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Electromagnetic radiation in the visible (vis) and invisible range (infrared, UV and X-ray) can give information about the structure and condition of an art object. Documentation is carried out with digital cameras (UV, IR) and digital X-ray imaging system (portable X-ray radiography device).
Examinations using UV radiation give information about existing coatings, e.g. varnish (green fluorescence) or oil retouching (dark areas).
Infrared radiation is able to penetrate even opaque layers of paint in many cases and make underdrawings (concepts of the artist) visible in paintings.
X-rays can completely penetrate an object and make the complete structure and its individual components visible.
Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Biol. Dr. Katja Sterflinger
Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure
The holistic approach for the scientific documentation of works of art makes use of radiations ranging in wavelength from X-rays to infrared (IR) in order to generate an image of the object as a whole. Most interesting in this field are X-ray radiography, UV(ultraviolet)-fluorescence and IR-photography as well as infrared reflectography. These methods, which are in a strict sense non-destructive, accord well with the way art historians, archaeologists or conservators would like to treat works of art and archaeology and therefore found early acceptance for the systematic investigation of objects of our cultural heritage.