Characterisation of sample material

Non-invasive Chemical Imaging

The classic imaging techniques to study artworks in a non-invasive way are X-ray radiography or infrared reflectography, techniques that yield an image that is informative on the structure of a painting but do no allow direct identification of materials. With the development of chemical imaging techniques at the University of Antwerp (AXES), we can go a step further by identifying and visualising the distribution of materials over the surface of an artwork. Such scanning instruments provide chemical information from the entire object (both on and below the surface) while the ensuing analytical results are presented in the form of an image. In this way, the resullting images can be easily interpreted by all heritage stakeholders such as conservators, art historians etc. In the past these techniques have provided information that appeared invaluable for conservators and steered the treatment of key works of art. Additionally, new insights in the genesis and compositional changes of paintings under study has prompted art historical scholars to reconsider the authentification of paintings.