Old Master Minute

Detroit Titian Scanned and Conserved

By Sotheby's
Picture: Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts have published an extended article on the technical analysis and conservation of Titian’s Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes. The painting underwent a staggering amount of analysis including high-resolution photography, X-radiography, infrared reflectography, vis-NIR spectroradiometry, liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, and the partial scanning of the painting with a large area micro-X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. Careful conservation work, which included the removal of old discoloured varnish, has transformed the appearance of the painting by reinstating the tonal range of Titian’s colours. The project was supported by the Tefaf Museum Restoration Fund.

Sotheby’s London July 2022 Evening Sale in featured a similarly interesting Venetian painting, formerly ascribed to both Titian and Giorgione, which employed technical analysis used to determine the painting’s authorship. To read the full catalogue note, and to examine the x-rays of the painting, click here.

Old Master Minute