Scientists from UCLA, National Gallery of Art pioneer new way to analyze artwork

Scientists from UCLA and the National Gallery of Art have used a combination of three advanced imaging techniques to produce a highly detailed analysis of a second century Egyptian painting. They are the first to use the specific combination — which they termed “macroscale multimodal chemical imaging” — to examine an ancient work of art. The new technique enabled them to learn about the raw materials the artist used, and the order in which they were applied to the painting, and it uncovered insights about the painting’s connections to other work from the same era. The approach, which is described in a paper published in Scientific Reports, integrates three existing techniques — hyperspectral diffuse reflectance, luminescence and X-ray fluorescence — to examine the painting. The concept is a high-tech version of what might happen if one were to analyze an everyday object with, say, the naked eye, an X