Filed under: Art
The works of painter Vincent van Gogh are some of the world's most prized pieces of art, partly for their vibrant tones, but some of those colors have been fading in recent years. Art researchers and scientists have been using X-ray microscopes to examine van Gogh paintings that have been losing their color and determine why once brilliant yellows have been turning brown in several key works of van Gogh and other artists of the late 19th century.
The results of the study were published in the journal Analytical Chemistry. The problem comes down to the chromium in a yellow pigment called yellow chrome which undergoes a chemical reaction when exposed to ultraviolet lighting (including sunlight), turning the painting brown. The paint, which gave works including van Gogh's Sunflowers paintings, their sun-splashed beauty has been known to darken under sunlight since the early 19th century. What's new is that now scientists have uncovered why this happens and can work to gain potential clues as to how to prevent it.