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News Student Blog: Mauritshuis

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​WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Julianna Ly reducing a layer of yellowed dirt from the surface. Image credit: Fahed Ibrahim.  Image courtesy of the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis.

I have been spending my third year as a paintings fellow in the Winterthur/ University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) as the Fulbright/American Friends of the Mauritshuis intern at the Mauritshuis in Den Haag, Netherlands. In addition to my treatments at the Mauritshuis, as part of the Fulbright award, I have been fortunate to attend additional classes and workshops at the conservation department of the University of Amsterdam. Located next to the Dutch Parliament buildings, the Mauritshuis houses some of the best Dutch 17th-century paintings, which include Fabritius's The Goldfinch, Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

During my time in the Netherlands, my treatments have been supervised by Sabrina Meloni, Paintings Conservator at the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, and my research by Dr. Maartje Stols-Witlox, Associate Professor Paintings Conservation at the University of Amsterdam. 

One of my major treatments was conducting a full technical study and aesthetic treatment of a newly acquired still life painting by Simon Luttichuys (1610-1661), Still Life with a Lidded Vase, Hazelnuts, and an Orange. The painting was examined and treated for it to be hung in the galleries and to be featured in the upcoming Still Life Catalogue. The technical analysis aimed to understand more about the materials and techniques used by the artist. 

​Before (left) and After (right) treatment in normal light. Image courtesy of the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis.

​Several imaging techniques were used; however, the darker blue design on the vase proved to be IRR transparent. Further investigation with MA-XRF scanning revealed that the design strongly mapped to potassium. This MA-XRF data in conjunction with cross-sections, SEM-EDS (conducted at the University of Amsterdam), and organic analyses including FTIR and HPLC (conducted at Winterthur) suggested that Luttichuys used a two-layer system to depict the design, first applying a layer of indigo followed with an uppermost layer of ultramarine. Luttichuys also selectively used a red-lake to glaze over local areas of the hazelnuts and on top of the orange. 

The treatment involved removing a layer of yellowed dirt from the surface and adjusting past restoration paint that was applied revealing the original tonality and depth within the composition. The results of the treatment as well as technical findings were presented formally in the galleries to the previous owners of the painting, alongside Dr. Edwin Buijsen, Head of Collections, Dr. Emilie Gordenker, former Director and newly appointed Director of the Van Gogh Museum, Quentin Buvelot, Senior Curator, and my supervisor, Sabrina Meloni.

— Julianna Ly, WUDPAC Class of 2020

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In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Julianna Ly shares her experiences as a Fulbright/American Friends of the Mauritshuis intern, working with a collection that includes some of the world’s best-known Dutch paintings.

​In this blog post, WUDPAC Class of 2020 Fellow Julianna Ly shares her experiences as a Fulbright/American Friends of the Mauritshuis intern, working with a collection that includes some of the world's best-known Dutch paintings.

4/8/2020
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  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489
  • art-conservation@udel.edu