20-21 November 2014
National Centre for Synchrotron Science
Australia/Melbourne timezone
Save the date: User Meeting 2015 - 26-27 November

High-Definition X-ray Fluorescence Elemental Mapping of a Early Tudor Portrait of Henry VIII

20 Nov 2014, 17:30
1h 30m
NCSS Exhibition Area ()

NCSS Exhibition Area

Australian Synchrotron 800 Blackburn Road Clayton VIC 3168
Board: 609


Daryl Howard (Australian Synchrotron)


A Tudor portrait of Henry VIII on oak dating from 1540s is currently undergoing conservation treatment. This treatment includes the removal of restoration paint layers applied prior to its acquisition by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Conventional imaging techniques, x-radiography, infrared reflectography and ultraviolet fluorescence suggested damages underneath the restorations. These include a break in the panel through the centre, the addition of an extra panel piece along the right edge and extensive overpaint by previous restorers. The addition of balsa wood strips to the verso of the panel using a wax and chalk adhesive caused significant interference in the conventional x-radiograph image. High-definition XRF elemental mapping of the painting produced images of the distribution of original and non-original paint layers across the painting. Original and non-original paints were distinguished through historical studies of known pigments from the 16th century such as bone black, natural chalk vermillion, copper-based greens and blues, gold leaf, lead white and iron-based earth colours against those manufactured later, such as chrome greens. The elemental maps are proving invaluable guides in the removal of restoration materials and the retrieval of original details previously obscured, and is providing unique insight into the making of the painting and suggests that miniature and manuscript illumination may have been important technical sources for the artist.
Keywords or phrases (comma separated) Paintings XRF elemental mapping imaging cultural heritage

Primary authors

Daryl Howard (Australian Synchrotron) Dr Kathryn Spiers (Australian Synchrotron) Paula Dredge (Art Gallery of New South Wales) Simon Ives (Art Gallery of New South Wales)

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