Using Optical Microscopy to Discover Artists’ Ways of Painting
Date: Thursday, 10 February 2022
Time: 3pm GMT
Tutor: Barbara H. Berrie
This IAP Virtual seminar will consist of a 55 minute presentation by Barbara H. Berrie followed by 15 minutes of discussion and questions.
In this seminar (original title The Eyes have It: In Praise of Optical Microscopy) Barbara Berrie will show case studies where optical microscopy has been an invaluable tool in discovering artists’ ways of painting. She will also discuss other cases which, though requiring instrumental analysis, also needed to make use of optical microscopy as part of an analysis protocol.
High-magnification stereomicroscopy of a painted surface can already reveal whether a colour is made from a pure pigment or a mixture of several pigments. Layers of paint and priming can sometimes be seen clearly by examination of areas of paint loss. However, in cases where it is difficult to discern such things, a tiny paint scraping can be made and a cross-section examined under the microscope.
Barbara H. Berrie is head of the scientific research department and senior conservation scientist in the conservation division at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. She provides scientific and technical support to all aspects of conservation and preservation of the Gallery’s collections. She studies the materials, especially pigments, and painting methods of artists in order to aid the understanding of the artist’s original intention, to address issues of authenticity and to support the preservation of artworks. She is the editor of Volume 4 of the series Artists Pigments – a Handbook of their history and characteristics.