence of sulphides puts the durability of the paintings at risk.” In the next four years, Janssens’ research group plans to study how museum indoor conditions and air pollution affect cadmium yellow and related sulphide-containing pigments used by artists.

Press contacts

University of Antwerp, Peter De Meyer, telephone + 32 3 265 47 11 or peter.demeyer@ua.ac.be
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Claus Habfast, telephone +33 4 7688 2128 and +33 666 662 384 or claus.habfast@esrf.fr
TU Delft, Michel van Baal, telephone +31 15 2785454 or M.vanBaal@tudelft.nl.
Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron, Thomas Zoufal, telephone +49 40 8998 1666 or presse@desy.de

Scientific contacts

University of Antwerp,

      Dr. Geert Van Der Snickt, geert.vandersnickt@ua.ac.be ; Prof. Koen Janssens, koen.janssens@ua.ac.be

TU Delft,

      Prof. Joris Dik, j.dik@tudelft.nl

Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron (DESY) - PETRA-III facility,

      Dr. Gerald Falkenberg, gerald.falkenberg@desy.de

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF),

      Dr. Marine Cotte marine.cotte@esrf.fr

Media links 14-19 September 2012

 

 

In English (International)

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2012/09/helping-hand-van-gogh-conservators

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19597399

bbc

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2203153/The-mystery-changing-sunflowers-How-varnish-changed-colour-iconic-Van-Gogh-painting-affect-more.html

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2203153/The-mystery-changing-sunflowers-How-varnish-changed-colour-iconic-Van-Gogh-painting-affect-more.html

http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=35033

http://www.livescience.com/23194-van-gogh-painting-color-change.html

http://www.livescience.com/23193-van-gogh-paintings-science.html

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-09/esrf-xum091312.php

http://www.science-news.eu/nano-materials-news/cluster175443/

http://www.physnews.com/nano-materials-news/cluster346850811/

http://thunderfeeds.com/reader/news/van-goghs-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-xrays-bbc-news

http://www.esrf.eu/news/general/van-gogh-cds/index_html/

http://www.lightsources.org/cms/?pid=1005047

http://www.business-standard.com/generalnews/news/vibrant-colours-in-van-goghs-painting-show-damage-in-x-rays/57059/

http://www.chemspy.com/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-a-van-gogh-painting.html

http://earthsky.org/science-wire/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-a-van-gogh-painting

http://www.sciencecodex.com/xrays_unravel_mysterious_degradation_of_a_van_gogh_painting-98426

http://phys.org/news/2012-09-x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-vincent.html

http://www.lightsources.org/cms/?pid=1005047

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120914080908.htm

http://www.kmm.nl/news/334/Schilderij-Van-Gogh-onderwerp-van-onderzoek

http://www2.cnrs.fr/presse/communique/2775.htm?&theme1=5

http://www.sciencenewsline.com/summary/2012091415020005.html

http://regator.com/p/257517601/x-rays_uncover_the_mysterious_degradation_of_van_gogh/

http://www.allvoices.com/tags/grey-colours

http://www.i4u.com/2012/09/vincent-van-gogh/degradation-van-gogh-x-rays-unravel-painting-mysterious

http://planetsave.com/2012/09/14/x-rays-uncover-the-mysterious-degradation-of-van-gogh-painting/

http://www.realclearscience.com/2012/09/05/mysterious_crust_on_van_gogh_paintings_248851.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/384594/20120914/van-gogh-color-change-chemistry.htm

http://www.bioportfolio.com/resources/pmarticle/357266/Combined-Use-Of-Synchrotron-Radiation-based-xrf-xrd-xanes-And-ftir-Reveals.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49033885/ns/technology_and_science-science

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112694555/van-gogh-painting-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-091512/

http://insciences.org/articles.php?tag=Cadmium%20yellow

http://www.labspaces.net/123516/X_rays_unravel_mysterious_degradation_of_a_Van_Gogh_painting

http://13lei.net/2012/09/15/van-goghs-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-x-rays-bbc-news/

http://www.artandcointv.com/blog/2012/09/cause-of-puzzling-color-change-in-van-gogh-painting-found/                                                                                                                                                                           http://www.azooptics.com/news.aspx?newsID=16105

http://oregonherald.com/news/show-story.cfm?id=414298_&Science-News_Cause-of-Puzzling-Color-Change-in-Van-Gogh-Painting-Found.htm

http://www.nsearch.com/blogs/350/7945/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degrad

http://technology.newsplurk.com/2012/09/van-gogh-flowers-in-blue-vase-damage.html

http://planetsave.com/

http://adwoods.com/?p=30612

http://njuice.com/xrays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-vincent-van-gogh-painting

http://www.coolestblogger.com/2012/van-goghs-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-x-rays-bbc-news/

http://www.stsnews.com/news-why-color-changed-in-van-gogh-painting/

http://scianswers.com/topic/chemical-cause-of-van-gogh-painting-color-change-discovered-redorbit/

http://www.latinospost.com/articles/4145/20120915/van-goghs-flowers-painting-damaged-chemical-compound.htm

http://www.rdmag.com/News/2012/09/General-Science-Test-Measurement-Materials-X-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-a-Van-Gogh-painting/

http://frenchtribune.com/teneur/1213418-chemical-compound-damaging-flowers-van-goghs-blue-vase

http://www.onenewspage.com/n/Technology/74rfhj9gk/Why-color-changed-in-Van-Gogh-painting.htm

http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/art-and-theatre/damage-detected-in-van-gogh-s-flowers-in-a-blue-vase_119171.htm

