X-ray Analysis: Oil on Canvas, Portrait of a Young Man after Rembrandt

X-ray Analysis: Oil on Canvas, Portrait of a Young Man after Rembrandt

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A nationally known art historian visited Kubtec recently in order to perform advanced image analysis on a curious painting she obtained at auction. Kubtec’s high-resolution x-ray equipment revealed new details which were previously obscured, leading to exciting conclusions about the origin of the art. Jerry Conlogue, Professor of Diagnostic Imaging at Quinnipiac University, provided expert assistance during the hands-on study.  

The portrait of a young man was painted using oil on canvas, done in the styling of the famous Rembrandt van Rijn. Although Rembrandt died in the 1600s, some newer parts such as the wood and nails used to reinforce the canvas are thought to have been incorporated later, closer to the 1800s. The subject is Nicolaes Bruyningh, Law Student/Clerk b., 1630 – d. 1680 (original Nicolaes Bruyningh, 1652, Kassel Germany).  

Using the Kubtec XTEND® Portable High Resolution X-ray System, the team took several images of the painting and was able to make some important determinations:  

The radiograph showed the density of the paint used in certain sections, specifically in the facial area of the nose, cheeks, forehead and the tassels from the collar only. It also shows other details obscured by surface dirt and old varnish, not evident without the radiograph.  

Additionally, the radiograph showed in intricate detail the weave of the canvas, with thicker threads and thinner threads at consistent intervals. The experts noted that the canvas may not be of the highest quality due to the weave construction, commenting that artists often end up in hardship at certain times in their life and must resort to using whatever canvas and materials are available within their means.  

With no signature nor date on the painting itself, the experts concluded that the artwork is less likely to be a deliberate forgery. Rather, the piece may have been done by a student of the master, another artist who admired Rembrandt’s work, or even, in a farther reaching conclusion, by the master, himself.  

Kubtec's guests were excited about their new findings and concluded that there are more facts to be discovered and more analysis to be done before the full history of the piece can be learned.

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