Honorary IIC fellowship awarded to Rudolph van Asperen de Boer

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Friday, 19 January, 2007 - 00:00

At the IIC annual general meeting in London on January 19 2007, an honorary IIC fellowship was awarded to Dr Rudolph van Asperen de Boer. The text of the IIC President's presentation introduction to Dr van Asperen de Boer follows below:

The advancements in analytical techniques applied to works of art promise to be significant in our new century... and perhaps that promise will be realized. We can only hope that the progress will be as astonishing as it was in the 20th century, when we realized an enormous shift in the scope of our vision.

That progress was made possible by unprecedented collaboration among experts from a variety of disciplines, conservators, scholars and scientists, who brought to the effort unique views and capabilities that, combined, advanced our understanding of the material heritage we are charged with protecting.

Such interdisciplinarity gave birth to what we now know as Technical Art History. And although that term continues to search for its own established definition, it is appropriate to recognize now those who advanced this new field and indeed made it possible. Foremost among them is Rudolph van Asperen de Boer, whose achievements we recognize today by awarding him an Honorary Fellowship.

The name van Asperen de Boer has become fully synonymous with Infra Red Reflectography, indeed it is a term he himself coined for a process that sprang from the efforts of Johannes Taubert in the mid 1950's and which reached a pinnacle of development with Dr van Asperen de Boer's gift to the profession... the Vidicon.

Through the influence of Paul Coremans and Edward W. Forbes, Dr van Asperen de Boer taught us the power of infrared energy to expand our vision’Š literally and figuratively. That expansion changed forever the field of conservation research and treatment as well as art historical inquiry and opinion.

But there is more than the development of a single analytical technique to the contributions of Rudolph van Asperen de Boer. He is a master teacher who has influenced generations of art historians, conservators and of course, conservation scientists. He is a scientist and administrator who tirelessly worked to foster interdisciplinarity, cooperation and transparency in every aspect of research. He has been a committed leader and volunteer who served as editor of the IIC Journal, Studies in Conservation, as well as a prolific author of many valuable and groundbreaking works in our profession (many in the IIC Journal). He is a pioneer who championed the production of post and pre prints of conferences and lent his insights to the formation of ICOM-CC in 1967. Dr van Asperen de Boer is a visionary whose early theoretical work laid the foundation for non-destructive analysis of works of art. His interests match is contributions, both broadly reaching and astonishingly varied, from the material analysis of works of art to the naming of a previously unclassified Guatemalan bumble bee.

By his own recollections he was not drawn to contribute to the conservation field in his early years as a scientist. Application of his insights to conservation and art history came through the influence of a number of the most influential pioneers in the field who recognized his talents. And clearly their insight was correct since it was Rudolph van Asperen de Boer who recognized so many of the connections between the emerging developments in science and the efforts to understand and conserve works of art.