21.11.2017

RECENART gives art the scientific treatment

Is this an authentic Picasso? RECENART has the answer. 

Buying a valuable piece of art is risky business. Reliable methods to verify authenticity are few and far between. In fact, in the majority of cases, art experts simply visually appraise the work to verify its origins.

In the past few years, however, the media has reported on several forgeries of famous paintings long believed to be originals. Forgeries are a problem that RECENART wishes to eliminate. The company studies the origins of artworks with a multidisciplinary approach. RECENART manages to uniquely combine expertise in art history and extremely detailed imaging technology.

Success through cooperation

RECENART is the result of innovation at the University of Jyväskylä. The company originated as a pilot project at the Department of Music, Art and Culture Studies. Researchers had found that hyperspectral imaging could also serve the humanities, specifically by analysing the authenticity of art. From the very beginning, the work of RECENART has been a shining example of what a multidisciplinary way of thinking can accomplish.

After the pilot phase, the research project became an actual company, RECENART. Despite this, the company still maintains close ties to the University of Jyväskylä.

tang_spektrit-640x480.jpg

RECENART got significant attention from the media after it verified the authenticity of a suspected Claude Monet painting from the collection of a Finnish museum. The handiwork of Monet was verified through several methods. First, the pigments of the paint colors used in the painting were compared to Monet’s other work. Through hyperspectral imaging, researchers also discovered a Monet signature and date hidden under layers of paint.

An analysis of Dutch painter Frans Hals’s potential work led to a very different conclusion. Hals is renowned for his portraits, and discovering the painting was really his would have delighted the museum that owned it. Disappointingly, hyperspectral imaging revealed the painting to be a clear forgery.

Fresh camera technology aids analysis

  • A hyperspectral camera measures numerous short wavelengths and combines them into a single image.
  • Filming paintings with a hyperspectral camera can reveal old layers of paint from under the surface. This can lead to the discovery of hidden signatures or previous stages in the painting’s creation.
  • Hyperspectral imaging also has applications in several other fields. At JYU, researchers have used it to e.g. examine the condition of lakes and rivers through plankton imaging.

hyperspectral1.jpeg


RECENART goes global

RECENART’s headquarters are still in Jyväskylä, but art doesn’t have to travel all the way there to be analysed. The company also has a mobile laboratory that enables artworks to be studied anywhere. This is vital in ensuring that valuable works do not risk being harmed during transportation.

The work of RECENART is rapidly growing global. Art circles around the world are in high demand of scientific art analysis. The company is also developing new services. In the future, it might offer a nanotechnology-based marking service that leaves microscopic identifying markers on paintings. This would enable the researchers to not only discover forgeries, but to also prevent them before they happen.