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See detailThe Artist's Materials: René Magritte
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Vandepitte, Francisca

Book published by Getty Conservation Institute (in press)

In accordance with the general topic of GCI series, this book stemming from the research project Magritte on practice (MOP), focuses on the material and technical aspects of René Magritte’s painted ... [more ▼]

In accordance with the general topic of GCI series, this book stemming from the research project Magritte on practice (MOP), focuses on the material and technical aspects of René Magritte’s painted production. MOP (2016-2018) has consisted of the physical and chemical analysis of an extended corpus of Magritte’s paintings from the Magritte Museum of Brussels, which currently houses the most important compilation of the Magritte’s works in the world. In that respect, 50 oil paintings and 10 gouaches, completed by the artist between 1920 and 1967, have been analyzed in situ, through non-invasive imaging and analytical techniques, namely hyperspectral imaging, IR-reflectography, X-ray radiography, high-resolution photography, Raman spectroscopy, Fourier-Transform Infra-Red spectroscopy in reflectance mode, digital and optical microscopy and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy in scanning mode. This serial and multi-analytical study sought to address multiple issues; the evolution of Magritte’ studio practice through time, the discovery of underlying compositions and the understanding of the speckles syndrome that affect some of his early surrealist oil paintings. The present book releases the significant outcomes gained in these regards. Studio practice The systematic application of the same analytical protocol on 60 paintings that cover the whole Magritte’s career has allowed attaining a comprehensive overview of the painter’s habits and preferences from a practical point of view. While the imaging techniques have helped to reconstruct the making process of the studied works from the preparatory drawing to varnishing, passing through the paint layers implementation; the analytical methods have revealed the important changes occurred on Magritte’s palette over the years. Discovery of lost compositions In total 6 underlying compositions, among which are the last missing quarter of La pose enchantée (1927) and the missing feet part from L’évidence éternelle (1954), have been discovered within the studied corpus. Thanks to the multi-analytical approach, the date, the subject, the style and the palette related to the hidden pictures have been disclosed in almost every case. Additionally, the in-depth study of those “double paintings” has permitted exploring how Magritte transformed an old image into a new one, and has revealed that the visible images often exhibit reminiscent features of the overpainted compositions. Speckles syndrome The corpus incorporates 6 early surrealist oil paintings with similar visually disturbing networks of dark speckle-like stains on their overall surface, referred in the book as speckles syndrome. By highlighting the common denominators between the affected pictures, it has been possible to clearly identify the degradation process, the compounds and the environmental factors at the origin of the speckles syndrome. [less ▲]

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See detailLe IIe style « ostien » sous enquête. Imagerie et analyses physico-chimiques des enduits peints de la Domus aux Bucranes
Herens, Elodie ULiege; Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Motta, Lucie et al

in Mainet, Grégory; Graziano, Stella (Eds.) Proceedings of the conference Ricerche Archeologiche alla Foce del Tevere (2021)

La découverte de la Domus aux Bucranes, une maison tardo-républicaine remarquablement bien conservée dans les couches les plus profondes du site de la Schola del Traiano à Ostia Antica , a permis le ... [more ▼]

