3D insights reveal secrets of Dutch Old Masters

Scientists from Delft Technical University (TU Delft) in the Netherlands have teamed-up with Dutch printer and copier company Océ to produce 3D-prints of Old Masters.

Reveal structure and colour in 3D

The purpose is to investigate the layers of paint and to reveal the original surface qualities and colours, as well as the techniques of production, and can reveal how the painting looked when it was fresh. The technology, which is still in development, can reveal structure and colour in 3D and the hope is that in the near future, characteristics such as gloss and transparency can also be reproduced. For the trials, three famous painting were put under the loupe: Rembrandt's 'Jewish Bride' and a Rembrandt self-portrait, as well as Van Gogh's 'Flowers in a blue vase'. TU Delft have developed a method of scanning the paintings at a molecular level with which Océ can make a 3D replica of the painting. Art historians and restorers can use the prints to experiment in a manner that they cannot currently do with the originals. The 3D prints also allow people to feel how texture is built up and what effect it has on the finished artwork. The technology was presented at the Technart conference - Analytical Spectroscopy in Art and Archaeology - in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on 23rd September.