Research press release


Scientific Reports

Imaging: Uncovering Degas’ hidden portrait



今回、Daryl Howard、David Thurrowgoodたちの研究グループは、シンクロトロン放射線源を用いて蛍光X線分析(XRF)を実施して「女性の肖像」の元素マップを作成した上で、このマップを処理して、隠された肖像画の疑似カラー表示を行った。Howardたちによれば、隠されていたのはエマ・ドビニーをモデルとする今まで知られていなかった肖像画であるという。また、彼女の耳が全体と不釣り合いで不鮮明であるのは、そのバランスと目鼻立ちが最終的に決まるまで何回かの試行があったことを示しているとHowardたちは指摘している。ドガは「女性の肖像」を描いた頃に妖精ピクシーのような耳を描いていたという研究報告がある。今回の研究では、元素マップの作成によって、当時の標準的な耳の形に描き直される前の妖精ピクシーのような耳を観察できた。


A ‘hidden’ portrait by the French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas is described in a study in Scientific Reports this week. Using a non-invasive technique, the authors examined a concealed painting underneath Degas’ “Portrait of a Woman”, which could provide further understanding of his work and artistic practices.

“Portrait of a woman” is known to contain a concealed figure and since 1922 the outline of the hidden portrait has been gradually emerging. However, conventional techniques have meant that that the underpainting could not be resolved as more than a faintly outlined female figure.

Using a synchrotron radiation source to perform X-ray fluorescence (XRF), Daryl Howard, David Thurrowgood and colleagues produced elemental maps of the painting, which were processed to produce a false colour representation of the hidden portrait. The authors suggest that the hidden painting is a previously unknown portrait of the model Emma Dobigny. They note that the disproportionate and blurred form of the ears in the hidden painting, are indicative of several attempts to achieve the final proportions and features. Degas is reported as having painted ‘pixie’ like ears at about this period and the maps produced allowed the authors to observe such a ‘pixie’ like ear shape, which was then reworked to a more conventional form.

The authors propose that the unfolding technological developments for examining artwork using synchrotron radiation-based techniques will significantly impact the way cultural heritage is studied for preservation and scholarly purposes.

doi: 10.1038/srep29594


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