La découverte de la Domus aux Bucranes, une maison tardo-républicaine remarquablement bien conservée dans les couches les plus profondes du site de la Schola del Traiano à Ostia Antica , a permis le développement d’un projet de recherche interdisciplinaire portant sur le système décoratif de IIe style (pavements, enduits peints et reliefs de stuc) mis en œuvre à l’embouchure du Tibre, au cours du Ier s. av. J.-C. Outre son état de conservation exceptionnel, qu’il s’agisse d’éléments retrouvés in situ ou intégrés sous la forme de fragments dans les couches de remblais liés aux chantiers successifs, le système décoratif de la Domus aux Bucranes se distingue par la qualité des matériaux utilisés aussi bien que par la très grande maîtrise technique et artistique des ateliers alors sollicités. Fait remarquable : la fouille et l’étude de la stratigraphie de ce gisement a permis de restituer une séquence chronologique très précise concernant les phases de construction (60-50 av. J.-C.) et de destruction (30-20 av. J.-C.) de la domus, ainsi qu’une phase de restructuration intermédiaire (40-30 av. J.-C.) limitée à quelques pièces seulement. Si la destruction précoce de l’édifice a favorisé la conservation des pavements, ainsi que des enduits peints et des reliefs de stucs , la succession de deux phases de décoration durant le temps d’une même génération livre des informations de toute première importance quant à l’évolution du IIe style en Italie centrale, dans ses formes esthétiques aussi bien que dans ses compositions chimiques, au cours du deuxième tiers du Ier s. av. J.-C. De ce fait, en complément des traditionnelles études archéologiques et stylistiques, des analyses archéométriques ont été portées sur une partie significative du matériel sous enquête. Une telle démarche n’avait jamais encore été entreprise à Ostia Antica - sur des éléments en contexte aussi anciens - et les résultats obtenus, en cours d’interprétation , composeront une base de données de référence pour l’étude d’autres ensembles contemporains à Rome et ses environs. Nous en livrons ici les prémices, en limitant toutefois nos réflexions sur l’une des pièces restructurées et décorées durant la phase intermédiaire (40-30 av. J.-C.), l’« œcus des nains », ainsi nommée du fait de la nature des personnages mis en scène sur la frise peinte qui dominait la composition de cette pièce hors du commun. [less ▲]

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See detailSurvey on Van Gogh’s early painting technique through the non-invasive and multi analytical study of Head of peasant
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Marechal, Dominique; Vandepitte, Francisca et al

in Heritage Science (2020), 8

The strong lighting of the face against a dark background, the bold brushstroke and the model’s expressiveness that characterize Van Gogh’s Head of peasant, belonging to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of ... [more ▼]

The strong lighting of the face against a dark background, the bold brushstroke and the model’s expressiveness that characterize Van Gogh’s Head of peasant, belonging to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium collections, are typical features found in the peasant heads studies painted in Nuenen, in March–April 1885, in prevision of the well- known The Potato Eaters. However, this oil painting additionally testifies of Van Gogh’s early experiments in regards with the laws of colors, the flesh rendering and portraying models under artificial light. In order to collect material and technical information revealing how the painter practically handled these issues, the Brussels peasant head has been investigated in situ by complementary non-invasive imaging and analytical methods. While the identified pigments strictly reflect Van Gogh’s palette in Nuenen, relevant outcomes regarding the flesh tones composition, the rendered forceful expression of the figure, the effect of a face painted by lamplight, and the use of simultaneous color contrasts were achieved. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscovery and material study of the missing feet part from Magritte’s L’évidence éternelle of 1954
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Vandepitte, Francisca; Herens, Elodie ULiege et al

in Heritage Science (2019)

One of the two missing canvases from L’évidence éternelle of 1954, the one of the feet, has been discovered beneath a small woman portrait painted in 1958, La toile de Pénélope. Indeed, the underlying ... [more ▼]

One of the two missing canvases from L’évidence éternelle of 1954, the one of the feet, has been discovered beneath a small woman portrait painted in 1958, La toile de Pénélope. Indeed, the underlying woman’s feet revealed through the IRR and XRR images leave little doubt about the identity of the hidden composition. All the more so as the canvas dimensions perfectly match with the format ascribed to the feet part in the diagram Magritte made of the 1954 variant of L’évidence éternelle. This paper presents the main results of the material study conducted on La toile de Pénélope by means of non-invasive and complementary imaging and analytical techniques. Furthermore, it proposes a virtual colorized reconstruction of the hidden picture, built on the basis of the XRR and IRR images, the elemental information provided by the MA-XRF analysis, the Raman results and the microscope examination of the painting surface. [less ▲]

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See detail12 MeV Proton Activation Analysis combined to IBA techniques for compositional studies of various archeological artefacts from Roman and Merovingian sites (Ostia Antica, Artena, Nevers)
Chene, Grégoire ULiege; Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Dienst, Simon ULiege et al

Poster (2019, September 18)

