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Materials science challenges in paintings


Through the paintings of the old masters, we showcase how materials science today provides us with a vision of the processes involved in the creation of a work of art: the choice of materials, the painter's skill in handling these materials, and the perception of the finished work.

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Figure 1: Vincent van Gogh, self-portrait as an artist (1888, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).


Figure 2: Comparison between sections of two paintings of roughly equal size (12 cm × 6 cm).
Figure 3: Vermilion pigment.


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Correspondence to Philippe Walter or Laurence de Viguerie.

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Walter, P., de Viguerie, L. Materials science challenges in paintings. Nat. Mater. 17, 106–109 (2018).

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