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Proceedings Paper

An investigation of multispectral imaging for the mapping of pigments in paintings
Author(s): Yonghui Zhao; Roy S. Berns; Lawrence A. Taplin; James Coddington
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Paper Abstract

Compared with colorimetric imaging, multispectral imaging has the advantage of retrieving spectral reflectance factor of each pixel of a painting. Using this spectral information, pigment mapping is concerned with decomposing the spectrum into its constituent pigments and their relative contributions. The output of pigment mapping is a series of spatial concentration maps of the pigments comprising the painting. This approach was used to study Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night. The artist's palette was approximated using ten oil pigments, selected from a large database of pigments used in oil paintings and a priori analytical research on one of his self portraits, executed during the same time period. The pigment mapping was based on single-constant Kubelka-Munk theory. It was found that the region of blue sky where the stars were located contained, predominantly, ultramarine blue while the swirling sky and region surrounding the moon contained, predominantly, cobalt blue. Emerald green, used in light bluish-green brushstrokes surrounding the moon, was not used to create the dark green in the cypresses. A measurement of lead white from Georges Seurat's La Grande Jatte was used as the white when mapping The Starry Night. The absorption and scattering properties of this white were replaced with a modern dispersion of lead white in linseed oil and used to simulate the painting's appearance before the natural darkening and yellowing of lead white oil paint. Pigment mapping based on spectral imaging was found to be a viable and practical approach for analyzing pigment composition, providing new insight into an artist's working method, the possibility for aiding in restorative inpainting, and lighting design.

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 February 2008
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 6810, Computer Image Analysis in the Study of Art, 681007 (29 February 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.765711
Show Author Affiliations
Yonghui Zhao, Rochester Institute of Technology (United States)
Roy S. Berns, Rochester Institute of Technology (United States)
Lawrence A. Taplin, Rochester Institute of Technology (United States)
James Coddington, Museum of Modern Art (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6810:
Computer Image Analysis in the Study of Art
David G. Stork; Jim Coddington, Editor(s)

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