A combination of 3MeV proton PIXE-PIGE, MA-XRF and 10-15 MeV proton activation analysis has been recently applied on the external beam line of the cyclotron of IPNAS/CEA laboratory from the University of ... [more ▼]

A combination of 3MeV proton PIXE-PIGE, MA-XRF and 10-15 MeV proton activation analysis has been recently applied on the external beam line of the cyclotron of IPNAS/CEA laboratory from the University of Liège, and thus, to a wide variety of archaeological specimens (glass, pottery, mortars and pigments) all provided by on-going studies and excavations of housing materials, wall decorations, and vessels led on two remarkable Roman sites and one Medieval site: First, from an important agricultural complex excavated on an artificial terrace from a republican town, Artena, located, 40 km South-East from Rome, near the Via Latina and the Campania; second, from the Domus dei bucrani, a house dating from the end of the Republican era discovered on the site of the Schola of the Trajan at Ostia Antica and third, from the sixth-century glass mosaic from Saint Etienne church in Nevers, France. The aim of the present work is to explore and report the specific analytical interests of Charge Particle Activation Analysis implemented with protons ranging from 10 to 15 MeV, as a non-invasive analytical technique for the detection of elements with Z = 11–40 and beyond, and to address its suitability to solve questions raised by archaeologists. We present in this paper the preliminary results obtained following methodologies reported in recent pioneering and more recent works and emphasize on the achieved sensitivities (Limits of Detections) for elements as Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, As, Sr, Y, Zr and Sb ranging from percentage to parts per million (ppm) levels. [less ▲]

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See detailPIXE-PIGE and Proton Activation Analysis of Analysis of Roman archeological artefacts
Strivay, David ULiege; Chene, Grégoire ULiege; Dienst, Simon ULiege et al

Poster (2019, June 11)

A combination of 3MeV proton PIXE-PIGE, MA-XRF and 10-15 MeV proton activation analysis has been recently applied on the external beam line of the cyclotron of IPNAS/CEA laboratory from the University of ... [more ▼]

A combination of 3MeV proton PIXE-PIGE, MA-XRF and 10-15 MeV proton activation analysis has been recently applied on the external beam line of the cyclotron of IPNAS/CEA laboratory from the University of Liège, and thus, to a wide variety of archaeological specimens (glass, pottery (terra sigillata), mortars and pigments) all provided by on-going studies and excavations of housing materials, wall decorations, and vessels led on two remarkable Roman sites: First, from an important agricultural complex excavated on an artificial terrace from a republican town, Artena, located, 40 km South-East from Rome, near the Via Latina and the Campania and second, from the Domus dei bucrani, a house dating from the end of the Republican era discovered on the site of the Schola of the Trajan in Ostia. The aim of the present work is to explore and report the specific analytical interests of Charge Particle Activation Analysis implemented with protons ranging from 10 to 15 MeV, as a non-invasive analytical technique for the detection of elements with Z = 11-40 and beyond, and to address its suitability to solve questions raised by archaeologists. We present in this paper the preliminary results obtained following methodologies reported in recent pioneering and more recent works1-4 and emphasize on the achieved sensitivities (Limits of Detections) for elements as Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, As, Sr, Y, Zr and Sb ranging from percentage to parts per million (ppm) levels. [less ▲]

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See detailInsight in René Magritte's reused paintings
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Vandepitte, Francisca; Herens, Elodie ULiege et al

Conference (2019, May 08)

The research project, Magritte on practice, consists of the systematic study of the world's largest collection of works painted by the Belgian surrealist (1898-1967), housed at the Magritte Museum in ... [more ▼]

