Painting Forensics--Investigating Northern Renaissance Art

July 17, 2008

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Hans Memling - Virgin and Child, 1485/90; Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection.

Molly Faries, an expert in the field of technical investigation of paintings, presents a lecture that documents the innovative research used to study a selection of the Art Institute's Old Master paintings now on view in the exhibition New Light on Old Masters and its related catalogue, Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600.

This lecture highlights the technical methods of investigation that figure in both the catalogue and exhibition. The lecture draws on the speaker's expertise in the field of technical investigation and in infrared reflectography (IRR) in particular, a technique that discloses the hidden layout sketches in paintings. Many of the examples derive from what the speaker calls her "IRR expeditions"-field trips that have taken her to countless churches and museums in this country and Europe. One part of the lecture covers recent advances in infrared technology and imaging techniques. Another section deals with some of the more interesting drawing and painting procedures that have been discovered in northern European works from this period. Finally, the speaker comments on the ways the combined evidence can lead to a broader understanding of workshop practices and art production in an age of increasing commercial opportunities.

 

Recorded Thursday, July 17, 2008 at The Art Institute of Chicago-Fullerton Hall.