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American Chemical Society's Weekly PressPac -- July 30, 2008
Date:8/4/2008

ARTICLE #1 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New imaging technique reveals hidden details of a lost Van Gogh painting
Analytical Chemistry

European researchers are reporting the first use of a powerful new imaging technique to reveal with unprecedented detail a Van Gogh under a Van Gogh the portrait of a woman hidden underneath one of the fabled Dutch Master's landscapes. Their study, which could provide new insights into the hidden details of other paintings, was scheduled for the July 29 online issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

Joris Dik and colleagues note that Vincent van Gogh, one of the founding fathers of modern painting, saved canvas by painting-over as many as one-third of his early period works with new or modified pictures. However, current imaging tools used by museums are unable to clearly visualize many of these hidden images, which offer unique and intimate insights into the artist's works, the researchers say.

In the new study, the researchers used their new non-destructive technique, called Synchrotron Radiation-based X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Elemental Mapping, to analyze Van Gogh's Patch of Grass painting. Although conventional imaging techniques previously showed that the painting contained the hidden image of a woman's head, the details were blurred. The new technique reveals more detailed information about the chemical composition of the hidden paint layers. As a result, the scientists could construct a clearer and more colorful image of the hidden head. The image even includes brush strokes and facial features such as eyes, nose, mouth, and chin. The reconstructed image shows the dark, somber-head of a Dutch peasant woman, similar to a series of head portraits from Van Gogh's early career, the researchers say. MTS

ARTICLE #1 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"A Lost Painting by Vincent van Gogh Visualized by Synchrotron Radiation-based XRF Elemental
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Contact: Michael Woods
m_woods@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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