Chemistry Lecture Will Address Vanishing Images in Paintings

Dr. Jennifer Mass, Senior Scientist and Laboratory Director of the Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory at the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum, will present a lecture on April 5 at 12:15 p.m. in Pfahler 208. The title of the talk is “The Synchrotron and the Masterpiece: Uncovering Vanishing Images in Paintings Using X-Ray Fluorescence and Absorption Spectroscopies.” The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Jennifer Mass

Dr. Jennifer Mass

Mass will discuss the scientific analysis of objects of art, which is carried out to address questions about a work’s authenticity, construction, state of preservation and mechanisms of degradation. Given the irreplaceable nature of the works studies, this research must be conducted either totally nondestructively or on microsamples alone. In the past few years, there has been a growing awareness of the alteration/color change of cadmium yellow pigments in the works of Henri Matisse and his contemporaries, including Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch and Georges Seurat.

Evidence for the alteration of the yellow paints in Henri Matisse’s Le Bonheur de vivre (1905-6, The Barnes Foundation) has been observed since the 1990s. Changes in this iconic work of Matisse’s Fauvist period include fading, darkening and flaking of the yellow paints.

One thought on “Chemistry Lecture Will Address Vanishing Images in Paintings

  1. Dr. Mass,
    I am an art restauration student in Paris conducting a research project on Cadmium yellow. I fell upon this page coincidentally, and was very curious. I am having a hard time getting response and in depth information. I am also starting to realise that perhaps it is still quite a fresh topic, specifically its deterioration, and that research is still being conducted. Are you able to help me? Any information into studies of degradation of this pigment would be very much appreciated!
    Valentine Klaasen
    (2nd year student at ‘Atelier du Temps Passe’, Paris)

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