Conservators used new X-ray imaging technology to find the…

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(MENAFN – USA Art News)

New advanced imaging technology makes it easier to see what lies beneath, at least in terms of art history.

As the Rijksmuseum’s celebration of the 350th anniversary of Johannes Vermeer’s birth approaches, the museum has unveiled a new, previously unknown underlay of the Dutch master beneath his most famous work: .

The latest imaging technology revealed to experts two previously unknown objects in the underlay of the image: a jug stand and a fire basket that the artist painted from his final version of the work.

Short-wavelength infrared reflectance image (false color) by Johannes Vermeer.

To carry out the study, the Rijksmuseum enlisted an interdisciplinary team of curators and scientists to analyze a number of Vermeer paintings using advanced Macro-XRF and RIS scanning technologies.

The technique – essentially an X-ray that allows researchers to see the first strokes on a canvas that may have been covered in successive layers – allowed them to locate the underlay.

The pitcher holder, according to a Rijksmuseum press release, would have been a popular feature in many 17th-century Dutch kitchens.

But with multiple nobs, which would have allowed him to hold multiple ceramic jugs by their handles, it would have added a level of clutter that Vermeer thought twice and painted over.

Short-wavelength infrared reflectance image (false color) by Johannes Vermeer.

The fire basket appears to be woven from willow stems and is also known as , a type of basket found in an inventory from Vermeer’s own estate, according to the Rijksmuseum.

The findings bring “viewers ever closer to this most mysterious and beloved artist,” Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits said in a statement.

Vermeer’s next exhibition at the museum, scheduled for 2023, is expected to be the largest assemblage of his works ever staged, including at least 27 of the 35 known Vermeers, many of which have been borrowed from the world’s most prestigious museums.

The Rijksmuseum itself has a world-class collection of Northern Renaissance masterpieces, including four works by Vermeer, who worked in the mid-17th century.

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