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Color Experts Aid in Van Gogh Project

Monday, July 13, 2015

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AMSTERDAM--A new digital color restoration project aims to show what Vincent Van Gogh’s famous Field with Irises near Arles might have looked like when it was first painted in 1888.

AkzoNobel reports it is working with the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, on the project as part of the coatings company’s “Human Cities” initiative.

Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh (1888); Courtesy AkzoNobel

Field with Irises near Arles is one of a series of paintings thought to have been painted by Van Gogh while he was living at the asylum at St.-Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy, France. It is being recreated to show the original paint colors used.

Using technology and techniques regularly employed by the AkzoNobel’s Vehicle Refinishes business, color experts are carrying out a digital restoration of the Dutch artist's famous work, the company announced June 26.

Removing Varnish Layer

Under the direction of Dr. Ella Hendricks, the museum’s head of conservation, the team has removed a yellowed varnish layer that had been applied after Van Gogh’s death.

“Now that the varnish has been removed, we can see that we are on the right path to digitally restoring the original colors,” explained AkzoNobel scientist Eric Kirchner.

Pigment Study

The researchers have taken color measurements to determine the original pigment composition, as several of the pigments used by Van Gogh have faded or darkened over time.

For example, it was found that the blue irises in the painting were actually a purple hue.

Modern conservation ethics will not allow new color to be added; thus, a digital restoration is the only way to recreate the original painting.

AkzoNobel has been a partner of the Van Gogh Museum’s restoration studio since 2013.

Last year, the company launched a Van Gogh Collection, featuring colors inspired by ten of the great master’s works.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Artists; Color; Color + Design; Decorative painting; Design; Europe

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