New X-ray technique reveals buried image in N. C. Wyeth's painting

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Washington, August 20 (ANI): A new X-ray imaging technique has for the first time in a century revealed unprecedented details of a painting hidden beneath another painting by famed American illustrator Newell Convers Wyeth, who is regarded as the greatest American illustrator of the 20th century.

While making a presentation at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on Wednesday, Dr. Jennifer Mass said that the non-destructive look-beneath-the-surface method could reveal hidden images in hundreds of Old Master paintings, and other prized works of art.

In the study paper, the researcher noted that many great artists re-used canvases or covered paintings with other paintings, in order to save money on materials or to let the colours and shapes of a prior composition influence the next one.

Art historians believe that several of Wyeth's most valued illustrations have been lost from view in that way, and one of them, depicting a dramatic fist fight, was published in a 1919 Everybody's Magazine article titled 'The Mildest Mannered Man'.

X-ray techniques previously used by other scientists suggested that Wyeth had covered the fight scene with another painting called 'Family Portrait', but they had not shown the the true image except in black and white reproductions.

The new instrument, called a confocal X-ray fluorescence microscope, was developed at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) national X-ray facility.

The instrument reveals minute details in hidden paintings without removing paint samples. It shoots X-ray beams into a painting and then collects fluorescent X-ray "signals" given off by the chemicals in the various paint layers.

Scientists can link each signal to specific paint pigments.

In addition to revealing the original image, the method is providing new information on Wyeth's materials and methods.

The same technique may ultimately reveal hidden images in paintings by other famed artists, the researchers say. (ANI)

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