Restoration of Suzanne Bambridge: extra analyses

Published on 30.03.2017

The restoration of the portrait of Suzanne Bambridge definitely has some surprises in sotre! It seems like many restorations succeeded one another in a very short time span. Therefore, Etienne van Vyve, the conservator, decided to carry out additional analyses to find out more. Here are some of his observations.

During XRF (X-ray fluorescence spectrometry) exams, X-rays scan the surface of the canvas 1 mm at a time. The reflection of the ray generates information on the composition of the mineral elements. Depending on the density of these elements, the researchers can create a map specific to each element. Below we observe the mapping of mercury, zinc and barium, which reveal unexpected details.

Original vs. mercury

Comparaison original-mercure

Etienne van Vyve (EvV), conservator: "Here is the mercury cartography, an element generally present in the color red: we notice an important change in the composition of the blouse (which is more open) or in the presence of floral motifs on the right, which are invisible at the moment. Moreover, the area on the right (the composition of the chair) is split... and therefore probably original. In other words: this analysis gives us a better idea of the changes made by Gauguin himself. "

Original vs. zinc

Comparaison original-zinc

EvV: "Zinc (white) is present in most of the work, but in this case, it is masked (black areas) by a denser pigment. This pigment corresponds to areas that have been retouched or covered in paint probably based on barium (cutting off a part of her right ear)."

Original vs. barium

Comparaison original-baryum

EvV : "The barium mapping clearly shows the restorations made afterwards."