Interpreting technical evidence from paintings by Édouard Manet in The Courtauld Gallery

Silvia Rita Amato, Aviva Burnstock, Maureen Cross, Koen Janssens, Francesca Rosi, Cartechini Laura, Raffaella Fontana, Marco Paolantoni, Chiara Grazia, Aldo Romani, Aurelie Tournié, Anne Michelin, Christine Andraud, Joris Dik

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Paintings by Édouard Manet from the Courtauld Gallery including Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863-68), Marguerite de Conflans en Toilette de Bal (1870-1880), Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil (1874), and A Bar at the Folies–Bergère (1882) have been investigated for the first time using a combination of non-invasive in situ analytical methods. These included multispectral and hyperspectral VIS-NIR imaging, macro X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF), portable reflectance and fluorescence UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy, portable Raman spectroscopy, and portable reflection FTIR, provided by collaboration with the University of Delft, University of Antwerp and the European mobile platform MOLAB. The study also included analysis of paint samples using light microscopy and SEM-EDX. The aims of the study were to investigate the painting techniques and materials used for this group of works, and to critically evaluate the evidence derived from the application of non-invasive site-specific analyses and imaging techniques, highlighting their advantages and limitations in this context. The analytical methods used provided evidence for the identification of a range of inorganic pigments and classes of organic materials used for the works, and it was possible to image underlying elements in the compositions using elemental mapping and NIR imaging that were not visible using traditional methods of technical study including X-radiography and IRR in a more limited range. The study highlighted questions in relation to the interpretation of elemental distribution maps and spectral images that did not correspond to the reworking visible in X-radiographs. This question is exemplified in the study of the iconic A Bar at the Folies–Bergère that Manet reworked during painting, making numerous changes directly on the canvas that were not clearly visualised with any of the techniques used. Contrastingly elements of the development of the composition of the Courtauld’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe were revealed using MA-XRF that provided new evidence to consider its relationship to other versions of the composition. This paper will describe the preliminary results and discuss some of the challenges in interpretation of the data. Acknowledgment The EU project IPERIONCH Integrated Platform for the European Research Infrastructure on Cultural Heritage (GA n. 654028, is acknowledged for transnational access to portable non invasive instruments (multi/hyperspectral VIS-NIR imaging, MA-XRF, reflectance and fluorescence UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and reflection FTIR) belonging to the MOLAB platform.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages2
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventICXOM24: 24th International Congress on X-ray Optics and Microanalysis - Trieste, Italy
    Duration: 25 Sep 201729 Sep 2017


    ConferenceICXOM24: 24th International Congress on X-ray Optics and Microanalysis


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