Imaging Techniques and the Rejuvenation of Artwork

Roy S. Berns, Munsell Color Science Laboratory, Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology
Fine Hall 214

Advances in digital imaging within the visible spectrum enable the accurate color rendering of artwork. It is possible to generate a colorimetric image with high spatial resolution and high image quality (appropriate sharpness and low noise). When the number of sensor channels exceeds three, it is also possible to generate spectral images. Spectral images can be used to calculate colorimetric images for any illuminant and observer pair, to evaluate color inconstancy, as an aid in retouching (i.e., restorative inpainting), for pigment mapping, and to improve printed reproductions. These digital images, of course, record the color and spectra of the artwork in its current condition. Depending on how the artwork has aged, its color may bear little resemblance to its appearance when first executed. This can dramatically affect the analysis of the painting in terms of its historical context and understanding the artist's working methods. A variety of techniques can be used to determine such color changes including analysing cross-sections, finding protected areas and identical materials that retain their color, early photographic records, and descriptions by art critics and connoisseurs at the time of creation. Having determined that a color change has occurred, it is possible to rejuvenate the colors of a digital image by using the principles of instrumental-based color matching. These principles are used to determine pigments and their concentrations that when mixed, match a particular color. This is equivalent to pigment mapping. The digital rejuvenation is performed by either replacing the spectral properties of the changed pigment with one that hasn't changed or increasing the concentration of a pigment that has faded. These rejuvenated images, while speculative, provide important and interesting new insights. This presentation will review research by the author in digital rejuvenation using examples by Vincent Van Gogh and Georges Seurat.