Darmstadt Materials Scientists Investigate in the Art World

Collaboration between the Materials Analysis division and the Städel Museum Frankfurt

2023/11/08 by

In a fascinating project that merges art and science, materials scientists from TU Darmstadt have delved into the secrets concealed within the world of 17th-century paintings.

The team investigated two versions of the painting “Still Life with Pike's Head”. One version belongs to the Städel Museum's Old Masters collection and can clearly be attributed to the painter Georg Flegel (1566–1638). However, the other privately-owned version was of disputed attribution. By employing macro-x-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) scanning and advanced data treatment on the datasets from the paintings, the scientists were able to solve the riddle about the origin and value of the second version of the artwork.

The study opens-up new avenues for the investigation of historical paintings with a disputed attribution, as it is expected that the approach presented could be adapted to the palette of a specific painter for chronology and/or attribution issues.

Scientific details of the study are presented in an Open Access article in X-ray Spectrometry. It is accessible online via the following link: https://doi.org/10.1002/xrs.3398.