PAinT - Paint Alterations in Time

Ghent Altarpiece

Jan and/or Hubert van Eyck, 1435


oil(?) on oak panel - St Bavo Cathedral Ghent

The Ghent Altarpiece has a long, complex, well documented restoration history. It is currently the subject of extensive examination in view of its pending conservation (2012-2016).

The painting shows adhesion problems, delamination has taken place within and between paint layers; also severe blanching has been observed, particularly in the dark background areas of some of the side panels. In the 1950s, the paint has been impregnated and consolidated with mixtures of wax, colophony and spike oil; multiple layers of a ketone resin final varnish have been applied, which have degraded (brittle and yellow). 

Focus of the research will be to investigate the relation between past conservation procedures on the molecular structure and appearance of the original paint.

Collaboration with the S4A ‘Van Eyck Studies’ is anticipated.

20 September 2012