Lost Wyeth revealed by synchrotron

User menu

Place: 
Delaware

The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) has been utilised to reveal a hidden painting by N. C. Wyeth in colour for the first time.

It was twelve years ago that the 1923 painting ‘Family Portrait’ was found to have a second work lying beneath: a scene from a 1919 Everybody's Magazine article called ‘The Mildest Mannered Man’. CHESS scientists teamed up with conservators and Jessica L. Mass, senior scientist at Delaware's Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, to examine Wyeth's ‘Family Portrait’ using confocal X-ray fluorescence.

The technique enables colour reconstruction of works of art which have been painted over. The X-ray fluorescence from each colour of paint provides a unique signature spectrum which can be mapped to reconstruct original colours. This way, unlike traditional X-rays, the hidden image can be shown in colour.

For details, see the Cornell website.