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Kunsthaus Zürich

Preliminary research

Preliminary research shows positive resutlts

Cross section of the layers of  paint of Panel 16
The two lowest layers are probably part of the painting’s ground.  Clearly visible above are the original coats of paint with two layers of yellow and blue.  The top grayish-blue layers are not original.  Above these, but not easily visible, is a coat of non-original varnish.
Cross section of the layers of paint of Panel 16
The two lowest layers are probably part of the painting’s ground. Clearly visible above are the original coats of paint with two layers of yellow and blue. The top grayish-blue layers are not original. Above these, but not easily visible, is a coat of non-original varnish.

Preliminary research shows positive results in “Pétales et jardin de la Nymphe Ancolie” – scientific analysis indicates that the different binding agents of the original and non-original layers are clearly distinguishable.  The original painting consists of oil paint, whereas the binding agent of the non-original coats is a synthetic resin.  The entire surface and the painted-over sections are covered by a thick layer of polyester resin varnish.  The non-original sections can also be seen under a microscope and under UV light, while cross sections of the panels illustrate the differences in painterly techniques. Furthermore, the exposure of small areas demonstrates the differences:  the layers of non-original paint and varnish can be removed leaving the original untouched.







Exposure tests in Panel 3
The upper left corner before and after the removal of the non-original paint and varnish: the damaged areas along the edges of the panels become visible.  However, a large part of the original paint under the newer coats of paint and varnish remains intact and appears in a radiant light blue. The lower half of the image was not painted over but a layer of varnish had been applied which has grayed.  After the removal of the varnish the colorfulness also clearly improves.  In the lower right-hand corner there is still yellowed varnish.
Exposure tests in Panel 3
The upper left corner before and after the removal of the non-original paint and varnish: the damaged areas along the edges of the panels become visible. However, a large part of the original paint under the newer coats of paint and varnish remains intact and appears in a radiant light blue. The lower half of the image was not painted over but a layer of varnish had been applied which has grayed. After the removal of the varnish the colorfulness also clearly improves. In the lower right-hand corner there is still yellowed varnish.

The probably most important, but also most difficult question was: is there still original substance under the newer, non-original layers of paint and varnish?  Cross sections and the exposure of certain parts were once again helpful.  The results of these tests are very promising as they indicate that the underlying original paint has remained largely intact – the newer top layers of paint and varnish notwithstanding.  As expected, the sections in which original paint is largely lost are situated near the cut lines, at the edges of the panels.  The proportional extent of damage to the original will only become apparent after the complete removal of the non-original layers.
The extent of the remaining colorfulness, which appeared from under the non-original layers, is as astonishing as the existence of so much original substance.  The original colors are more luminous and considerably lighter.  In addition, the surfaces near the edges of the panels in their original frame do not seem to have shifted from the colors in the central areas of the mural.
However, the analysis also revealed that, due to its position, the lower row of panels has suffered greatly even before the mural’s removal from the bar.  Here the damaged areas under the non-original coats are numerous.