Image of the week

Wrestling under an X-ray beam

A beam of particles helps authenticate an early Vincent van Gogh painting

| 22 March 2012

DESY’s synchrotron radiation source DORIS has helped settle a decades-old question of whether van Gogh painted the 1886 Still life with meadow flowers. Using macro scanning X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, scientists were able to analyse the canvas’s layers of paint with greater detail than had been possible previously.

Earlier X-ray analyses had shown that a painter – suspected to be van Gogh – had painted a scene of two wrestlers on the canvas before painting the flower still life over it several months later. DESY’s work revealed even more, in particular, the color palette the painter used for the two wrestlers and their relative state of dress. Both attributes helped authenticate the work as a van Gogh.

A beam of particles (figuratively) painted a picture of greater detail.

Read the DESY press release

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