Screening Michael Sweerts en Michaelina Wautier. The added value of advanced imaging for characterising 17th-century Brussels's painting.
Recently a number of fake 17th-century Netherlandish paintings has come on the market and rocked the world of art historians, curators, collectors and art dealers. One of the paintings that caused a great deal of controversy is a Portrait of a Man by Frans Hals that later has been revealed as false. Although some technological research had be done on the painting, the then used research methods were not enough to make the difference between an original painting and a present-day forgery. The aim of this project is twofold. First, to conduct a systematic investigation of a sample of works by two painters of the Brussels scene in the mid of the 17th century. A selection of paintings by Michael Sweerts will be analyzed in confrontation with some contemporary paintings by Michaelina Wautier. Second, the achieved results regarding the Brussels painterly characteristics will be measured in relation to the previously studied cases of Antwerp masters. For this purpose, we plan to make use of the recently developed method of scanning macro X-ray fluorescence (MAXRF) imaging. To guard against forgery technological strategies will be developed to reconstruct the stages of evolution of 17th-century painting in Brussels and Antwerp with special emphasis on the structure of underlying layers. To this end, in the starting phase of the project, the current MAXRF advanced imaging method will be improved.