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/X-ray-reveals-why-flowers-in-Van-Goghs-painting-were-changing-colour/articleshow/16414157.cms

http://www.kbtx.com/mycw8/home/headlines/Cause-of-Puzzling-Color-Change-in-Van-Gogh-Painting-Found-169795696.html

http://dailyhotnews.net/x-rays-spot-van-gogh-work-dulling/


http://www.wolveswired.co.uk/news.php/1452115-Van-Goghs-Flowers-In-A-Blue-Vase-damage-seen-in-X-rays


http://www.allvoices.com/news/12985895-xrays-spot-van-gogh-work-dulling


http://dannyboston.blogspot.fr/


http://www.e-sandesh.com/archives/category/science-2


http://livasperiklis.com/2012/09/15/cause-of-puzzling-color-change-in-van-gogh-painting-found/


http://futurenow321.tumblr.com/post/31526903896/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-a-van-gogh#.UFTRoSpXtoY

http://www.democraticunderground.com/122810317

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120915/van-gogh-painting-damaged-chemical-varnish

http://forum.artinvestment.ru/showthread.php?t=170372&langid=5

http://smanked.com/?p=346186

http://burns33.typepad.com/blog/2012/09/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-van-gogh-painting-protective-varnish-caused-discoloration.html

http://www.grahamhancock.com/news/index.php

http://www.afanews.com/news/art-and-science-meet-to-solve-a-mystery-surrounding-van-goghs-flowers-in-a-blue-vase#.UFYWiCpXtoY

http://articlejacker.com/1874/environment/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-van-gogh-painting-protective-varnish-caused-discoloration/

http://uk.onlinenigeria.com/feed/news/67723-the-mystery-of-the-changing-sunflowers-how-varnish-has-changed-the-colour-of-an-iconic-van-gogh-painting-and-it-could-affect-many-more.txt

http://songmoi.vn/van-hoa-nghe-thuat/sac-mau-bi-an-trong-tranh-van-gogh

http://www.boson.ws/news-and-updates/boson-god-particle-news-updates/van-goghs-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-x-rays-bbc-news/

http://www.247worldnews.net/technology-science/cause-of-puzzling-color-change-in-van-gogh-painting-found-livescience-com/

http://www.qwtnews.com/?p=1068811

http://ikono.org/2012/09/colours-in-van-goghs-painting-show-damage-in-x-rays/

http://updatednews.ca/2012/09/16/van-goghs-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-x-rays/

http://www.zeitnews.org/natural-sciences/chemistry/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-van-gogh-painting

http://beforeitsnews.com/science-and-technology/2012/09/chemical-cause-of-van-gogh-painting-color-change-discovered-2470542.html

http://www.zimbio.com/Vincent+Van+Gogh/articles/9RQ6oCH2a1q/Chemical+Cause+Van+Gogh+Painting+Color+Change

http://goodknews.com/entertainment/2012/09/15/x-rays-spot-van-gogh-work-dulling

http://daily.bhaskar.com/article/WOR-TOP-why-vibrant-flowers-in-vincent-van-goghs-painting-strangely-going-dull-3796248-NOR.html

http://www.daily-sun.com/details_Van-Gogh’s-Flowers-In-A-Blue-Vase-damage-seen-in-X-rays_264_1_7_1_14.html

http://www.care2.com/news/member/543289044/3453586

http://en.paperblog.com/van-gogh-s-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-x-rays-307905/

http://theweirdbit.org/van-goghs-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-x-rays/

https://plus.google.com/118246412183062133215/posts/5vewGLKd7cY

http://portermorgan.typepad.com/blog/2012/09/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-a-van-gogh-painting.html

http://in.keegy.com/post/van-gogh-s-flowers-in-a-blue-vase-damage-seen-in-x-rays/

http://www.silobreaker.com/xrays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-a-van-gogh-painting-5_2265975645219586048

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/artscience/2012/09/in-a-van-gogh-painting-the-flowers-are-changing-color/

http://news.sudanvisiondaily.com/details.html?rsnpid=214215

http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/news/2575141/Mysterious_Degradation_of_Van_Gogh_Painting.html

http://www.daily-sun.com/index.php?view=details&archiev=yes&arch_date=17-09-2012&type=Van-Gogh’s-Flowers-In-A-Blue-Vase-damage-seen-in-X-rays&pub_no=264&cat_id=1&menu_id=7&news_type_id=1&index=14

http://www.science.openleech.org/index.php/component/k2/item/7715-x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-van-gogh-painting-protective-varnish-caused-discoloration

http://equityjungle.com/2012/09/18/why-van-goghs-flowers-are-changing-colors/

http://www.aninews.in/newsdetail4/story73809/why-flowers-in-van-gogh-039-s-painting-were-mysteriously-changing-colour.html

http://en.artron.net/news/news.php?newid=267001

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/scientists-determine-why-colors-change-in-van-gogh-painting

http://www.materialstoday.com/view/28308/x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation/

http://www.research-in-germany.de/108638/2012-09-17-x-rays-unravel-mysterious-degradation-of-a-van-gogh-painting,sourcePageId=8240.html

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/09/15/62-Why-flowers-in-Van-Gogh-s-painting-were-mysteriously-changing-colour.html

http://www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-news-1.nsf/0/DF94F76AE6E3885F80257A7E0034C0F7?OpenDocument

In French

http://sciencesetavenir.nouvelobs.com/fondamental/20120918.OBS2708/un-bouquet-de-van-gogh-qui-se-fane-a-cause-du-vernis.html

http://callways.fr/2012/09/14/les-rayons-x-percent-un-nouveau-mystere-sur-lalteration-dune-oeuvre-de-van-gogh/

http://www.metrofrance.com/lyon/grenoble-un-van-gogh-sous-l-il-du-synchrotron/mlip!vaGqWEEf7LuR2/

