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Friday, June 1 • 8:30am - 9:00am
(Paintings) The Blues of Jan de Bray's Judith and Holofernes: the technical study of two blue pigments and its impact on treatment

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This paper will present the examination, analysis, and treatment of a seventeenth-century oil on panel painting in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The painting depicts Judith and Holofernes and was painted in 1659 by Jan de Bray, a Haarlem-based history and portrait painter. The painting was brought to the conservation department for examination and treatment in the summer of 2016. Although initial stages of the treatment were straightforward, the removal of many layers of discolored natural resin varnish revealed an unusual and confusing pattern of damage in the blue area of the bedspread. Extensive abrasions, some round and ring-shaped, were visible with the naked eye, and the presence of microscopic islands of whitish material suggested that either pigment discoloration or undesirable pigment-binder interactions had occurred. To more fully understand the damage and alterations, the blue area was subjected to intensive study. Non-invasive analytical and imaging techniques, in addition to micro-sample analysis, were employed, including infrared reflectography (IRR), Hirox digital microphotography, micro Reflectance Transformation Imaging (micro-RTI), cross-sectional analysis, macro X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy (MA-XRF), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM-BSE/EDS), Ultra High-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Photo Diode Array (UHPLC-PDA), and portable micro-Raman spectroscopy (pRaman) and X-Ray Diffractometry (pXRD). Two different blue pigments were identified: indigo was used in the first blue layer of the bedspread with lapis lazuli glazed on top. The whitish islands were characterized as lapis lazuli that were apparently degraded in the past. The authors propose a possible mechanism for the degradation of the lapis lazuli based on SEM-EDS data showing reduced levels of sulfur in the degraded areas. These data are then correlated with observations of the painting’s condition as well as with another recent publication of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch (Genbrugge 2016). Another significant finding includes the presence of alum in the indigo, which may explain the light blue fluorescence of the dark blue indigo paint under UV illumination. Consultation of contemporary source material provides additional context for the use of ultramarine and indigo pigments in seventeenth-century Dutch paintings. Ultimately, a more complete understanding of the materials present in the blue area and the ways in which later alterations to these pigments have affected the overall appearance of the painting informed the inpainting stage of treatment. This treatment step is discussed in light of these findings.

avatar for Gerrit Albertson

Gerrit Albertson

Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fairchild Center for Paintings Conservation
Gerrit Albertson is currently the Annette de la Renta Fellow in Paintings Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, working under the supervision of Michael Gallagher and Dorothy Mahon. A 2017 graduate from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation... Read More →

avatar for Dr. Yoshinari Abe

Dr. Yoshinari Abe

Lector, Department of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Tokyo University of Science
Dr. Yoshinari Abe is Lector of analytical and inorganic chemistry at Department of Applied Chemistry, Tokyo University of Science. He received a Ph. D. degree in chemistry from Tokyo University of Science in 2012 for studies in scientific investigation of blue colorants and pigments... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Art Proaño Gaibor

Dr. Art Proaño Gaibor

Materials Scientist - Specialist in Conservation and Restoration, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE)
Art Proaño Gaibor is a Specialist in Conservation and Restoration at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands since 2017. He has a degree from the ROC chemistry school of Amsterdam since 2008. He is specialized in the analysis of organic colorants in textiles, synthetic colorants... Read More →
avatar for Anna Krekeler

Anna Krekeler

Paintings Conservator, Rijksmuseum
Anna Krekeler was trained as a paintings conservator at the University of Fine Arts in Dresden, Germany. Since her graduation in 2007, she has been working in the Rijksmuseum’s Painting Conservation Studio. Her main research interest is in the techniques and materials of artists... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Annelies van Loon

Dr. Annelies van Loon

Paintings Research Scientist, Rijksmuseum
Annelies van Loon is a paintings research scientist both at the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis (The Hague). She received a master’s degree in chemistry, a post-doctoral diploma in the conservation of easel paintings from the Limburg Conservation... Read More →
avatar for Petria Noble

Petria Noble

Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum
As Head of Paintings Conservation at the Rijksmuseum since 2014, Petria has expanded the department, laying more emphasis on research into the materials and techniques of artists' as well as those of conservation. Originally from Australia, Petria Noble carried out her post-graduate... Read More →

Friday June 1, 2018 8:30am - 9:00am MDT
Texas Ballroom A Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Paintings
  • Specialty Tracks Paintings
  • Cost Type Included with registration
  • Abstract ID 13355
  • Authors (in order) Gerrit Albertson, Anna Krekeler, Dr. Annelies van Loon, Dr. Art Proaño Gaibor, Dr. Yoshinari Abe