Friday, June 1 • 11:00am - 11:30am
(Book and Paper) John Singer Sargent: New insights into his watercolor materials and techniques

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As imaging technology continues to be developed in the service of material identification and mapping, long-standing assumptions about artists’ media and processes can finally be tested. Analytical methods such as GC-MS, SERS, XRF mapping, and hyperspectral imaging represent opportunities to breath exciting new life into exhibitions of works by artists who have become perennial favorites. John Singer Sargent is one such artist on whom numerous tomes have been written and about whom it may seem there is nothing more to say. This talk will contradict that notion by presenting new insights into Sargent’s materials based on the coordination of close visual observation, scholarship, and material analysis using established scientific technqiues as well as techniques that have only recently become available such as hyperspectral imaging and macro-XRF mapping. The present exhibition John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age afforded the opportunity to conduct a technical study of eleven of Sargent’s watercolors at the Art Institute of Chicago. Though the sample set is small for such a prolific artist, the works span nearly forty years of the artist’s watercolor production. He sustained passion for the medium throughout his life and, as analysis revealed, he sometimes experimented by altering his media. These discoveries were made possible through collaboration between curators, conservators, and scientists who are innovators in fields ranging from computer science to spectroscopy. They stress the importance of establishing a scientific basis for claims made about artists’ processes, even if they originate from primary and secondary sources. This information adds to the extensive body of technical work that has already been published on the largest American collections of Sargent’s watercolors, namely those at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Worcester Museum.

avatar for Francesca Casadio

Francesca Casadio

Andrew W. Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist and Co-director NU-ACCESS, The Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University
Francesca Casadio joined the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003 to establish and direct a state of the art conservation science laboratory. In January 2018, she will assume the post of Executive Director of Conservation and Science in the same institution. Dr. Casadio has also established... Read More →

avatar for Agnese Babini

Agnese Babini

Visiting Graduate Student, NU-ACCESS, Northwestern University
Agnese Babini is a graduate student in Science for Conservation from the University of Bologna. She received her B.S in Technologies for Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the University of Bologna, with a thesis on the proposal of analytical protocols for the authentication... Read More →
avatar for Veronica Biolcati

Veronica Biolcati

intern, Technical Studies Research Laboratory, Getty Conservation Institute
Veronica Biolcati is an intern at the Technical Studies Research Laboratory of the Getty Conservation Institute. Her research interests include the investigation of the materials and techniques used for painting, the application of new methods and technologies for the scientific study... Read More →
avatar for Mary Broadway

Mary Broadway

Associate Paper Conservator, Art Institute of Chicago
Mary Broadway is the Associate paper conservator at the Art Institute of Chicago Additional Co-authors include: Mary Broadway, Veronica Biolcati, Ken Sutherland, Francesca Casadio, Emeline Pouyet, Agnese Babini, Gianluca Pastorelli, Danielle Duggins, Marc Walton

Danielle Duggins

Graduate Student, Materials Science and Engineering, NU-ACCESS, Northwestern University
Danielle is a PhD student in Materials Science & Engineering at Northwestern and joined NU-ACCESS in August of 2017. Her research is focused on coupling optical coherence tomography and hyperspectral measurements for the identification of paint pigments. She received her BS in Physics... Read More →
avatar for Gianluca Pastorelli

Gianluca Pastorelli

Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern/ARTIC Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
avatar for Emeline Pouyet

Emeline Pouyet

Post doctoral fellow, Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago
Emeline Pouyet is a post-doctoral fellow at the NU-ACCESS center (Chicago, U.S.A). She received her M.S. degree in Archaeometry in 2010 and completed her Ph.D. studies in 2014 at the ID21 beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France). Her activities focused... Read More →

Ken Sutherland

Conservation Scientist, Art Institute of Chicago
Ken Sutherland is a scientist in the Department of Conservation and Science at the Art Institute of Chicago. He held previous positions as scientist in the Conservation Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Research Fellow in the Scientific Research Department of the National... Read More →
avatar for Marc Sebastian Walton

Marc Sebastian Walton

Co-Director, Research Professor, Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
Marc Walton joined the Northwestern University / Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts in 2013 as its inaugural Senior Scientist and as a Research Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. In January of 2018, he was appointed... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 11:00am - 11:30am
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston
  • Specialty Tracks Book and Paper
  • Cost Type Included with registration
  • Abstract ID 13827
  • Authors (in order) Mary Broadway, Veronica Biolcati, Ken Sutherland, Francesca Casadio, Emeline Pouyet, Agnese Babini, Gianluca Pastorelli, Danielle Duggins, Marc Walton

Attendees (122)