Emeline at ID21

http://www.techno-science.net/?onglet=news&news=10822

http://www.newspress.fr/Communique_FR_258001_641.aspx

http://www.futura-sciences.com/fr/news/t/chimie-1/d/fleurs-dans-un-vase-bleu-de-van-gogh-lenigme-de-la-couleur-resolue_41281/


In German

Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, 10 October 2012

FrankfurterAlgemeine

http://www.desy.de/infos__services/presse/pressemeldungen/@@news-view?id=3721&lang=ger

DESY

http://www.tagesschau.de/multimedia/video/sendungsbeitrag191816~_res-.html

Tagesschau ARD

http://idw-online.de/pages/de/news496299

http://www.extremnews.com/berichte/wissenschaft/cad01414c222405/511a1414c2224af/info

http://science.orf.at/stories/1704858/

http://diepresse.com/home/kultur/kunst/1290539/Grauschleier-auf-van-Goghs-Blumenstrauss_vl_backlink=/home/kultur/kunst/index.do

http://wissen.dradio.de/nachrichten.59.de.html?drn:news_id=136567

http://www.fr-online.de/wissenschaft/konservierung-von-gemaelden-ergrauter-van-gogh,1472788,17252364.html

http://www.wissenschaft.de/wissenschaft/news/316172.html

http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wissen/konservierung-von-gemaelden-ergrauter-van-gogh,10808894,17252364.html

http://newsticker.sueddeutsche.de/list/id/1362093

http://www.abendblatt.de/ratgeber/wissen/article2400795/Roentgenblick-entraetselt-verfaerbtes-Van-Gogh-Bild.html

http://www.pressrelations.de/new/standard/result_main.cfm?pfach=1&n_firmanr_=116797&sektor=pm&detail=1&r=507754&aktion=jour_pm&quelle=0

http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/biowissenschaften_chemie/roentgenblick_entraetselt_mysterioese_verfaerbung_202322.html

http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wissen/konservierung-von-gemaelden-ergrauter-van-gogh,10808894,17252364.html

http://www.cafe-europe.info/alle_texte/van-gogh-soll-wieder-strahlen/210313

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/van-gogh-gemaelde-firnis-veraendert-die-farbe-1.1470008

http://scinexx.de/wissen-aktuell-15139-2012-09-17.html


In Italian

http://www.repubblica.it/spettacoli-e-cultura/2012/09/15/foto/risolto_il_giallo_dei_girasoli_di_van_gogh_torneranno_al_loro_colore_originale-42597102/1/?rss

http://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/collection/rubriche_scienza/09/14/Fiori-Van-Gogh-ritrovano-giallo-origine-_7475262.html

ansa

http://www.tafter.it/2012/09/14/arte-i-girasoli-di-van-gogh-ritrovano-il-loro-giallo-originario/

http://www.articolotre.com/2012/09/il-celebre-giallo-di-van-gogh-smette-di-brillare/108814

http://247.libero.it/focus/23098237/1/i-fiori-di-van-gogh-ritrovano-il-giallo-originario/

http://satarlanda.eu/2012/09/14/i-fiori-di-van-gogh-ritrovano-il-giallo-originario/

http://www.ogginotizie.it/169764-aquot-fiori-in-vaso-bluaquot-scoperto-il-a-039-veroa-039-giallo-di-van-gogh/#.UFYh3SpXtoY

http://netmassimo.com/2012/09/16/una-ricerca-scientifica-per-salvare-alcuni-dipinti-di-vincent-van-gogh/

http://www.gazzettadelsud.it/news/cultura/13006/Ritrovato-il-giallo--di-Van-Gogh.html

http://www.fr-online.de/wissenschaft/konservierung-von-gemaelden-ergrauter-van-gogh,1472788,17252364.html


In Spanish

http://www.abc.es/20120917/ciencia/abci-oxalato-envejecimiento-gogh-201209171616.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2012/09/120915_cultura_pintura_van_gogh_daniada_bd.shtml

http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/09/17/cultura/1347883374.html

http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/curiosidades/reaccion-quimica-degrada-flores-cuadro-vincent-van-gogh/

http://www.prensa-latina.cu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=545487&Itemid=1


In Vietnamese

http://songmoi.vn/van-hoa-nghe-thuat/sac-mau-bi-an-trong-tranh-van-gogh


In Russian

http://www.progressnews.info/

In Japanese

http://torinosaezuri.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/yellow-of-van-gogh-ゴッホの黄/

In Swedish

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=478&artikel=5273173

In Dutch
                                                                  
http://www.knack.be/nieuws/cultuur/beeldende-kunst/conservatiebehandeling-kleurt-van-goghs-gele-bloemen-oranjegrijs/article-4000177434712.htm

http://www.standaard.be/artikel/detail.aspx?artikelid=DMF20120914_00296895

DeStandaard

http://www.nwtonline.nl/nl/nieuws/19405/grauwe-van-gogh-verklaard.html

http://www.nieuws.nl/716800

http://nieuws247.com/news/van-goghs-bloemen-niet-grijs-door-verf-maar-door-vernis-de-standaard

http://www.wetenschapsforum.nl/index.php/topic/177678-waarom-van-goghs-gele-bloemen-grijs-worden/

http://drimble.nl/regio/zuid-holland/delft/10595272/vernislaag-maakt-van-goghs-gele-bloemen-oranjegrijs.html

http://www.dejongeakademie.nl/Pages/DJA/33/915.bGFuZz1OTA.html

http://article.wn.com/view/WNATf6b4e0b20db2d7029a7f7c1f293f74b0/

http://www.nd.nl/artikelen/2012/september/14/oorzaak-verkleuring-van-gogh-bekend

http://www.nationalerecreatiegids.nl/ANP/cultuur/5854/Raadsel-verwelking-Van-Goghs-gele-bloemen-opgelost

http://www.rsscockpit.com/article.do?action=show&id=2165393837

http://www.scientias.nl/wetenschap-ontdekt-hoe-van-gogh-gele-bloemen-oranjegrijs-werden/72119

