Probably the most well-known work from the Dutch Golden Age is Rembrandt van Rijn‘s 1642 masterpiece The Evening Watch. An interdisciplinary workforce of researchers has performed a contemporary, in-depth evaluation and located uncommon traces of a compound referred to as lead formate within the portray, in keeping with a current paper printed within the journal Angewandte Chemie. The work was a part of the Rijksmuseum’s Operation Evening Watch, the most important multidisciplinary analysis and conservation undertaking but undertaken for Rembrandt’s well-known portray, dedicated to its long-term preservation.
“In Operation Evening Watch we deal with Rembrandt’s portray method, the situation of the portray, and the way we are able to greatest protect it for future generations,” stated Katrien Keune, head of science at Rijksmuseum and professor on the College of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). “The lead formate provides us priceless new clues in regards to the doable use of lead-based oil paint by Rembrandt and the potential impression of oil-based varnishes from previous conservation therapies, and the advanced chemistry of historic oil work.”
Science has turn out to be a priceless device for artwork conservationists, particularly numerous X-ray imaging strategies. As an illustration, again in 2019, we reported on how lots of the oil work on the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, had been growing tiny, pin-sized blisters, nearly like pimples, for many years. Conservationists and students initially assumed the blemishes have 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 kind the blisters and migrate by way of the paint movie.
Conservators have discovered comparable deterioration in oil-based masterpieces throughout all time durations, together with in works by Rembrandt. As an illustration, 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 research samples utilizing nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and synchrotron-based X-ray strategies.
In 2020, scientists analyzed Edvard Munch’s The Scream (which was displaying alarming indicators of degradation) and concluded the injury was not the results of publicity to gentle, however humidity—particularly, from the breath of museum guests, maybe as they lean in to take a better 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 methods to research paint samples below infrared gentle to find out the composition of the damaging metallic carboxylate soaps that had shaped on the highest layer of paint.