Camera restores historic artworks with “unprecedented clarity.”
Conservators will be able to use fluorescence to precisely identify and remove acing varnish thanks to a new technology developed by scientists. This technology will revolutionise the process of restoring historical works of art because it will enable conservators to precisely identify and remove acing varnish.
Professor Klaus Suhling said that a team in the physics department at King’s College London has used fluorescence to give the conservation process “unprecedented clarity.”
Experts will be able to tell the difference between varnish and other parts of an artwork, like paint and binders, thanks to a revolutionary camera.
Shutting stated, “The conservation of paintings is essential to protect our cultural heritage for future generations.”
The majority of paintings made prior to the late 19th century have been varnished multiple times, resulting in a dull or yellowed appearance as the varnish wears off. It may be necessary to remove that varnish in order to restore the image’s visibility; however, it may be difficult to distinguish it from the painting’s underlying paint and other components.
Utilising a method known as macroscopic fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), the King’s College team created a 25,000-pixel photon sensitive camera to capitalize on the natural fluorescence of centuries-old varnish.
The time when light from a surface enters a pixel is recorded by a stopwatch on that pixel. We can chart where varnish sits with an accuracy never before achieved by comparing the varnish’s fluorescence to these other components,” Shutting stated.
Conservators typically use UV lamps to shine light on a painting’s surface to see if there is residue. The method is based on the conservator’s expertise and involves some guesswork.
Shutting and Dr. Jakub Nedbal led the King’s College team, which collaborated on the project with the Curtailed and the University of Edinburgh.
The new method “provided more detailed information about the paint and varnish during removal tests than any other previous method, paving the way for whole painting imaging during varnish removal,” according to Curtailed professor Aviva Burn-stock.
“That would be a great advance for painting conservators if achieved.”
Because it was derived from consumer technology like smartphone cameras, Suhling stated that production of the camera would not be costly in the future. Although it is very individualised, I believe it will be relatively inexpensive in the future.
In medicine, fluorescence is usually used to study, track, and find cancerous cells. Additionally, it serves as a security feature in polymer banknotes.
Suhling stated that he frequently went to art galleries. He stated, “I was eager to use my expertise to advance conservation work.”