The research project, Magritte on practice, consists of the systematic study of the world's largest collection of works painted by the Belgian surrealist (1898-1967), housed at the Magritte Museum in Brussels, through a large panel of non-invasive scientific imaging and analytical techniques (Raman, FTIR, MA-XRF, hyperspectral, IRR, XRR and digital microscopy) [1]. The technical and material study conducted on a corpus of works covering the entire career of the artist (60 oil paintings realised between 1921 and 1967), appeared highly informative about the making process of Magritte’s pictures but also lead to the discovery of six overpainted compositions, among which the last missing part of La pose enchantée, a 1927 large-scale painting transformed into four separate new pictures that are currently dispersed across the world [2]. The present study proposes an overview of the freshly discovered paintings and explores how the painter reused specific elements from the sacrificed compositions for creating the new ones. References [1] C. Defeyt and F. Vandepitte, (in preparation). René Magritte: The artist’s materials. (Los Angeles, CA: Getty Publications) [2] C. Defeyt, E. Herens, F. Leen, F. Vandepitte and D. Strivay, Heritage Sci., 6 (2018) [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterisation and study of degradation of daylight and UV-light fluorescent pigments in modern art through non-invasive methods
Rigoreau, Manon ULiege; Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Strivay, David ULiege

Poster (2019, May)

Artists started to experiment fluorescent colours shortly after the discovery of daylight pigments by the Switzer brothers in the 1940s. It is a new way of expression for painters from the 20th century ... [more ▼]

Artists started to experiment fluorescent colours shortly after the discovery of daylight pigments by the Switzer brothers in the 1940s. It is a new way of expression for painters from the 20th century such as Andy Warhol, Martial Raysse, Keith Haring and Pierre Alechinsky. More recently, artists from the 21st century use the daylight colours through new technics like aerosol spray paint [1]. It is well known that some fluorescent pigments are unstable. Indeed, phenomena of discolourations and fluorescence losses are often observed. The companies that provide this type of pigments kept secret the composition of their paints and aerosols. Moreover, knowledge of materials used by artists is so important for the history of the art of techniques but also for conservation issues. The aim of the study is to characterise and found identification markers from distinct fluorescent colours, from different manufacturers, using non-invasive methods namely Raman [2] and FT-IR spectroscopy, macro-XRF, X-ray diffraction and hyperspectral imaging. In a second step, after an artificial aging, the goal will be to observe how each pigment evolve to discern which are the most subject to the fading phenomenon. The final step of this study is to find the most optimal analytic strategy for the analysis of works of art, preserved at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, to identify pigments that are more susceptible to fade and enforce preventive conservation for this one. References [1] A. Colombini and C. Valageas, Technè, 38 (2013) 34-38 [2] W. Fremout, in: Conference paper from IRUG 11. (Boston, MA) (2014) [less ▲]

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See detailMulti-analytical study of mural paintings from a Republican house from 1st BC in Ostia
Herens, Elodie ULiege; Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Motta, Lucie ULiege et al

Poster (2019, May)

Ostia Antica, the ancient port of Rome, is overflowing with many remains, proofs of the greatness and the important activity of this area. Among them, the Schola del Traiano, along the Decumanus Maximus ... [more ▼]

Ostia Antica, the ancient port of Rome, is overflowing with many remains, proofs of the greatness and the important activity of this area. Among them, the Schola del Traiano, along the Decumanus Maximus in the neighbourhood of Porta Marina , presents a complex history. In addition to the excavation by archaeologists of three successive buildings on this parcel, the discovery of an uncommon dwarfs frieze (dating from 40 - 30 BC) brought attention. Usually depicted in decadent or ridiculous scenes, dwarfs are pictured here in scenes of daily life. This frieze is surrounded by other very elaborated friezes and tiles: Green and red masks friezes, dentils, the dwarfs frieze, a vegetal frieze, coloured tiles, a fruits frieze, and big red tiles surrounded by coloured lines combine to form a colourful room decoration. To deepen our understanding of this particular decor, various complementary analytical techniques were used: Raman spectroscopy, MA-XRF, hyperspectral imaging and digital microscopy. Besides the identification of the pigments used for each colour (Egyptian blue, cinnabar, iron oxide, chalk, ...), these techniques also allow to compare the different decoration parts together and to highlight common points and differences between them, in term of chemical composition but also concerning the decor elaboration and the successive steps in the painting implementation. [less ▲]

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See detailAnalysis of archeological artefacts from Ostia and Arena Roman sites by PIXE-PIGE and Proton Activation Analysis
Strivay, David ULiege; Chene, Grégoire ULiege; Dienst, Simon ULiege et al

