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"Chemical autograph" by Rembrandt


"Chemical autograph" by Rembrandt

Here is a picture of Rembrandt Bathing of Bathsheba, or Bathsheba with a Letter from King David (see Bathsheba at Her Bath ). She has a beautiful Bathsheba , the wife of a warrior Urias of the Hittiyan , depicted in sad thoughtfulness after reading a letter from the coveted King David .

Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn is a Dutch painter and engraver, one of the most famous representatives of Golden Age Dutch Painting . Rembrandt is also considered the greatest innovator and experimenter of his time, constantly looking for new techniques and techniques for painting. For example, it is known that, already being a recognized master, the artist himself primed the canvases - moreover, the priming technique for each painting was individual. Rembrandt made extensive use of to produce deep complex colors. glaze - applying translucent paints on top of the main pigment. Another signature technique of the artist is impasto applying a very thick layer of paint with a brush or palette knife which adds relief to the picture. Rembrandt mainly used impasto for the bright areas of his paintings - faces, hands and folds of clothing.

The study of Rembrandt impasto methods 3-3-334. X-ray diffraction 3-3-33258. and X-ray diffraction 3-3-33258. with high angular resolution showed that the composition of the white pigment in the areas of impasto differs from the composition traditional for that time. Microsamples of paint (less than 0.1 mm) were analyzed from three paintings painted using light impasto - Bathsheba with a Letter from King David (1654), 3-3-33239. Susanna (1636) and Portrait of Martin Solmans (1634 see Pendant portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit ).


"Chemical autograph" by Rembrandt

Rembrandt, “Portrait of Martin Solmans”, 1634 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. The enlarged images show the impasto technique used to write sockets . Image from article V. Gonsales et al., 2019.3-3r3149. Unraveling the Composition of Rembrandt's Impasto through the Identification of Unusual Plumbonacrite by Multimodal X-ray Diffraction Analysis


In addition to the classic lead white - mixtures of cerussite (lead carbonate PbCO 3 ) and hydrocerussite (the main lead carbonate Pb 3-3-3209. 3 3-33210. (CO 3-3-3209. 3 3-33210.) 3-3-3209. 2 3-33210. (OH) 3-3-3209. 2 3-3-33210.), which were used by all artists of that period, 3 . plumbonacrite (Pb 3-3-3209. 5 3-33210. (CO 3-3-3209. 3 3-33210.) 3-3-3209. 3 3-33210. O (OH) 3-3-3329. 2 3-3-33210.). This is also a white pigment, a close relative of cerussite and hydrocyerussite, but in painting it is used much less often. Plumbonacrit was used by some artists of the early XX century, and it can also be found on the canvases of the late XIX - early XX centuries as a product of the decomposition of another pigment - red tris lead tetraoxide (Pb 3-3-3209. 3 3-33210. O 3-3-3209. 4 3-33210.). On the canvases of the XVII century, this pigment was not found before, so most art historians agreed that at that time they simply could not get it.

How did plumbonacrit get on Rembrandt’s canvases? A more detailed analysis of pigments using the source synchrotron radiation , improving the resolution and sensitivity of measurements, showed that in the area of impasto the ratio of cerussite and hydrocyrussussite was violated. In the impasto layer of the painting “Bathsheba with the letter of King David” was 9% of cerussite, and in the other two paintings even less - one and two percent. At the same time, in the deeper layers, the “classical” ratio of hydrocyrusussite to cerussite — about seven to three — was preserved for the pigments of that period. Probably, cerussite somehow turned into plumbonacrit. But how did this happen?


"Chemical autograph" by Rembrandt

a - micrograph of the cross section of a sample of paint from the painting "Bathing of Bathsheba", at the top of - impasto layer, bottom - white sublayer. b - d - images obtained by X-ray diffraction. Green color - hydrocerussite, red - plumbonacrit, blue - cerussite. c - a cut of a sample of paint from a wall outlet on “Portrait of Martin Solmans”. d - a cut of a sample of paint from a drapery in a picture "Susanna". Image from article V. Gonsales et al., 2019.3-3r3149. Unraveling the Composition of Rembrandt's Impasto through the Identification of Unusual Plumbonacrite by Multimodal X-ray Diffraction Analysis


Maybe plumbonacrit was present in the pigment initially? In the process of producing lead white with corrosion of metallic lead, plumbonacrite was an intermediate product (all reactions take place in an acetic acid medium, but it is not included in the intermediate products, in fact being a catalyst): 3-3-33263.

