11 July 2017 Mapping the opacity of paint layers in paintings with coloured grounds using optical coherence tomography
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Optical diagnostics techniques are becoming important for technical art history (TAH) as well as for heritage conservation. In recent years, optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been increasingly used as a novel technique for the inspection of artwork, revealing the stratigraphy of paintings. It has also shown to be an effective tool for vanish layer inspection. OCT is a contactless and non-destructive technique for microstructural imaging of turbid media, originally developed for medical applications. However current OCT instruments have difficulty in paint layer inspection due to the opacity of most pigments. This paper explores the potential of OCT for the investigation of paintings with coloured grounds. Depth scans were processed to determine the light penetration depth at the optical wavelength based on a 1/e light attenuation calculation. The variation in paint opacity was mapped based on the microstructural images and 3D penetration depth profiles was calculated and related back to the construction of the artwork. By determining the light penetration depth over a range of wavelengths the 3D depth perception of a painting with coloured grounds can be characterized optically.
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Ping Liu, Ping Liu, Moorea Hall-Aquitania, Moorea Hall-Aquitania, Erma Hermens, Erma Hermens, Roger M. Groves, Roger M. Groves, } "Mapping the opacity of paint layers in paintings with coloured grounds using optical coherence tomography", Proc. SPIE 10331, Optics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology VI, 103310C (11 July 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2270273; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2270273

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