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Villanova Art Historians Hope For New Revelations in Painting's X-Rays

By Kim Glovas

VILLANOVA, Pa. (CBS) -- The restoration of a 17th century painting is entering a new stage today at Villanova University.  A team of scientists will be giving the work some serious scrutiny.

The "Triumph of David," a 12'-by-20' painting believed to be by artist Pietro de Cortona, has been cleaned, and then, this summer, subjected to "infrared reflectography."

That technique revealed preliminary sketches and compositional changes.


david detail _villanova
(Images and graphic provided by Villanova University)


Lead conservator Kristin De Ghetaldi says that, beginning today, the painting will be x-rayed by scientists from General Electric Company bringing a portable x-ray machine.

She says the new investigation will start in the lower left corner of the painting, on a blackened shield (see top phot0).

She says they are hoping their multi-layer examination will determine whether the painting is actually by de Cortona.  She explains that de Cortona usually painted very ornate shields, and preliminary samples show colorful paint layers underneath the black paint.

"We have now gone in and taken very, very tiny microscopic paint samples of the shield, and we can see that there are colorful paint layers underneath this black paint," she explains.

Hear the full interview in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 11:00)...

Villanova Painting X-Rays



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