5Pb +5/2 O 2 + 3 CO 2 + H 2 O -> Pb 5 (CO 3-3-3209. 3 3-33210.) 3-3-3209. 3 O (OH) 2

3 Pb 5 (CO 3-3-3209. 3 3-33210.) 3-3-3209. 3 O (OH) 2 + CO 2 + 2 H 2 O -> 5 Pb 3 (CO 3 ) 2 (OH) 2

Pb 3 (CO 3 ) 2 (OH) 2 + CO 2 -> 3 PbCO 3 + H 2 O

It can be assumed that, for some reason, the reaction was not complete, and plumbonacrit did not have time to turn into hydrocerussite and cerussite. However, this hypothesis seems unlikely. Firstly, the first stage of transformation is the slowest, the second and third pass much faster. Therefore, plumbonacrit does not have time to accumulate among the reaction products, and earlier no one was able to detect it. Secondly, plumbonacrit is prone to form epitaxial a film on the surface of lead, while cerussite and hydrocerussite have no such affinity for lead, and usually their layers are formed separately on top of plumbonacrite. Therefore, if some small amount of plumbonacrite were preserved after the reaction, it would still remain on the metal and not fall into the final pigment. Thirdly, such an assumption does not explain in any way the lack of the final pigment namely cerussite in comparison with hydroceussite.

So, Rembrandt deliberately added a certain additional ingredient to his whitewash - therefore, plumbonacrit was discovered on three canvases written at different times. This ingredient must have been alkaline (plumbonacrit can be formed from cerussite only in an alkaline environment) and should not contain any other metals (otherwise they would have been found in the analysis too). The most suitable candidate is 3-3-33217. lead oxide PbO. But why did the artist add it to the canvas? Most likely, to create the impasto texture that he needs. The fact is that lead oskide is accelerates evaporation of the oil base of paints, so impasto dries faster and its texture does not have time to break in the drying process. In addition, lead oxide probably reacted with the oil base of the paints, 3–3–3221. fatty acids , which could affect the viscosity of the pigment and the texture of the final impasto. And when lead oxide reacts with cerussite and hydrocerussite, they turn into plumbonacrite. Cerussite probably reacted with lead oxide faster than more than 3–3–3223. major hydrocerussite, so its amount in the final pigment is so low. However, this hypothesis has not yet been fully confirmed, therefore it cannot be ruled out that Rembrandt used some additional techniques to reduce the amount of cerussite.


"Chemical autograph" by Rembrandt

Rembrandt, Susanna, 1636 gallery Mauritshuis The Hague. Image from ru.wikipedia.org


Identifying the authenticity of Rembrandt's paintings is a huge problem for art historians. The artist was very popular during his lifetime, so many contemporaries imitated him. Many of these paintings with forged signatures later found themselves in museums and private collections. Also at the peak Rembrandt received a very large number of orders, which he partially delegated to his students and apprentices. They were engaged not only in preparatory work - grinding pigments and preparing canvases - but they also wrote under the guidance of the artist. On many such canvases, Rembrandt even put his signature!

In the 19th century, more than a thousand works were attributed to Rembrandt, and in the 20th century this number only increased. To understand this chaos, Dutch art historians created in 1968 a special research project "Rembrandt" ( The Rembrandt Database ). They did a great job and found out that unambiguously Rembrandt’s brushes can be attributed to only 236 canvases. The presence of plumbonacrite on the canvas can now be considered an additional parameter to confirm the authenticity of Rembrandt's works - a kind of "chemical autograph" of the great artist.

Image from commons.wikimedia.org . Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn, Bathing of Bathsheba, 1654 Louvre Museum , Paris.

Natalia Samoilova

09 июнь 2020 /
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