 

PbCrO4_logos.png

12 february 2011

 

Press Release in English - Persbericht in het Nederlands - Communiqué de Presse en Français

Pressebericht auf Deutsch - Comunicato stampa in Italiano

X-Rays show why van Gogh

        paintings lose their shine

youtube_logo Watch clipyoutube_logo

 

 

IllustrationD-klein.jpg

This illustration shows how X-Rays were used to study why van Gogh paintings lose their shine.

Top: a photo of the painting "Bank of the River Seine" on display at the van

Gogh Museum, divided in three and artificially coloured to simulate

a possible state in 1887 and 2050.

Bottom left: microscopic samples from art masterpieces moulded in plexiglass blocks.

Bottom right: X-ray microscope set-up at the ESRF with a sample block ready for a scan.

Centre: an image made using a high-resolution, analytical electron microscope

(EMAT – University of Antwerp) showing affected pigment grains,

and how the colour at their surface has changed due to reduction of chromium.

The scale bar indicates the size of these pigment grains.

Credit: ESRF/Antwerp University/Van Gogh Museum

 

– The mystery of the discolored Van Goghs (Los Angeles Times, 14/02/2011) –

– Why Van Gogh is entering his brown period … (The Independent, 15/02/2011) –

– Van Gogh doomed his sunflowers by adding white pigments to yellow ...  (The Guardian, 15/02/2011) –

– Scientists solve mystery of Van Gogh's colours  changing hue  (The Sydney Morning Herald, 16/02/2011) –   

– Fade to Brown? Van Gogh's Sunflowers Are Changing Color From Sunlight  (Time, 16/02/2011) –

– X-rays show why van Gogh paintings lose their luster. (Deutsche Welle, 16/02/2011) –

 

Scientists have identified a complex chemical reaction responsible for the degradation of two paintings by Vincent van Gogh and other artists of the late 19th century. This discovery is a first step to understanding how to stop the bright yellow colours of van Gogh’s most famous paintings from being covered by a brown shade, and fading over time. In the meantime, the results suggest shielding affected paintings as much as possible from UV and sunlight. The results are published online on 14 February 2011 in the journal Analytical Chemistry of the American Chemical Society.

 

The work was carried out by an international team of scientists from four countries led by Koen Janssens of Antwerp University (Belgium), with Letizia Monico, an Italian chemist preparing a Ph.D. at Perugia University  (Italy) and Antwerp University, taking the centre stage in the experiments. As an Erasmus student, she worked for one year in Janssens’ research group in Antwerp, and is also the lead author of the two papers. Scientists from the CNR Institute of Molecular Science and Technologies (Perugia, Italy), the CNRS C2RMF (Paris, France), TU Delft (Netherlands) and the van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands) were also part of the team. Some of the samples were made available by RCE (formerly ICN), Netherlands.

 

Uncovering the secrets of the chemical reaction needed deployment of an impressive arsenal of analytical tools, with synchrotron X-rays at the ESRF in Grenoble (France) providing the final answers. “For every Italian, conservation of masterpieces has always mattered. I am pleased that science has now added a piece to a puzzle that is a big headache for so many museums” says Letizia Monico from University of Perugia.

 

The experiment reads like a crime scene investigation. The scientists employed an X-ray beam of microscopic dimensions to reveal a complex chemical reaction taking place in the incredibly thin layer where the paint meets the varnish. Sunlight can penetrate only a few micrometers into the paint, but over this short distance, it will trigger a hitherto unknown chemical reaction turning chrome yellow into brown pigments, altering the original composition.

 

Van Gogh’s decision to use novel bright colours in his paintings is a major milestone in the history of art. He deliberately chose colours that conveyed mood and emotion, rather than employing them realistically. At the time, this was completely unheard of and, without major innovations in pigment manufacturing made in the 19th century, would also have been impossible.

 

It was the vibrancy of new industrial pigments such as chrome yellow which allowed van Gogh to achieve the intensity of, for example, his series of Sunflowers paintings. He started to paint in these bright colours after leaving his native Holland for France where he became friends with artists who shared his new ideas about the use of colours. For one of them, Paul Gauguin, he started painting yellow sunflower motifs as a decoration for his bedroom.

 

The fact that  yellow chrome paint darkens under sunlight has been known since the early 19th Century. However, not all period paintings are affected, nor does it always happen at the same speed. A recently documented case in point is briefly discussed at the website of the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam) by Ella Hendriks who, in October 2010, remarkedI had problems with matching the elusive chrome yellow colour of the foot end of the bed with its aged greenish-brown translucent skin.” while describing the restoration of Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” (1888).

 

detail-footend-bed-before.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

detail-footend-bed-after.jpg

Before restoration (brighter areas already cleaned)

 

 

After restoration

 

As chrome yellow is toxic, artists quickly switched to new alternatives in the 1950s. However, Vincent van Gogh did not have this choice, and to preserve his work and that of many contemporaries, interest in the darkening of chrome yellow is now rising again.

