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Thermal quasi-reflectography: a new imaging tool in art conservation

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In the artwork conservation field, non contact diagnostic and imaging methods are widely used and most welcomed. In this work a new imaging tool, called Thermal Quasi-Reflectography (TQR), is proposed and demonstrated. It is based on the recording, by suitable procedures, of reflected infrared radiation in the MWIR band (3-5 μm). The technique, simple to perform, can provide very interesting results in the analysis of the painting surfaces. TQR was demonstrated in situ on two famous artworks: the Zavattari’s frescos in the Chapel of Theodelinda (Italy) and the masterpiece by Piero della Francesca “The Resurrection” (Italy).

©2012 Optical Society of America

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Figures (7)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1 The Planck curve for a blackbody at 293K (roughly room temperature), with the areas to be integrated for MWIR and LWIR sensors shaded.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2 A sketch of the experimental setup, detailing also the typical layered structure of a wall painting.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3 Part of the fresco by the Zavattaris in the Theodelinda’s Chapel. The artworks, executed between 1440 and 1446 are extremely rich and complex, featuring different fresco techniques, gold and silver decorations and reliefs. Color photography (a), and imaging in the NIR (b), compared to the TQR image (c).
Fig. 4
Fig. 4 “The Resurrection” by Piero della Francesca, circa 1460 (detail): color photography.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5 “The Resurrection” by Piero della Francesca (detail): NIR image (left) and TQR image (right). A Original area; B and C painted integration; D Restoration plaster; E Green Earth pigment; F and G pigments with similar behavior in the visible and different reflectivity in MWIR.
Fig. 6
Fig. 6 “The Resurrection” by Piero della Francesca (detail): NIR image (left) and TQR image (right). A retouches; B inhomogeneities on the shield; C Different execution techniques on the soldier’s sword, not detected in NIR; D better differentiation of the background in MWIR; E different reflectance NIR MWIR.
Fig. 7
Fig. 7 A fresco model, copied from Ghirlandaio, realized around 1930 by the restorer Benini. Color photography (a); CMOS NIR photography (0.9 – 1.1 μm) (b); IR scanner at 1.82 μm (c) and TQR image (mosaic of two views) (d).


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