While X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is a well-established technique for the investigation of paintings, the apparatus used are usually custom built and not widely available. Now, Matthias Alfeld and colleagues have developed a portable macro XRF spectrometer to look at paintings in situ.
The team used the device to look at a portrait by Govert Flinck, a Dutch painter who was a protégé of the great Rembrandt. Interestingly, they found that originally the subject was painted wearing a broad bobbin lace collar and long lace cuffs but this was toned down for the final version, possibly because it was too trendy.
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A mobile instrument for in situ scanning macro-XRF investigation of historical paintings
Matthias Alfeld , Joana Vaz Pedroso, Margriet van Eikema Hommes, Geert Van der Snickt, Gwen Tauber, Jorik Blaas, Michael Haschke, Klaus Erler, Joris Dik and Koen Janssens
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2013, Advance Article