 

To solve a chemical puzzle nearly 200 years old, the team around Janssens used a two-step approach: first, they collected samples from three left-over historic paint tubes. After these samples had been artificially aged for 500 hours using an UV-lamp, only one sample, from a paint tube belonging to the Flemish Fauvist Rik Wouters (1882-1913), showed significant darkening. Within 3 weeks, its surface of originally bright yellow had become chocolate brown. This sample was taken as the best candidate for having undergone the fatal chemical reaction, and sophisticated X-ray analysis identified the darkening of the top layer as linked to a reduction of the chromium in the chrome yellow from Cr(VI) to Cr(III). The scientists also reproduced Wouters’ chrome yellow paint and found that the darkening effect could be provoked by UV light.

 

In the second step, the scientists used the same methods to examine samples from affected areas of two van Gogh paintings, View of Arles with Irises (1888) and Bank of the Seine (1887), both on display in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

 

This type of cutting edge research is crucial to advance our understanding of how paintings age and should be conserved for future generations”, says Ella Hendriks of the van Gogh Museum Amsterdam.

 

Because the affected areas in these multicoloured samples were even more difficult to locate than in the artificially aged ones, an impressive array of analytical tools had to be deployed which required the samples travelling to laboratories across Europe. The results indicate that the reduction reaction from Cr(VI) to Cr(III) is likely to also have taken place in the two van Gogh paintings.

 

The microscopic X-ray beam also showed that Cr(III) was especially prominent in the presence of chemical compounds which contained barium and sulphur. Based on this observation, the scientists speculate that van Gogh’s technique of blending white and yellow paint might be the cause of the darkening of his yellow paint.

 

Our next experiments are already in the pipeline. Obviously, we want to understand which conditions favour the reduction of chromium, and whether there is any hope to revert pigments to the original state in paintings where it is already taking place.”, summarises Koen Janssens from University of Antwerp.

 

Some details of the investigation.

 

The techniques used by the scientists in the preliminary phase included X-ray diffraction along with various spectroscopies employing infrared radiation, electrons and X-rays at the universities of Antwerp and Perugia, and at two synchrotrons (ESRF and DESY).

 

I am not aware of a similarly big effort ever having been made for the chemistry of an oil painting”, says Joris Dik, Professor at Delft Technical University.

 

In the decisive step, two techniques were combined using a single X-ray beam at the ESRF: X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) and X-Ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES). For the XRF, the microscopic beam size (0.9 x 0.25 µm²) made possible to separate the study of degraded and unaffected areas, and the XANES technique proved the speciation of chromium, i.e. the reduction from Cr(VI) to Cr(III).

 

"Our X-ray beam is one hundred times thinner than a human hair, and it reveals subtle chemical processes over equally minuscule areas. Making this possible has opened the door to a whole new world of discovery for art historians and conservators,” says Marine Cotte, an ESRF scientist also working at CNRS/C2RMF (Musée du Louvre).

 

The reduction of chromium that had been observed in the artificially aged sample from the atelier of Rik Wouters was finally confirmed in both microsamples from the van Gogh paintings.

 

The study was completed with a nanoscopic investigation of the discoloured paint using high-resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) at the EMAT Centre of the University of Antwerp, which confirmed the results and showed that the newly formed Cr(III) compounds were formed as a nanometer-thin coating of the pigment particles that constitute the paint.

 

Reference: L. Monico et al., Degradation Process of Lead Chromate in Paintings by Vincent van Gogh Studied by Means of Synchrotron X-ray Spectromicroscopy and Related Methods. 1. Artificially Aged Model Samples and 2. Original Paint Layer Samples, Analytical Chemistry 15 February 2011.

 

Monico, Hendriks, Dik, Cotte and Janssens are authors of the paper. Monico is the lead author. The research was supported by the University of Perugia (Perugia, Italy), CNR di Scienze e Tecnologie Molecolari CNR-ISTM (Perugia, Italy), Universiteit van Antwerpen (Antwerp, Belgium), Delft University of Technology (Delft, Netherlands), Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, CNRS UMR171 (Paris, France), van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands),  and European Synchrotron Radiation Facility ESRF (Grenoble, France).

 

30 sec. animation of the investigation of the minuscule painting samples of the Van Gogh painting “Bank of The Seine”, V. Van Gogh (1887). (low resolution mp4 movie)


Click here to download (.MP4)

(6 MB, 600 x 450 pixels/frame)

 

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France

30 sec. animation of the investigation of the minuscule painting samples of the Van Gogh painting “Bank of The Seine”, V. Van Gogh (1887). (high resolution mp4 movie)


Click here to download (.MP4)

(30 MB, 1200 x 900 pixels/frame)

 

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France.

Reprint of "Degradation Process of Lead Chromate in Paintings by Vincent van Gogh Studied by Means of Synchrotron X-ray Spectromicroscopy and Related Methods. 1. Artificially Aged Model Samples",
by
Letizia Monico, Geert Van der Snickt, Koen Janssens, Wout De Nolf, Costanza Miliani, Johan Verbeeck, He Tian, Haiyan Tan, Joris Dik, Marie Radepont, and Marine Cotte,
Analytical Chemistry
83 (2011) 1214-1224,
doi 10.1021/ac102424h

Reprint of "Degradation Process of Lead Chromate in Paintings by Vincent van Gogh Studied by Means of Synchrotron X-ray Spectromicroscopy and Related Methods. 2. Original Paint Layer Samples",
by
Letizia Monico, Geert Van der Snickt, Koen Janssens, Wout De Nolf, Costanza Miliani, Marie Radepont, Ella Hendriks, Muriel Geldof, and Marine Cotte,
Analytical Chemistry
83 (2011) 1224-1231,
doi 10.1021/ac1025122

part1_page1_sm.png
Click here to download (.PDF)

(6 MB)

part1_page1_sm.png
Click here to download (.PDF)

(12 MB)

Published electronically on 14 February 2011, in print on 15 February 2011 by the American Chemical Society.
© ACS, USA

Anal. Chem. 2007 Impact factor: 5.3
Anal. Chem. 2008 Impact factor: 5.7
Anal. Chem. 2009 Impact factor: 5.2

analchemcover_150211_sm.jpg


© American Chemical Society, USA

High resolution photograph of Bank of the Seine (V. Van Gogh, 1887), one of the two paintings from which samples were investigated.

