‘Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty’ Exhibition, 11 February – 4 June 2017
TSR were very excited to undertake infrared examination of the Holburne Museum’s ‘Wedding Dance in the Open Air’. In recent times, much study has been undertaken on paintings based on the compositions of Pieter Bruegel the Elder to try to distinguish his work from that of his sons, Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder, their studios and later pastiches based on these incredibly popular motifs. The highly characteristic underdrawing revealed in the infrared reflectogram confirmed the Museum’s attribution to Pieter Brueghel the Younger. This newly discovered masterpiece adds to the Holburne Museum’s outstanding collection of Bruegelian art, which includes ‘Robbing the Bird’s Nest’ and ‘Visit to a Farmhouse’, making it the primary collection of Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s work in the UK.
A book to accompany the exhibition Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty, which includes reflectograms by TSR, is written by Dr. Amy Orrock and published by Philip Wilson, and is now available to purchase.
Links in the Press
Today Programme, Radio 4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04fg153
The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/nov/06/brueghel-family-art-show-holburne-wedding-dancers-centre-stage
The Art Newspaper http://theartnewspaper.com/news/newly-discovered-breughel-to-go-on-show-in-first-uk-exhibition-on-the-dynasty-of-painters/
Underdrawing on Rubens’ Cain Slaying Abel – A Case Study Highlighting the Different Penetration of Infrared Cameras
‘It’s widely understood that if we want to find underdrawings the infrared part of the spectrum is the place to go. But not all infrared detecting devices will reveal the same things. To help demystify the difference between infrared photography and infrared reflectography, Kate Stonor and Clare Richardson of Tager Stonor Richardson describe the discovery of some fascinating underdrawings in a Rubens painting.’ The Picture Restorer, Issue 43, Autumn 2013, pp17-19. http://www.thepicturerestorer.co.uk/
The article discusses some of the recent developments in the infrared examination of works of art and compares the relative penetration of digital photography and reflectography with the OSIRIS camera, used by Tager Stonor Richardson. The difference in operation wavelength between these two techniques, photography and reflectography, was clearly illustrated by a recent technical examination of the Courtauld Gallery’s Cain Slaying Abel (1608-09). Though a relatively early work, Rubens’ virtuoso handling of the paint led us to assume that no traditional underdrawing had been used. This was supported by the first infrared image captured using an adapted digital camera. However, something very unexpected was revealed by the infrared image captured using the OSIRIS system: there was a distinct, carbon-based underdrawing beneath the trees at the left. The foliage in this area uses azurite pigment mixed with lead tin yellow, some lead white and earths to create the green tones. Azurite and malachite pigments are relatively absorbing of infrared and therefore much more difficult to penetrate. In order to ‘see through’ these paint layers it was necessary to go further into the infrared region, beyond 1µm. This has some significant implications for the authorship of this part of the composition. The article describes the documentary evidence for Rubens’ use of studio assistants and specialists, including high status artists such as Frans Synders, and hypothesises that the underdrawing in the foliage might indicate the very early use of a landscape specialist – something that would have been missed if the painting had only been examined with infrared photography!
For an overall IRR image of the painting please go to our gallery: http://www.tsrimaging.com/gallery-15/
Digital IR photograph (left) taken with Nikon Coolpix E995 compared with IR Reflectogram (right) made with the OSIRIS camera (copyright TSR/OPUS Instruments). Both images of P.1978.PG.353 Cain Slaying Abel by Peter Paul Rubens, © the Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Tarnya Cooper’s book, Citizen Portrait, explores portraiture of the middling classes in the Tudor and Jacobean periods. Tarnya is now Chief Curator at the National Portrait Gallery and 16th century curator, and the book illustrates many works from the NPG collections. TSR’s reflectograms of Nicholas Heath by Hans Eworth (NPG1388) and Elizabeth I (NPG200) are featured as well as a digitised x-radiograph assembly of Margaret Craythorne from the Cutlers’ Company. Continue reading “Tarnya Cooper’s ‘Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales’” »
Infrared reflectogram NPG 2094, After Hans Holbein the Younger, William Warham; ©National Portrait Gallery, London
This display of five pairs of paintings explores the production of copies and versions, drawing on research undertaken as part of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project. Using technical examination techniques including microscope examination, dendrochronology, x-radiography and infrared imaging to consider the differences between painted versions at every stage of making, the display explores the use of patterns and workshop practice. The National Portrait Gallery’s beautiful 16th century copy after Holbein’s portrait of William Warham is featured with its infrared reflectogram (right) – more details of this image can be seen in our gallery. More information about this fascinating display, and further infrared images by TSR can be found here.
More research from the MATB project has been made available in an online database which can be accessed here.
A very comprehensive study of the workshop production of John de Critz the Elder was undertaken by Edward Town for his article in the July 2012 issue of The Burlington Magazine. The varying quality of de Critz’s paintings was considered in light of the revelation that portraits continued to be produced by his workshop after the master’s eye sight had ‘fayled him’. And Town’s fascinating article puts forward the likely hypothesis that portraits might be priced according to the master’s input. These arguments are supported by the evidence gained from TSR’s infrared reflectography, which strongly suggests the repeated use of a face pattern for portraits of de Critz’s patron, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury; a method that would have facilitated the quick and efficient production of multiple portraits.
For the very first time, Waddesdon Manor brought together Chardin’s four versions of ‘Boy Building a House of Cards’ to form a small and compelling exhibition of the artist’s genre paintings. Tager Stonor Richardson were lucky enough to examine two paintings for the exhibition, which could then be compared with technical images of the other versions of the same subject, to help unravel the evolution of the artist’s revolutionary motif. Continue reading “Taking Time: Chardin’s Boy building a House of Cards” »
Rubens’ Cain Slaying Abel has returned to display at The Courtauld Gallery after conservation treatment Continue reading “Rubens’ Cain Slaying Abel” »
Professor Susie Nash’s catalogue for Sam Fogg’s exhibition of Late Medieval panel paintings held at the New York gallery of Richard L Feigen & Co. Inc. is sumptuously illustrated with technical images of the paintings under study, including infrared reflectograms by TSR. Available here from the publisher Paul Holberton.
Our infrared examination of Paul Klee’s Small Harbour Scene at the Victoria Art Gallery features in Jonathan Benington’s article for the September 2011 issue of The Burlington Magazine. The painting incorporates two paper fragments mounted on the reverse of another rejected painting on cardboard, a recycling that Benington explains was likely prompted by the scarce availability of materials in Munich in 1919. Infrared reflectography revealed the presence of two figures unrelated to the upper composition drawn beneath the paint layers. These belonged to an independent drawing made on the paper fragment before the support was assembled for the Small Harbour Scene. Benington compares the drawing to other works of the period and suggests a date of 1918-19, immediately preceding the painting.