Uncovering Rembrandt's covered up Rembrandt

September 1 2015

Image of Uncovering Rembrandt's covered up Rembrandt

Pictures: Getty/Applied Physics A

The Getty's Rembrandt Old Man in a Military Costume was originally painted over the top of another painting. For some reason, Rembrandt wasn't happy with the first picture, so he turned the panel upside down and started again.

In recent years, there has been something of a quest to establish what the picture underneath looked like. One effort led to an artistic recreation that didn't tell us much (see here).

But now a new team of scientists has come up with a new way of recreating, in colour, an image of the buried painting. A number of scans were made to detect the make up of the pigments in the painting beneath the Getty's Old Man. But the clever part was working out the colour of those pigments, to give the image below. More here in the Wall Street Journal.

Until now, looking at the x-rayed pictures beneath pictures has been a rather unsatisfactory affair, being limited to black and white. The ability to see such buried pictures in colour is a great advance. Bravo to the team who carried out the research, who were:

Karen Trentelman, senior scientist with the Getty Conservation Institute, Koen Janssens and Geert van der Snickt, both from the University of Antwerp, and Joris Dik, of the Delft University of Technology, together with Yvonne Szafran, senior conservator of paintings at the Getty Museum and Anne Woollett, curator of paintings at the Getty Museum.

You can read the full article here.

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