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Proceedings Paper

Visible and infrared reflectance imaging spectroscopy of paintings: pigment mapping and improved infrared reflectography
Author(s): John K. Delaney; Jason G. Zeibel; Mathieu Thoury; Roy Littleton; Kathryn M. Morales; Michael Palmer; E. René de la Rie
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Paper Abstract

Reflectance imaging spectroscopy, the collection of images in narrow spectral bands, has been developed for remote sensing of the Earth. In this paper we present findings on the use of imaging spectroscopy to identify and map artist pigments as well as to improve the visualization of preparatory sketches. Two novel hyperspectral cameras, one operating from the visible to near-infrared (VNIR) and the other in the shortwave infrared (SWIR), have been used to collect diffuse reflectance spectral image cubes on a variety of paintings. The resulting image cubes (VNIR 417 to 973 nm, 240 bands, and SWIR 970 to 1650 nm, 85 bands) were calibrated to reflectance and the resulting spectra compared with results from a fiber optics reflectance spectrometer (350 to 2500 nm). The results show good agreement between the spectra acquired with the hyperspectral cameras and those from the fiber reflectance spectrometer. For example, the primary blue pigments and their distribution in Picasso's Harlequin Musician (1924) are identified from the reflectance spectra and agree with results from X-ray fluorescence data and dispersed sample analysis. False color infrared reflectograms, obtained from the SWIR hyperspectral images, of extensively reworked paintings such as Picasso's The Tragedy (1903) are found to give improved visualization of changes made by the artist. These results show that including the NIR and SWIR spectral regions along with the visible provides for a more robust identification and mapping of artist pigments than using visible imaging spectroscopy alone.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 July 2009
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 7391, O3A: Optics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology II, 739103 (7 July 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.827493
Show Author Affiliations
John K. Delaney, National Gallery of Art (United States)
Jason G. Zeibel, U.S. Army Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate (United States)
Mathieu Thoury, National Gallery of Art (United States)
Roy Littleton, U.S. Army Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate (United States)
Kathryn M. Morales, National Gallery of Art (United States)
Michael Palmer, National Gallery of Art (United States)
E. René de la Rie, National Gallery of Art (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7391:
O3A: Optics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology II
Luca Pezzati; Renzo Salimbeni, Editor(s)

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