Cobra tv covers UA research on Van Eyck's Mystic Lamb

Datum: 1 juli 2014

Inleiding: The recent implementation of MA-XRF scanning by the UAntwerp contributed significantly to the ongoing conservation treatment of Van Eyck's Mystic Lamb. In a short movie, researchers of the AXES group (min. 3:12) explain how their new imaging technique helped assessing the condition of original, overpainted paint layers

A news item by Cobra tv highlights the intensive collaboration of university reseachers (from UA and UG) and conservators from the KIK-IRPA. Earlier this year, conservators discovered that large areas on the back side of the panels have been overpainted. During Spring, elemental distribution maps were collected with the home-built macro X-ray fluorescence scanner of the AXES research group. The final result of the experiment consists in a set of images, each showing the distribution of a particular chemical element over the paint surface. As each element can be correlated to a specific pigment or painting material, the ensuing maps allow studying the painting technique in a way that was never possible before. Moreover, this analytical technique also supplied information from below the paint surface, a feature that permitted assessing the condition of Van Eycks original paint layers. In particular, the measurements did not only reveal in great detail the areas where small damages occured, the images also demonstrated how a material rich in iron oxides was used to fill small lacunae. Based on these new insights and on their own observations, the conservators decided to remove the overpaints in consultation with an international comitee of experts.