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This May, the Garman Art Conservation department had the pleasure of being able to examine and document Portrait of a Young Man in an Arm Chair (ca. 1660) by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijnfrom the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.
Under the direction of Nancy Norwood, the Memorial Art Gallery’s Curator of European Art, and Ms. Fiona Beckett, Assistant Professor of Paintings Conservation, the painting underwent a wide range of imaging and scientific analysis to learn more about its composition and history. The main goal of this partnership was to gather more information about this painting using primarily non-invasive methods while giving department faculty and students the opportunity to study the techniques and materials of a revered artistic master. The findings of the analysis will continue to be studied in greater detail and compared to current Rembrandt research in the field.
Ms. Jiuan Jiuan Chen, Associate Professor of Conservation Imaging, and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Conservation Science, Dr. Aaron Shugar also played key roles in the documentation and analysis of the Rembrandt. Ms. Chen photographed the painting using high-resolution imaging techniques including reflected infrared and infrared luminescence, ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence and X-ray. These methods can reveal underdrawings, surface features, and key structural components of the painting. Dr. Shugar used a custom-made mount to scan the main compositional elements of the painting with a state-of-the-art X-ray fluorescence scanner to determine the elemental composition of its materials. This analytical technique can help identify pigments, minerals, and gives extensive quantitative and qualitative data. Second-year graduate students specializing in paintings conservation Ms. Melissa Amundsen, Ms. Rachel Childers, and Ms. Anna Ersenkal, as well as first-year student Ms. Nicole Schmidt, were instrumental to the week-long project, assisting with much of the analysis, documentation, handling, and crating of the painting.
Department faculty and students have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to examine this masterpiece and are grateful for the cooperation and support of the Memorial Art Gallery. We look forward to continuing this partnership and expanding our knowledge and research on their fine collection.
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