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Large-area elemental imaging reveals Van Eyck's original paint layers on the Ghent Altarpiece (1432), rescoping its conservation treatment

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Abstract
A combination of large-scale and micro-scale elemental imaging, yielding elemental distribution maps obtained by, respectively non-invasive macroscopic X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) and by secondary electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDX) and synchrotron radiation-based micro-XRF (SR m-XRF) imaging was employed to reorient and optimize the conservation strategy of van Eyck's renowned Ghent Altarpiece. By exploiting the penetrative properties of X-rays together with the elemental specificity offered by XRF, it was possible to visualize the original paint layers by van Eyck hidden below the overpainted surface and to simultaneously assess their condition. The distribution of the high-energy Pb-L and Hg-L emission lines revealed the exact location of hidden paint losses, while Fe-K maps demonstrated how and where these lacunae were filled-up using an iron-containing material. The chemical maps nourished the scholarly debate on the overpaint removal with objective, chemical arguments, leading to the decision to remove all skillfully applied overpaints, hitherto interpreted as work by van Eyck. MA-XRF was also employed for monitoring the removal of the overpaint during the treatment phase. To gather complementary information on the in-depth layer build-up, SEM-EDX and SR mu-XRF imaging was used on paint cross sections to record microscale elemental maps.
Keywords
chemical imaging, Ghent altarpiece, MA-XRF scanning, SEM-EDX, van Eyck

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Chicago
Van der Snickt, Geert, Hélène Dubois, Jana Sanyova, Stijn Legrand, Alexia Coudray, Cécile Glaude, Marie Postec, Piet Van Espen, and Koen Janssens. 2017. “Large-area Elemental Imaging Reveals Van Eyck’s Original Paint Layers on the Ghent Altarpiece (1432), Rescoping Its Conservation Treatment.” Angewandte Chemie-international Edition 56 (17): 4797–48011.
APA
Van der Snickt, G., Dubois, H., Sanyova, J., Legrand, S., Coudray, A., Glaude, C., Postec, M., et al. (2017). Large-area elemental imaging reveals Van Eyck’s original paint layers on the Ghent Altarpiece (1432), rescoping its conservation treatment. ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION, 56(17), 4797–48011.
Vancouver
1.
Van der Snickt G, Dubois H, Sanyova J, Legrand S, Coudray A, Glaude C, et al. Large-area elemental imaging reveals Van Eyck’s original paint layers on the Ghent Altarpiece (1432), rescoping its conservation treatment. ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION. 2017;56(17):4797–48011.
MLA
Van der Snickt, Geert, Hélène Dubois, Jana Sanyova, et al. “Large-area Elemental Imaging Reveals Van Eyck’s Original Paint Layers on the Ghent Altarpiece (1432), Rescoping Its Conservation Treatment.” ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION 56.17 (2017): 4797–48011. Print.
@article{8541915,
  abstract     = {A combination of large-scale and micro-scale elemental imaging, yielding elemental distribution maps obtained by, respectively non-invasive macroscopic X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) and by secondary electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDX) and synchrotron radiation-based micro-XRF (SR m-XRF) imaging was employed to reorient and optimize the conservation strategy of van Eyck's renowned Ghent Altarpiece. By exploiting the penetrative properties of X-rays together with the elemental specificity offered by XRF, it was possible to visualize the original paint layers by van Eyck hidden below the overpainted surface and to simultaneously assess their condition. The distribution of the high-energy Pb-L and Hg-L emission lines revealed the exact location of hidden paint losses, while Fe-K maps demonstrated how and where these lacunae were filled-up using an iron-containing material. The chemical maps nourished the scholarly debate on the overpaint removal with objective, chemical arguments, leading to the decision to remove all skillfully applied overpaints, hitherto interpreted as work by van Eyck. MA-XRF was also employed for monitoring the removal of the overpaint during the treatment phase. To gather complementary information on the in-depth layer build-up, SEM-EDX and SR mu-XRF imaging was used on paint cross sections to record microscale elemental maps.},
  author       = {Van der Snickt, Geert and Dubois, H{\'e}l{\`e}ne and Sanyova, Jana and Legrand, Stijn and Coudray, Alexia and Glaude, C{\'e}cile and Postec, Marie and Van Espen, Piet and Janssens, Koen},
  issn         = {1433-7851},
  journal      = {ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION},
  keyword      = {chemical imaging,Ghent altarpiece,MA-XRF scanning,SEM-EDX,van Eyck},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {17},
  pages        = {4797--48011},
  title        = {Large-area elemental imaging reveals Van Eyck's original paint layers on the Ghent Altarpiece (1432), rescoping its conservation treatment},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201700707},
  volume       = {56},
  year         = {2017},
}

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