Scientific Results

Interpreting technical evidence from spectral imaging of paintings by Édouard Manet in The Courtauld Gallery

Year: 2018

Authors: Amato S.R., Burnstock A., Cross M., Janssens K., Rosi F., Cartechini L., Fontana R., Dal Fovo A., Paolantoni M. , Grazia C., Romani A., Michelin A., Andraud C., Tournié A., Dik J.

Autors Affiliation: Department of Conservation and Technology, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, UK;
University of Antwerp, Campus Groenenborger Groenenborgerlaan 171, Antwerp G.V. 144 2020, Belgium; CNR‐ISTM, Via Elce di sotto 9, Perugia 06123, Italy; CNR‐INO, Largo E. Fermi 6, Florence 50125, Italy; Centre of excellence SMAArt c/o
Department of Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology, University of Perugia, Via Elce di sotto 9, Perugia 06123, Italy;
Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation, (CRC, USR 3224), Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, CNRS, 36 rue Geoffroy‐Saint‐Hilaire, CP21, Paris 75005, France; Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg 2, Delft 2628, the Netherlands Correspondence Silvia Rita Amato, Department of Conservation and Technology, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, UK

Abstract: The paintings by Édouard Manet in The Courtauld Gallery Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863-68), Marguerite de Conflans en Toilette de Bal (1870-1880), Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil (1874), and A Bar at the Folies–Bergère (1882) were investigated for the first time using a range of noninvasive in situ analyses. The aims of the study were to investigate the painting techniques and materials used for this group of works, and to critically evaluate the technical evidence derived from the integrated use of imaging techniques and portable spectroscopic methods in this context. The paintings were investigated by means of macro X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF), reflection spectral imaging, portable UV-vis-NIR reflection spectroscopy, portable Raman spectroscopy and reflection FTIR. MA-XRF and reflection spectral imaging allowed visualising elements in the compositions that were not visible using traditional methods of technical study. For example, MAXRF analysis of Déjeuner sur l’herbe revealed elements of the development of the composition that provided new evidence to consider its relationship to other versions of the composition. The study also highlighted questions about the interpretation of elemental distribution maps and spectral images that did not correspond to the reworking visible in X-radiographs. For example, in A Bar at the Folies–Bergère Manet made numerous changes during painting, which were not clearly visualised with any of the techniques used. The research has wider implications for the study of Impressionist paintings, as the results will support technical studies of works by other artists of the period who used similar materials and painting methods.

Journal/Review: X-RAY SPECTROMETRY

Volume: 48 (4)      Pages from: 282  to: 292

KeyWords: in-situ investigation; imaging technique; painting; impressioninsm; painting materials
DOI: 10.1002/xrs.2828

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