Pagan Gods, detail

Infrared examination

Conservators used infrared radiation (IR) to investigate Sargent’s technique. IR is a non-destructive method that provides information about early stages of the painting process. It penetrates most paint films, allowing the examiner to see underneath the layers. Some pigments become transparent by transmitting IR radiation while others, like carbon, become highly discernible by absorbing it. Thus, any carbon-based underdrawings on the ground layer of the paintings become visible. Because IR radiation is invisible to the human eye, examiners use a camera sensitive to the IR range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
1. Pagan Gods, detail in normal light of a male figure behind a blue veil
2. IR image; note the transparency of the blue pigment in the diagonal brushstrokes
(2003 images)
The Triumph of Religion