Researchers develop high-resolution technique based on Optical Coherence Tomography for non-invasively imaging and analyzing the hidden layers in centuries-old priceless paintings
A painting hanging on the wall in an art gallery tells one story. What lies beneath its surface may tell quite another.
Often in a Rembrandt, a Vermeer, a Leonardo, a Van Eyck, or any other great masterpiece of western art, the layers of paint are covered with varnish, sometimes several coats applied at different times over their history. The varnish was originally applied to protect the paint underneath and make the colors appear more vivid, but over the centuries it can degrade. Conservators carefully clean off the old varnish and replace it with new, but to do this safely it is useful to understand the materials and structure of the painting beneath the surface. Conservation scientists can glean this information by analyzing the hidden layers of paint and varnish.