X-ray-ing Rembrandt

January 29 2013

Image of X-ray-ing Rembrandt

Picture: Getty Institute

The Getty has known since 1984 that their 1630-31 Portrait of an Old Man by Rembrandt (above) was painted over another, inverted, portrait - but now new x-ray techniques have apparently allowed curators to get a better idea of what the mystery picture looks like, and even attempt to recreate it. From Live Science:

"Our experiments demonstrate a possibility of how to reveal much of the hidden picture," Matthias Alfeld from the University of Antwerp said in a statement. "Compared to other techniques, the X-ray investigation we tested is currently the best method to look underneath the original painting."

Alfeld and an international team used macro X-ray fluorescence analysis to examine a mock-up of Rembrandt's original, created by museum intern Andrea Sartorius, who used paints with the same chemical composition as those used by the Dutch master. Sartorius painted one portrait on the canvas and then an imitation of "Old Man in Military Costume" on top.

Here's what the reproduction looks like:

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