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February 2018

Colors Beyond the Visible

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(2):166. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.4990

The process of painting restoration is in open view to all visitors at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Here, multiple techniques for analysis of painting damage caused by time and environmental conditions are openly displayed. One of those involves scanning under UV light. UV light, particularly at 360 nm, reveals what is on the surface of the painting, such as the quality of the top layer and any overlaid fungal growth.1 Furthermore, using a UV filter, the conservator is able to photograph what is underneath the paint, beyond what visible light can show. UV fluorescence photography is able to reveal the presence of natural resin varnishes and can also help in identifying any retouching and overpainting.1 Such studies are about contrasts and colors.

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