“The experience and the scientific tools are coming from the entire world, converging on this one portray, this one masterpiece,” Ms. Vandivere stated. “We’ll see how a lot info we will achieve with the expertise at our disposal in a really brief time period — two weeks, working 24 hours a day, day and night time.”
The “Woman” is the star attraction of the Mauritshuis, a set of Dutch 17th-century work that attracts about 400,000 guests annually. Eradicating her from public view for any size of time doubtlessly impacts attendance, so museum officers tried to maintain the examination interval as brief as doable, and to maintain her within the public eye as a lot as doable.
As an alternative of taking her as much as the restoration studio, Emilie Gordenker, the Mauritshuis’s director, determined to place the entire analysis mission on show within the museum’s Golden Room, a regal chamber with 18th century décor, the place the “Woman” and the analysis workforce might be enclosed in glass partitions whereas video displays enable guests to look at what’s taking place inside. A high-resolution, three-dimensional copy of the “Woman” created by OC, a Netherlands-based Canon firm, will sit on an easel exterior the glass chamber.
“Getting the ‘Woman’ out of her body implies that she’s not seen in the best way that she usually is for guests, and that was an enormous concern for us as a result of folks come from far and huge to see this image,” Ms. Gordenker stated. “Often she’ll be mendacity on a mattress with every kind of cameras hanging round her, so that you may not be capable of see her as traditional, or she could be half lined by a scanner. We needed to ensure that for individuals who will come, they get taken alongside within the course of.”
It has been greater than twenty years since Vermeer’s so-called “Mona Lisa of the North” has been the topic of an examination, and since that point, there was quite a lot of development within the instruments used to look at artworks. In 1994, researchers employed instruments corresponding to X-radiography, UV images and infrared reflectography, and took tiny paint samples out of the portray.
At this time’s imaging instruments are noninvasive, which suggests there’s nary a brush or Q-tip in sight, and there might be no removing of particles. The applied sciences which were introduced collectively for this examination will “cull a number of terabytes of knowledge,” stated Joris Dik, one of many lead researchers, from Delft College of Expertise. These can later be used to create high-resolution laptop visualizations of the portray that have been by no means doable earlier than.
“I can think about on the finish we’ll have one thing like Google Earth the place you possibly can click on on all totally different layers and zoom out and in of the portray to see totally different parts throughout the layers of paint,” he stated.
The “Woman” has been on show within the Mauritshuis since 1881. The work wasn’t thought-about to be a specific spotlight of the gathering — which additionally contains Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” and “The Goldfinch” by Carel Fabritius — till a significant exhibition in collaboration with the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork in Washington in 1995, adopted by the publication of Tracy Chevalier’s best-selling novel of the identical title 4 years later and the next 2003 movie, starring Scarlett Johansson.
Ms. Chevalier imagined the fictional topic for Vermeer’s portray as a housemaid who’s invited into the internal sanctum of the grasp’s studio, and allowed to put on his spouse’s pearl earring for the portrait, making a sure frisson between the artist and his mannequin.
Ms. Gordenker stated that in actuality, the image in all probability wasn’t painted as a portrait of any explicit individual. Attempting to determine the id of the real-life “Woman” — if there even was one — isn’t a query for analysis.
“One of many issues that makes this portray so spectacularly interesting is that we don’t know,” Ms. Gordenker stated. That’s one thriller that this 12 months’s inquiry is not going to try to unravel.