Hidden Signatures on Paintings Found with Infrared!
I am often asked about utilizing infrared light to inspect old paintings. The idea is usually brought up in the context of finding a hidden signature or reading faded or obscured inscriptions in the interest of authentication of paintings. I’ve got some great stories to tell including looking for a treasure map under a painting that was supposed to smuggled out of Nazi Germany in WWII. It’s a very interesting subject that really fires up the imagination of many art collectors… and sometimes produces exciting results… and sometimes just the opposite! See what happens in this video!
So, as you can imagine, the appraised value of the three examples in this video all changed, some for the better and some for the worse, because of what was found with these inspections! Infrared, as you can see in this video, is different than looking at paintings with ultraviolet light. While even the casual art collecting enthusiast can own a UV black light to discover hidden details, this IR reflectometer may be the only unit available to you in a private lab this side of the US. UV visible fluorescence only causes the surface to glow put doesn’t penetrate. Infrared light penetrates the thinner layers of paint, the more transparent layers of paint, dark varnishes and often reveal:
- Obscured signatures or fraudulently altered signatures
- Inscriptions underneath linings
- Inscriptions in pencil on stretcher bars that have been obscured by dirt or the darkening of the wood color
- Often restorations are visible that are not detectable with UV only
- Under drawings or sketches made by the artist in planning the composition.
Infrared cameras that see only IR radiation are called infrared reflectometers. They can be used on all kinds of artwork to gather clues.
There is no guarantee that something will appear if inspected with IR. Perhaps there is too much paint over the inscription; perhaps the inscription is transparent to the IR detection… or perhaps there is nothing there!
If you have questions about an art item of yours, feel free to call and discuss it with Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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For more information about utilizing UV to detect previous restorations, CLICK HERE
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