I spy, with my little eye

March 17, 2010

A wonderful neo-grec painting in a library. Can you see?

It has been painted in 1876. And in the 1930’s. And also in the 1980’s. They painted in the losses that occurred because of the changes in temperature and relative humidity.
It is placed above a stove – and the paint is older now. Flexibility is seldom developed with getting older! So some paint fell off. It wasn’t able to expand and contract anymore.

A little dab of green here, a quick brushstroke there, some new bronze paint….not every housepainter was a Rembrandt but they did their best.

Can you see?

Shall I help you?

All the different paint used by the various painters (artistic or not) behaves in their own way in different light. This is the picture when it is observed with UV-radiation.
The unobscured parts have a light green fluorescence, as if it is wearing a white shirt in a club with black-lights. The bronze paint looks almost black, as does the almost completely overpainted background.
And now we can see better. Any later overpaint we desire to take away during the conservation process can be perfectly detected.