Probably the most well-known work from the Dutch Golden Age is Rembrandt van Rijn‘s 1642 masterpiece The Night time Watch. An interdisciplinary workforce of researchers has carried out a contemporary, in-depth evaluation and located uncommon traces of a compound known as lead formate within the portray, in accordance with a current paper printed within the journal Angewandte Chemie. The work was a part of the Rijksmuseum’s Operation Night time Watch, the biggest multidisciplinary analysis and conservation undertaking but undertaken for Rembrandt’s well-known portray, dedicated to its long-term preservation.
“In Operation Night time Watch we concentrate on Rembrandt’s portray method, the situation of the portray, and the way we are able to finest protect it for future generations,” mentioned Katrien Keune, head of science at Rijksmuseum and professor on the College of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). “The lead formate offers us worthwhile new clues in regards to the doable use of lead-based oil paint by Rembrandt and the potential affect of oil-based varnishes from previous conservation remedies, and the complicated chemistry of historic oil work.”
Science has develop into a worthwhile device for artwork conservationists, particularly numerous X-ray imaging strategies. As an example, again in 2019, we reported on how most of the oil work on the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, had been growing tiny, pin-sized blisters, virtually like pimples, for many years. Conservationists and students initially assumed the blemishes had been grains of sand trapped within the paint. Chemists concluded that the blisters are literally metallic carboxylate soaps, the results of a chemical response between metallic ions within the lead and zinc pigments and fatty acids within the binding medium used within the paint. The soaps begin to clump collectively to type the blisters and migrate by way of the paint movie.
Conservators have discovered related deterioration in oil-based masterpieces throughout all time durations, together with in works by Rembrandt. As an example, the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York Metropolis has an ongoing undertaking to find out the causes and mechanisms of metallic cleaning soap formations on conventional oil work; it’s collaborating with scientists at Brookhaven Nationwide Laboratory to investigate samples utilizing nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and synchrotron-based X-ray strategies.
In 2020, scientists analyzed Edvard Munch’s The Scream (which was exhibiting alarming indicators of degradation) and concluded the injury was not the results of publicity to mild, however humidity—particularly, from the breath of museum guests, maybe as they lean in to take a more in-depth take a look at the grasp’s brushstrokes. In March 2022, scientists studied the deterioration of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Gypsy Lady with Mandolin (circa 1870). They used three complementary strategies to investigate paint samples beneath infrared mild to find out the composition of the damaging metallic carboxylate soaps that had shaped on the highest layer of paint.