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Within the framework of Science4Arts programme, The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has provided funding for the project titled ‘How paint changes: consequences for conservation, presentation and preservation of paintings from Van Eyck to Mondriaan'. The UvA (Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science) will coordinate the research.

Within the framework of Science4Arts programme, The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has provided funding for the project titled ‘How paint changes: consequences for conservation, presentation and preservation of paintings from Van Eyck to Mondriaan'. The UvA (Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science) will coordinate the research. NWO awarded a total of € 3.6 million to six different projects.

The UvA-led PAinT project unravels why paintings become discoloured, crack or suffer other effects from the ravages of time. What are the chemical processes causing changes in oil paintings? How can restorers working on these paintings ensure that they don’t deteriorate further? In this project, a number of Dutch and Flemish paintings will be examined, from Van Eyck and Vermeer to Van Gogh and Mondriaan. The team make use of paint structure models rather than performing experiments on the masterpieces themselves. Computer models will then be used to research how paint reacts to various conditions.

PAinT and the University of Amsterdam

For the past five years, the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) of the Faculty of Science has collaborated with the Faculty of Humanities in the field of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art. HIMS is responsible for the Chemical and Materials Science courses for the minor and master’s programme in Restoration Studies offered by the Faculty of Humanities.

The PAinT project will be carried out by Dr Katrien Keune (HIMS), Dr Annelies van Loon (the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis), and Maartje Stols-Witlox, lecturer in the Restoration Studies Master’s programme. Two doctoral students will also be appointed. The main applicant, Prof. Piet Iedema, is responsible for the mathematical modelling of the aging of paint layers. Research will take place at the laboratories of the Van ’t Hoff Institute, the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) and Utrecht University.

About Science4Arts

The Science4Arts programme is an initiative of the NWO’s Humanities research area and its Chemistry and Natural Sciences research areas. This research programme focuses on studying changes in works of art, including the chemical and physical properties of the work as well as its import and context. In this project, scientists from a variety of disciplines collaborate with experts from the world of art.

Participating parties

The Mauritshuis provided a financial contribution to the project together with the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Frans Hals Museum, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and the Van Gogh Museum. In the project. The Faculty of Science (main applicant) collaborates with the Faculty of Humanities and a number of other partners are also involved: Utrecht University, ESRF (Grenoble), IPANEMA Soleil, Diamond Synchroton Source (Oxford), the Institute of Surface Chemistry (Stockholm), Jaap Enterprise, Courtauld Institute (London), Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), and New University of Lisbon.