J.D. De Heem – Still Life with Flowers and Insects
The central work of the 'Flower Power' exhibition (Rockoxhuis Nov 2015- March 2016) was scanned in support of the preceding conservation treatment. The flower still life was investigated in situ, both with XRF and XRD imaging. The measurements revealed the particular painting technique that was used by J.D. De Heem to realize the sparkling colours of his famous still lifes. Amongst other findings, the scans revealed that De Heem obtained an unprecedented depth of colors by applying a monochrome ellipse as underpainting for each flower. In addition to that, for the firs time the degradation products of orpiment were identified by MA-XRD imgaging in a completely non-destructive way. Orpiment is a yellow and highly toxic arsenic sulphide that was used by De Heem to paint the central yellow roses. Measurements showed that the pigment reacted with the existing white lead. As a result these central flowers lost their (optical) depth.
P.P. Rubens – Rockox Triptych
The Rockox triptych was treated in 2015-'16 by conservatorEva Van Zuien. MA-XRF scans were performed in order to obtain a better insight in the layer structure and use of materials, and to support the conservation treatment. Traditional X-Ray Radiographs of the wings proved difficult to read because the coats of arms of the donors were painted on the verso sides
Judith – Jan Masssijs
This 'topstuk' of the Antwerp school was treated in the course of 2015-'16. Previous research suggested that the appearence of the work had changed by discolored pigments and old restorations. MA-XRF scans allowed gaining a better understanding of the original appearance of the composition. The greyish robe of Judith appeared to contain smalt and therefore must have been (bright) blue in its original state. The cloth behind Judit is currently a dark, flat plane, but the resulting MA-XRF images demonstrated that the draping was green in color and must have exhibited much more depth and details. The clouds are brown, a degradation that requires further research on sample material, an interesting defect that was also found in other works of Jan Matsys.
Hans Memling - Christ with singing and music making angels
In the course of their long conservation treatment, these panels have been subject to a wide variety of chemical analysis. Although many questions concerning the painting technique and degradation phenomena were answered, these new insights established new questions . For that reason, additional MA-XRF and MA-rFTIR scans were performed.
Works by James Ensor
A series of works by Ensor was examined in the context of the ongoing Ensor research project led by Dr. Herwig Todts. The aim was to complement the existing knowledge about Ensor's use of pigments and to gain a better understanding of Ensor's reuse of canvases.