Conference (2019, March)

A combination of 3MeV proton PIXE-PIGE, MA-XRF and 10-15 MeV proton activation analysis has been recently applied on the external beam line of the cyclotron of IPNAS/CEA laboratory from the University of ... [more ▼]

A combination of 3MeV proton PIXE-PIGE, MA-XRF and 10-15 MeV proton activation analysis has been recently applied on the external beam line of the cyclotron of IPNAS/CEA laboratory from the University of Li`ege, and thus, to a wide variety of archaeological specimens (glass, pottery (terra sigillata), mortars and pigments) all provided by on-going studies and excavations of housing materials, wall decorations, and vessels led on two remarkable Roman sites: First, from an important agricultural complex excavated on an artificial terrace from a republican town, Artena, located, 40 km South-East from Rome, near the Via Latina and the Campania and second, from the Domus dei bucrani, a house dating from the end of the Republican era discovered on the site of the Schola of the Trajan in Ostia. The aim of the present work is to explore and report the specific analytical interests of Charge Particle Activation Analysis implemented with protons ranging from 10 to 15 MeV, as a non-invasive analytical technique for the detection of elements with Z = 11-40 and beyond, and to address its suitability to solve questions raised by archaeologists. We present in this paper the preliminary results obtained following methodologies reported in recent pioneering and more recent works [1-4] and emphasize on the achieved sensitivities (Limits of Detections) for elements as Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, As, Sr, Y, Zr and Sb ranging from percentage to parts per million (ppm) levels. [less ▲]

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See detailSam Francis: pigments and binders
Mazurek, Joy; Defeyt, Catherine ULiege

in Burchett-Lere, Debra; Zebala, Aneta (Eds.) The Artist's Materials: Sam Francis (2019)

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See detailSam Francis: summary of data from thirty-seven paintings
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Mazurek, Joy; Lee, Lynn et al

in Burchett-Lere, Debra; Zebala, Aneta (Eds.) The Artist's Materials: Sam Francis (2019)

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See detailUne copie de L’Origine du monde par René Magritte ?
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Strivay, David ULiege

in CeROArt: Conservation, Exposition, Restauration d'Objets d'Art (2019), 11

Pendant plus de 20 ans, la copie de L’origine du monde de Courbet, que Joseph-Marie Lo Duca attribuait à René Magritte, a dupé historiens et amateurs. Bien que la supercherie ait été démasquée, la date de ... [more ▼]

Pendant plus de 20 ans, la copie de L’origine du monde de Courbet, que Joseph-Marie Lo Duca attribuait à René Magritte, a dupé historiens et amateurs. Bien que la supercherie ait été démasquée, la date de réalisation, le contexte de réalisation et l’auteur de cette copie sont restés inconnus. L’étude de l’œuvre par le biais de méthodes d’imagerie et d’analyse scientifique paraissait un moyen de fournir des éléments de réponse à ces questions. Les résultats obtenus dans le cadre de cette étude ont en effet permis de déterminer que la présente copie ne pouvait pas être antérieure à 1945. Par ailleurs, différents indices matériels indiquent qu’elle a vraisemblablement été réalisée non pas d’après le tableau de Courbet, mais d’après une reproduction en noir et blanc de celui-ci. [less ▲]

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See detailInvestigation of speckle syndrome affecting late 1920s oil paintings by René Magritte
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Vandepitte, Francisca; Mazurek, Joy et al

in van den Berg, KJ; Bonaduce, I; Burnstock, A (Eds.) et al Conservation of Modern Oil Paintings (2019)

Six early oil paintings by Magritte from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are affected by networks of dark speckle-like stains, referred here as speckle syndrome. A systematic approach appeared ... [more ▼]

Six early oil paintings by Magritte from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are affected by networks of dark speckle-like stains, referred here as speckle syndrome. A systematic approach appeared to be a useful way to elucidate the mechanism(s) and the compound(s) responsible for the speckle appearance. Indeed, a comparative study of the visible symptoms, the painting materials and past environmental conditions, facilitated the discovery of the common denominators shared by speckled artworks and, consequently supporting conclusions about the origins of related degradation process . [less ▲]

