PAinT - Paint Alterations in Time

Three Marys at the Tomb

Jan and/or Hubert van Eyck, 1425-35


Oil(?) on oak panel - Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam

The Three Marys has been studied and treated for the exhibition ‘The Road to Van Eyck’ in Museum Boymans van Beuningen (starting Fall 2012).

Apart from a disturbing crack/cupping pattern, several areas have discolored: the green landscape has partly turned brown, and the blue robe is affected by ‘ultramarine sickness’ and now looks particularly flat (the original details and modeling of the folds show up in the IR and X-ray images). Several other paintings of the Van Eyck Group show similar degradation (colour loss/ surface whitening) of the ultramarine paint.

Past research has largely focused on elucidating the cause of this type of degradation, but the best approach for conservation treatment is still unanswered [Plesters 1993; Groen 1993; Del Federico et al. 2006]. Understanding the ageing mechanisms of the blue paint layer will help to better understand the original appearance of the blue dress. This knowledge can be used to define the best approach in treatment. Is the degradation process triggered by treatment? Is re-saturating the paint with varnish a safe option?

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


Published by  HIMS

20 September 2012