 

 

High resolution photograph of View of Arles with Irises (V. Van Gogh, 1888), one of the two paintings from which samples were investigated.

Bank_of_the_Seine_500x333.jpg
Click here to download (.JPG)

(1.4 MB, 3198 × 2133 pixels)

view_of_arles.jpg
Click here to download (.JPG)

(3 MB, 2520 ×2130 pixels)

sources: Flickr,  Wikipedia
© Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, NL

Captioned version and corresponding animated sequence of simulated past, present and future aspect of ‘Bank of the Seine’ (V. Van Gogh, 1887)

Top: photo of th painting, divided in three and artificially coloured to simulate a possible state in 1887 (year of creation by Van Gogh)

and 2050.

Bottom left: microscopic samples from art masterpieces moulded in plexiglass blocks.

Bottom right: X-ray microscope set-up at the ESRF with a sample block ready for a scan.

Centre: high-resolution, analytical electron microscope image showing

affected pigment grains from the van Gogh painting.

Credit: ESRF/Antwerp University/Van Gogh Museum

Illustration-captioned.jpg
Click here to dow
nload (.JPG)
(3 MB, 3508 x 2416 pixels)
Click here to download (.MP4)
(1.4 MB, 640 x 360 pixels/frame)
Click here to download (.MP4)
(5.5 MB,1280 x 720 pixels/frame)

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France/University of Antwerp, Belgium/Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Uncaptioned version of simulated past, present and future aspect of ‘Bank of the Seine’ (V. Van Gogh, 1887)

Illustration-uncaptioned.jpg
Click here to dow
nload (.JPG)
(3 MB, 3508 x 2416 pixels)

 

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France.

Microsamples from art masterpieces, embedded in Plexiglass plates, ready for investigation.

The two paint tubes contain historic yellow chrome paint are from the personal collection of M. Cotte.

Credit I. Montero/ESRF.

IPhoto-samples-close-up_sm.png
Click here to download (.JPG)
(6.4 MB, 5184 x 3456 pixels)

 

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France.

This photo shows a plexiglass block with a micro sample mounted for investigation in the vacuum chamber of the synchrotron X-ray microscope. The small spot in the centre of the

plexiglass block is the sample, and the cylindrical tube connects it with the X-ray detector.

Credit I. Montero/ESRF

Photo-sample-detector_sm.png
Click here to download (.JPG)
(10.1 MB, 3314 x 5007 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France.

Background: The vacuum chamber of the synchrotron X-ray microscope with the sample stage illuminated.

Foreground: Several microsamples from art masterpieces, moulded in Plexiglass plates ready for investigation.

 

Credit I. Montero/ESRF.

Photo-samples-ID21_sm.png
Click here to download (.JPG)
6.5 MB, 3324 x 4296 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 © ESRF, Grenoble, France.

 

 

Conservation scientist Marine Cotte (F) at work in the control hutch of ESRF beamline ID21


Click here to download (.JPG)
(0.5 MB, 2409 x 1807 pixels)

 

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France.

Optical photograph of yellow leadchromate/leadsulphate paint, obtained from a historical paint tube, belonging to the fauvist painter Rik Wouters, after being freshly applied on a microscope glass.

Credit: University of Antwerp, Department of Chemistry.

Photo-paint-sample-detail.jpgClick here to download (.JPG)
(160 KB, 469 x 178 pixels)

 

 

 

© University of Antwerp, Belgium.

 

Optical photograph of originally yellow leadchromate/leadsulphate paint, obtained from a historical paint tube, belonging to the fauvist painter Rik Wouters, after being artificially aged under UV light during a period of 500 hours. Before the ageing, the paint was applied on a microscope glass.

Credit: University of Antwerp, Department of Chemistry.

Photo-paint-sample-detail-aged.jpgClick here to download (.JPG)
(592 KB, 340 x 293 pixels)

 

 

© University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Artificial aging of chrome yellow paint taken from a historic paint tube, produced this

darkening effect within 500 hours of irradiation by UV light.

Credit: University of Antwerp, Department of Chemistry.

Photo-paint-sample-detail-aged_sm.pngClick here to download (.JPG)
(120 KB, 1204 x 904 pixels)

 

 

 

© University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Optical microscope image of a  sample taken from “Bank of the

Seine” studied with synchrotron X-rays. The brown layer on top of the paint is varnish; while it appears opaque, in reality it lets light through. The brown pigments are invisible to the optical microscope. They are located at the interface between varnish and paint, in a layer less

than three micrometers thick. The scale bar at the bottom indicates the size of the sample.

Credit: University of Antwerp, Department of Chemistry.

Photo-micro-scample_sm.pngClick here to download (.JPG)
(70 KB, 1143 x 956 pixels)

 

 

 

 

© University of Antwerp, Belgium.

This photo shows an aerial view of the ESRF synchrotron in Grenoble, France. The outer

circumference of the ring building is close to 1 km. This houses the particle accelerator along

with 41 experimental stations.

 

Credit: ESRF.

Photo-ESRF-aerial_sm.jpgClick here to download (.JPG)
(2.0 MB, 3768 x 2466 pixels)

 

 

 

© ESRF, Grenoble, France.

