National Gallery of Art - RESOURCES

Scientific Research Department

Introduction | Conservation Materials | Artists' Methods and Materials
Analytical Imaging | Publications | Fellowships

Artists' Methods and Materials

Research on the materials and techniques of works of art seeks to identify the materials used by artists and to understand the ways in which artists handled these materials. While this research often conjures up images of authentication or the exposure of forgeries, most research centers on two issues. One line of inquiry supports conservation treatments by distinguishing between the artist's original work and any alterations introduced by later restorers or by the aging process. Another area of research furthers art-historical studies by tracing the artist's decision-making process, revealed by changes to the work of art made by the artist during its creation or by choices of novel materials and techniques.

Glossary of Terms and Techniques