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See detailThis is not Magritte
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Brachot, Isy; Strivay, David ULiege

Poster (2018, July)

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See detailNon-invasive analysis of mural paintings from a Republican house from 1st B.C. in Ostia
Herens, Elodie ULiege; Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Morard, Thomas ULiege et al

Conference (2018, May 23)

This paper is a comprehensive analytical study of the murals belonging to an ancient Roman house through the characterization of materials. The project focuses on the wall paintings of the Domus dei ... [more ▼]

This paper is a comprehensive analytical study of the murals belonging to an ancient Roman house through the characterization of materials. The project focuses on the wall paintings of the Domus dei bucranes, a house of the end of the Republican era discovered on the site of the Schola of Trajan in Ostia. This Domus has undergone several phases of development in the 1st century BC before being destroyed around 20 BC. A new house was immediately rebuilt after a major change from the ground, which allowed exceptional preservation of the decoration system. The results complement our knowledge of Roman painting techniques during the 1st century BC and also provide a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to the problem of conservation of wall paintings. These two related objectives have been studied using non-destructive testing methods (MA-XRF, FTIR and Raman spectroscopy). The analyzes have been performed in situ using our mobile systems. The different set-ups had to be modified in order to be able to work on horizontal surfaces, specially our XRF scanner. The study of the pictorial layers address various issues in the field of archaeology: what technique has been implemented? Does the same technique was used in both phases of the development of Domus? Do they correspond to the techniques described by ancient writers? These responses are compared to those observed in other sets of murals dating from the 1st century BC. [less ▲]

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See detailMAGRITTE ON PRACTICE: FINDING LOST COMPOSITIONS BY NON-INVASIVE TECHNIQUES
Strivay, David ULiege; Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Vandepitte, Francisca et al

Conference (2018, May)

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See detailComparative study of the speckles syndrome affecting four Magritte’s oil paintings from 1927
Defeyt, Catherine ULiege; Herens, Elodie ULiege; Leen, Frederik et al

Poster (2018, May)

In the frame of the on-going research project Magritte on practice, the sixty-three paintings from the Magritte Museum collection (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium) are systematically investigated ... [more ▼]

In the frame of the on-going research project Magritte on practice, the sixty-three paintings from the Magritte Museum collection (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium) are systematically investigated through complementary analytical and imaging methods. On this occasion, the presence of dark round stains looking like speckles, has been noticed on the paint surface of four 1927 oil paintings, namely La voleuse, Le démon de la perversité, L’homme du large and Le joueur secret. When observed under digital microscope, those appear as dark micro-cracks forming concentric cobweb-like networks, with dark accretions and with or without whitish protrusions. The proliferation of such dark stains appears as a typical visual damage, occurring in Magritte oil paintings dating from 1927. Indeed, further 1927 Magritte’s oils on canvas, for instance, L’assassin menacé from the MoMA (New York) and Le sens de la nuit from The Menil Collection (Houston), exhibit the same visually disturbing alterations, referred here as speckles syndrome. Duffy et al. [1] have pointed out the probable linkage between the visual damages observed on L’assassin menace, and the aggregates of metal soaps formed at the painting surface. In the present study, La voleuse, Le démon de la perversité, L’homme du large and Le joueur secret, have been investigated in parallel and in the same experimental conditions, by means of non-invasive imaging and analytical methods, including digital microscopy, UV and Vis high-resolution imagery, FTIR, RS, pXRF and MA-XRF techniques. The objective of this research was to collect technical and compositional information, sufficiently abundant and significant, to formulate substantiated conclusions about the painting materials and the mechanisms involved in the speckles syndrome. The comparison of the acquired analytical data and images allowed highlighting several common denominators between the four damaged paintings. For example, the speckled surfaces always contains Ca- and P-based black pigment (bone or ivory black), unidentified chlorinated compound(s) and lead white and/or zinc white. Interestingly, the FTIR spectra recorded from speckled areas and from unaffected surfaces tend to evidence the presence of metal soaps in both cases. [less ▲]

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