This image contains original data from high-resolution, analytical electron microscopy which

shows the affected pigment grains of discoloured paint. Combined with electron energy loss

spectroscopy at the University of Antwerp, it showed that Cr(III) compounds were formed as

a nanometer-thin coating of the pigment particles that constitute the paint.

 

Credit: University of Antwerp, EMAT - Electron Microscopy for Materials Science

Image-STEM-pigments.jpgClick here to download (.JPG)
(120 KB, 566 x 774 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© EMAT, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

STEM/EELS maps of chromium oxide (Cr2O3) and lead sulphate (PbSO4) obtained from one of the grains inside the brown alteration layer of sample A.

 

Credit: EMAT, University of Antwerp, Belgium

STEM_EELS_Map.pngClick here to download (.JPG)
(224 KB, 317 x 307 pixels)

 

Cr2O3   

PbSO4

 

© EMAT, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

 

 

Media contacts:

 

ESRF, Claus Habfast, claus.habfast@esrf.fr +33 4 7688 2128 and +33 666 662 384

University of Antwerp, Peter de Meyer, Peter.DeMeyer@ua.ac.be +32 3 265 47 11

CNR, Marco Ferrazzoli, marco.ferrazzoli@cnr.it +39 06 4993 3383 

CNRS, Laetitia Louis-Hommani, presse@cnrs-dir.fr +33 1 44 96 51 37

TU Delft, Michel van Baal, , M.vanBaal@tudelft.nl +31 15 278 5454

Van Gogh Museum, Janine Fluyt, Fluyt@vangoghmuseum.nl,  +31 20 57 05 221

 

Science contacts:

 

University of Antwerp,

      Prof. Koen Janssens, koen.janssens@ua.ac.be; Dr. Jo Verbeeck, jo.verbeeck@ua.ac.be

University of Perugia & CNR,

      Prof. Costanza Miliani, miliani@thch.unipg.it, Letizia Monico, letizia.monico@gmail.com

TU Delft,

      Prof. Joris Dik, j.dik@tudelft.nl

Van Gogh Museum & RCE,

      Dr. Ella Hendriks, hendriks@vangoghmuseum.nl; Dr. Muriel Geldof, M.Geldof@cultureelerfgoed.nl

ESRF & CNRS,

      Dr. Marine Cotte, marine.cotte@esrf.fr

 

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1 August 2008

PRESS RELEASE - Persbericht in het Nederlands

 

Looking through Van Gogh

Advanced X-ray analysis reveals a portrait below the painting of a landscape

Behind this painting is the portrait of a woman.

 

 

It is well-known that Vincent van Gogh often painted over his older works. Experts estimate that about thirty percent of his paintings conceal other compositions under them. A new technique, based on synchrotron radiation induced X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, reveals this type of hidden painting.

The techniques usually employed to reveal concealed layers of paintings, such as conventional X-ray radiography and Infra-red reflectography, have their limitations. Together with experts from the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron in Hamburg and the Kröller-Müller Museum, TU Delft materials expert and art historian Dr Joris Dik and University of Antwerp chemistry professor Koen Janssens therefore chose to adopt a different approach. The painting is subjected to an X-ray beam from a synchrotron radiation source, and the fluorescence of the layers of paint is measured. This technique has the major advantage that the measured fluorescence is specific to each chemical element. Each type of atom (e.g. lead or mercury) and also individual paint pigments can therefore be charted individually. The benefit of using synchrotron radiation of high energy is that it is strongly penetrating so that element specific analysis well below the visible surface becomes possible. The upper layers of paint distort the measurements only to a small degree. Moreover, the speed of measurement is high, which allows relatively large areas to be visualised.


Patch of Grass

This method was applied to a painting by Vincent van Gogh. The work in question, Grasgrond, was painted by Van Gogh in Paris in 1887 and is owned by the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherlands). Previous research had already discovered the vague outline of a head behind the painting. It was scanned at the synchrotron radiation source DORIS at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY in Hamburg using an intense but small X-ray beam. Over the course of two days, the area covering the image of a woman's head was scanned, measuring 17.5 x 17.5 cm.

 

 

The measurements enabled researchers to reconstruct the concealed painting in unparalleled detail. In particular the combination of the distribution of the elements mercury and antimony (from specific paint pigments) provided a ‘colour photo’ of the portrait which had been painted over.
The reconstruction enables art historians to understand the evolution of Van Gogh's work better. The applied technique is expected to pave the way for research into many other concealed paintings.

Additional investigations performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF, Grenoble) revealed the presence of the pigments Naples' Yellow (lead antimonate, yellow-brown) and Vermillion (mercury sulphide, red), employed by Van Gogh to paint the portrait.

 

 

3 min. presentation by art historian Joris Dik summarizing the examination results (low resolution Quicktime movie)


Click here to download (.MOV)

(10 MB, 600 x 450 pixels/frame)

 

 

 

© TU Delft, NL

3 min. presentation by art historian Joris Dik summarizing the examination results (high resolution Quicktime movie)


Click here to download (.MOV)

(140 MB, 1200 x 900 pixels/frame)

 

 

 

© TU Delft, NL

Reprint of "Visualization of a Lost Painting by Vincent van Gogh Using Synchrotron Radiation Based X-ray Fluorescence Elemental Mapping",
by
Joris Dik, Koen Janssens, Geert Van Der Snickt, Luuk van der Loeff, Karen Rickers and Marine Cotte,
Analytical Chemistry
80 (2008) 6436–6442,
doi 10.1021/ac800965g

(Available free of charge, courtesy of the American Chemical Society).


