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Chemical Imaging of Works of Art at the Macro Scale

This symposium, the culmination of a five-year grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, covers the technological development and implementation of imaging instrumentation, key findings obtained when applied to works of art, and the implications for art history.  Scientists, conservators, and art historians document the success of this project and highlight state-of-the-art work occurring at the National Gallery of Art and other institutions around the world using imaging methods based on reflectance spectroscopy in the visible, near-infrared, and mid-infrared, and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. 

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James Coddington, The Agnes Gund Chief Conservator, MoMA, New York, speaks about what new information obtained from chemical imaging tells us about the working methods of the artist Jackson Pollock, noted for his abstract drip paintings. Coddington spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Damon Conover, engineer, department of electrical and computer engineering, George Washington University, addresses how the information from two or complementary imaging modalities can be mathematically combined to create new information and insights. Conover spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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John Delaney, senior imaging scientist, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, explains what reflectance imaging spectroscopy is, the types of information that can be gleaned from it, and the ideal cameras for studying works of art. Delaney spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Kathryn Dooley, research scientist, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, presents several case studies exemplifying the use of reflectance imaging spectroscopy and imaging x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to the study of paintings and works on paper. Dooley spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Michelle Facini, paper conservator, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, speaks about what new information obtained from chemical imaging tells us about the working methods of Degas in creating his pastel Ballet Scene (c. 1907). Facini spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Melanie Gifford, research conservator, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, discusses what new information obtained from chemical imaging tells us about the working methods of Rembrandt in some of his later works, such as Apostle Paul at the Gallery and Saul and David at the Mauritshuis. Gifford spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Yuriko Jackall, assistant curator, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, speaks about what new information obtained from chemical imaging tells us about the changes made by Fragonard in his painting Young Girl Reading. Jackall spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Koen Janssens, professor, department of chemistry, University of Antwerp, explains x-ray fluorescence imaging spectroscopy, the necessary instrumentation, and various case studies mainly focused around works by Rembrandt. Janssens spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Costanza Miliani, CNR researcher, department of chemistry, University of Perugia, explains mid-infrared imaging spectroscopy and shows an example of a Fourier transform imaging spectrometer and the types of information that can be obtained with it. Miliani spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Marcello Picollo, CNR researcher, Institute of Applied Physics “N. Carrara”, presents several case studies using reflectance imaging spectroscopy of objects from small paintings on copper plates to large frescos. Picollo spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which was supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Ruven Pillay, imaging scientist, C2RMF, Paris, speaks about software for viewing multimodal data sets. He demonstrates how to combine these results with information obtained from 3-D imaging scanning of art objects. Pillay spoke at a one-day symposium held at the National Gallery of Art on September 21, 2015, which supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.