MA-XRPD on ‘Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele’ by Jan van Eyck

At the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, a Macro X-Ray Powder Diffraction Scanner (MA-XRPD) scanned the ‘Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele‘ by Jan van Eyck. In 2015 the same painting was scanned with a Macro X-Ray Fluorescence Scanner (MA-XRF) which revealed the use and distribution of materials. However, this type of scan can not distinguish and identify all pigments. It can detect copper (Cu), but this does tell us which pigment was used. MA-XRPD, on the other hand can identify differences in the crystal structure, which gives us further indication of the type of pigments.

In this case, it revealed new information on the use of materials and the working practice of Jan van Eyck. Special focus was given to the white pigment lead white, the blue pigment ultramarine and the green copper pigments.

It also gives us insight into the condition of the paint layers. With MA-XRPD it is possible to identify and locate degradation products formed over time, by chemical reactions in the paint layers or on the surface.

In this video, dr. Anne van Oosterwijk (Head of Collection of Musea Brugge), prof. dr. Koen Janssens (AXES group), prof. dr. Geert Van der Snickt, drs. Steven De Meyer and drs. Nina Deleu (AXES & ARCHES group) discuss the first results.