The Unique History of The Armorer’s Shop; an application of confocal X-ray fluorescence microscopy

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Journal Article


Woll, Arthur R.; Ocon, Noelle; Mass, Jennifer; Bisulca, Christina; Cushman, Matt; Griggs, Carol; Wazny, Tomasz;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 53, Number 2, p.93-109 (2008)


This article presents a multidisciplinary case study of The Armorer’s Shop (North Carolina Museum of Art), a seventeenthcentury panel painting attributed to David Teniers the Younger of Flanders. The study was motivated, first, by visual and X-ray radiographic observations suggesting an atypical construction, and second, by the discovery that the depiction of armor in this painting is nearly identical to that in several other works. All but one of these paintings are attributed to Jan Brueghel the Younger, a contemporary Flemish painter related to Teniers by marriage. Stylistic analysis strongly supports the hypothesis that Brueghel completed the armor, whereas Teniers painted the background, figures and objects depicted around the armor. A broad range of materials analysis techniques, particularly cross-sectional analysis, dendrochronology and confocal X-ray fluorescence microscopy (CXRF), were used to establish whether the panel construction and palette composition are consistent with this hypothesis. Dendrochronology shows that the panel was fabricated from three distinct wood planks, and suggests that the smallest of these, the armor plank, was painted approximately 20 years before the other two. CXRF provides direct evidence that this plank was painted before the three planks were combined. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first evidence of the work of a seventeenthcentury Flemish painter being re-used in this fashion by a second contemporary painter.