Click here to download (.PDF)

(3 MB)


Cover illustration of 15 August 2008 hard copy of Analytical Chemistry.

 

 

 

 

 

Published electronically on 30 July 2008, in print on 15 August 2008 by the American Chemical Society.
© ACS, USA

Anal. Chem. 2005 Impact factor: 5.6;
Anal. Chem. 2006 Impact factor: 5.6; Anal. Chem. 2007 Impact factor: 5.3.

 





© ACS, USA

High resolution photograph of Patch of Grass


Click here to download (.JPG)

(2 MB, 1642 × 1280 pixels)

source: Wikipedia
© Kröller-Müller Museum, NL

Analytical chemist Koen Janssens (B) adjusting the alignment of the painting in the X-ray fluorescence spectrometer at beamline L of the DORIS synchrotron facility, Hamburg


Click here to dow
nload (.JPG)
(6 MB, 4256 x 2832 pixels)
Click here to download (.AVI)
(61 MB, 720 x 576 pixels/frame)

 

 

 

© DESY Hamburg, D

© DESY Hamburg, D

Conservators Luuk Van der Loeff (NL, left) and Geert Van der Snickt (B) discussing the results


Click here to download (.JPG)

(5 MB, 4256 x 2832 pixels)

 

 

 

© DESY Hamburg, D

Happy faces at the end of a succesful experiment at the Hamburg synchrotron
Left to right: Koen Janssens (B), Joris Dik (NL), Rinus van Beek (NL), Luuk Van der Loeff (NL), Karin Rickers (D), Geert Van der Snickt (B)


Click here to download (.JPG)
(6 MB, (4256 x 2832 pixels)

 

 

 

© DESY Hamburg, D

 

 

 

Conservation scientist Marine Cotte (F) at work in the control hutch of ESRF beamline ID21


Click here to download (.JPG)
(0.5 MB, 2409 x 1807pixels)

 

 

 

© ESRF Grenoble, F

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting conservator Luuk van der Loeff (NL) removing the painting from the scanning stage at the end of the experiment.


Click here to download (.AVI)

(72 MB, 720 x 576 pixels)

Click here to download (.AVI)

(63 MB, 720 x 576 pixels)

 

 

 

© DESY Hamburg, D

 

 

 

© DESY Hamburg, D

 

 

 

 

 

Conventional transmission X-ray radiograph combined with the X-ray fluorescence 'color photo'


Click here to download (.JPG)
(33 KB, 336 x 424 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

© KMM Otterlo, NL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it a landscape ? It's also a portrait !


Click here to download (.JPG)

(0.7 MB, 903 x 1160 pixels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

© DESY Hamburg, D

 

Press release by TU Delft, NL
Press release of Kröller-Müller Museum, NL
Press release by DESY, Hamburg, D including additional images

Contact information

Office phone

Mobile phone

Dr. Joris Dik, Technical University of Delft (NL)

+31 152 789 571

+31 624 806 855

Prof. Koen Janssens, University of Antwerp (B)

+32 3 820 2373

+32 474 465 532

Geert Van der Snickt, University of Antwerp (B)

+32 3 820 2363

+32 494 624 473

Luuk Van der Loeff, Kröller-Müller Museum (NL)

+31 318 596 161

+31 612 509 778

Dr. Karen Rickers, Hamburger Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (D)

+49 408 998 2930

Dr. Marine Cotte, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (F)

+33 476 882 127

 

 

 



Links to Reactions in worldwide press and media (30 July - 2 August 2008)

 

In the morning of 31 July 2008, the "Hidden Van Gogh revealed" news story was featured as one of the central items on the main page of Yahoo. Among the list of "Most view photo's" on that day were 3 pictures from the scanning experiment.

 

Both synchrotron facilities at which the investigations took place,
placed the item on their main websites.



The press release was also posted on lightsources.org, the joint internet portal of all synchrotron sources.

Articles in the general press. Click on a logo to follow the corresponding link.

2 early articles (30 July 2008) in the Flemish press
(.PDF, in Dutch)

TV coverage (30 July 2008) in Belgium (VTM)
Interview with K. Janssens (Univ. of Antwerp)
(23 MB, .MOV, in Dutch)

TV coverage (30 July 2008) in Belgium(ATV)
Interview with K. Janssens (Univ. of Antwerp)
(13 MB, .MOV, in Dutch)

TV coverage (30 July 2008) in The Netherlands (NOS)
Interview with J. Dik (TUDelft) and L. Van der Loeff
(Kröller-Müller Museum) (8 MB, .MOV, in Dutch)

TV coverage (30 July 2008) in The Netherlands (RTL4)
Interview with J. Dik (TUDelft) and L. Jansen (Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam) (28 MB, .MOV, in Dutch)

Listen to a France-Info radio interview
with Marine Cotte and Joris Dik

('Un Van Gogh peut en cacher un autre', 31 July 2008,
in French)

TV coverage (2 August 2008) in Japan
(0.8 MB, .MOV, in Japanese)

Listen to an NPR radio interview with Koen Janssens or
Watch an NPR video with commentary by Joris Dik

(both from 'All Things Considered', 2 August 2008,
in English)

Listen to a Radio Suisse Romande interview
with Marine Cotte

('Le tableau caché de Van Gogh', 2 September 2008,
in French)

TV coverage (11 September 2008) in Germany (RTL Nord)
"Das Rätsel der versteckter Bilder von Vincent Van Gogh"
with J. Dik (TUDelft) and L. Van der Loeff (Kröller-Müller Museum
),
K. Rickers, W. Drube (DESY) and K. Janssens (UAntwerp)
(52 MB, .MOV, in German)






+ the opinion of several Dutch art experts (in Dutch)













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