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.