Rembrandt's An Old Man in Military Costume: the underlying image re-examined
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Applied physics A: materials science & processing. - Heidelberg
, p. 801-811
University of Antwerp
The painting An Old Man in Military Costume in the J. Paul Getty Museum, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, was studied using two complementary, element-specific imaging techniques-neutron activation autoradiography (NAAR) and macro-X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) mapping-to reveal the second, hidden painting. NAAR provided a strong image of the face and cloak of the underlying figure, along with an indication of the chemical composition. The single-element distribution maps produced by MA-XRF mapping provided additional details into the shape of the underlying image and the composition of the pigments used. The underlying figure's face is richer in mercury, indicative of the pigment vermilion, than the face of the figure on the surface. Likewise, the cloak of the underlying figure is richer in copper than the surface figure though the identity of the copper-containing pigment cannot be determined from these data. The use of iron earth pigments, specifically Si-rich umbers, is indicated through the complementary information provided by the NAAR and MA-XRF maps. These data are used to create a false color digital reconstruction, yielding the most detailed representation of the underlying painting to date.