Skip to main content Accessibility help

Collaboration or Appropriation? Examining a 17th c. Panel by David Teniers the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Younger Using Confocal X-Ray Fluorescence Microscopy

  • Jennifer L. Mass (a1), Arthur R. Woll (a2), Noelle Ocon (a3), Christina Bisulca (a4), Tomasz Wazny (a5), Carol B. Griggs (a6) and Matt Cushman (a7)...


The 17th c. Flemish painting on panel, The Armorer's Shop, has long been attributed to David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690). The painting depicts an opulent pile of parade armor at the bottom left foreground, a seated armorer at the bottom right foreground, and a forge surrounded by workers in the middle ground. The Teniers attribution is derived from his signature at the bottom right as well as figural groups and other visual elements that are commonly associated with him and executed in his style. During dendrochronological examination of the painting, a portion of the oak plank comprising the overall structure was found to have been carved out so that a smaller plank (containing the parade armor) could be inserted into the resulting depression. This unusual construction, combined with the identification of several paintings by Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678) depicting the same parade armor, raised questions about the attribution and chronology of construction of the painting. Art historical research suggests that the smaller plank with the armor was painted by Brueghel and that the remainder of the panel with the workers and forge was painted by his brother-in-law Teniers. While Brueghel writes of collaborating with Teniers in his journal, this appears to be the only identified collaboration of the two artists. Conventional microanalysis methods did not resolve the painting's construction chronology. However, confocal x-ray fluorescence microscopy (CXRF) revealed the composition and location of buried paint layers at the panel interfaces by combining depth scans at a number of adjacent lateral positions to produce virtual cross-sections over 20 mm in length. The relationship of the paint layers at the panel interfaces provided evidence for the armor panel having been painted separately and prior to the rest of the composition. This data, along with dendrochronological and IRR data, provided a chronology of construction for the painting that provided additional evidence for a Brueghel attribution. An overview of the CXRF technique will be provided along with a discussion of how CXRF data relates to data collected using SEM-EDS, FTIR, Raman, conventional XRF, x-radiography, IRR, and dendrochronology.



Hide All
1. Grancsay, S.V., The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 9, 2340 (1946).
2. Woollett, A.T., Suchtelen, A. van, Doherty, T., Leonard, M., and Wadum, J., Rubens and Brueghel: A Working Friendship, (J. Paul Getty Museum, Waanders Publishers, Los Angeles, Mauritshaus, Den Haag, Zwolle, 2006) pp. 141.
3. Bilderback, D.H., X-Ray Spectrometry 32(3), 195 (2003).
4. Woll, A.R., Mass, J., Bisulca, C., Huang, R., Bilderback, D.H., Gruner, S., and Gao, N., Applied Physics a-Materials Science & Processing 83, 235 (2006). Also, A.R. Woll, S. Gruner, D. Bilderback, N. Gao, C. Bisulca, and J. L. Mass, Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology VII, edited by P. B. Vandiver, J. L. Mass, and A. Murray, (Mater. Res. Soc. Proc. 852 Pittsburgh, PA, 2005) pp. 281-290.
5. Woll, A., CHESS 2005 News Magazine (, 41 (2005).
6. Klein, P., in Recent developments in the technical examination of early Netherlandish painting: Methodology, limitations & perspectives, edited by Faries, M. et al. (Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums, 2003 ) pp. 6581.
7. Ertz, K., Jan Brueghel der Ätere. Die Gemölde mit kritischem Oeurvrekatalog (DuMont Buchverlag, Köln, 1979).
8. Ertz, K., Jan Breughel der Jüngere. Die Gemölde mit kritischem Oeuvrekatalog (Luca Verlag, Freren, 1984).
9. Brown, C., Rubens's Landscapes: Making and Meaning (National Gallery Publications, London, 1996) pp. 99104 and 116.
10. Wetering, E. Van de, in Preprints, Historical Painting Techniques, Materials and Studio Practice, edited by Wallert, A. et al. (The Getty Conservation Institute and University of Leiden, Leiden, Los Angeles, 1995).
11. Wallert, A., Still Lifes: Techniques and Style: An Examination of Paintings from the Rijksmuseum, (Waanders, Rijksmuseum, Zwolle, Amsterdam, 1999).
12. Woudhuysen, R.-Keller, and Woudhuysen, P., in Looking Through Paintings: The Study of Painting Techniques and Materials in Support of Art Historical Research, edited by Hermens, E. et al. (Archetype publications, London, Baarn, 1998) pp. 133146.
13. Bomford, D., Brown, C., and Roy, A., Art in the making: Rembrandt, (National Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1998).
14. Hout, N. Van, in Looking Through Paintings: The Study of Painting Techniques and Materials in Support of Art Historical Research, edited by Hermens, E. et al. (Archetype publications, London, Baarn, 1998) pp. 195225.
15. Hendriks, E., and Verspronck, J.C., in Looking Through Paintings: The Study of Painting Techniques and Materials in Support of Art Historical Research, edited by Hermens, E. et al. (London, Baarn, Archetype publications, 1998) pp. 227263.
16. Boon, J., in Proceedings of the Sixth Infrared and Raman Users Group Conference, edited by Picollo, M., (il prato, Florence, Italy, 2004) pp. 66130.
17. Janssens, K., Proost, K., and Falkenberg, G., Spectrochimica Acta Part B-Atomic Spectroscopy, 59(10-11), 16371645 (2004).
18. Kanngiesser, B., Malzer, W., and, Reiche, I., Nuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research Section B-Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, 211(2), 259264 (2003).
19. Kanngiesser, B., Malzer, W., Rodriguez, A.F., and Reiche, I., Spectrochimica Acta Part B-Atomic Spectroscopy, 60 (1), 4147 (2005).
20. Vincze, L., Vekemans, B., Brenker, F.E., Falkenberg, G., Rickers, K., Somogyi, A., Kersten, M., and Adams, F., Analytical Chemistry 76(22), 67866791 (2004).
21. Wadum, J., in The Structure and Conservation of Panel Paintings, edited by Dardes, K. et al. (The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1998) pp. 149177.
22. Wazny, T., in Constructing Wooden Images, edited by Velde, C. van de et al. (VUB Press, Brussels, 2005) pp. 115126.
23. Wazny, T., Aufbau und Anwendung der Dendrochronologie für Eichenholz in Polen. Dissertation, (Universitöt Hamburg, 1990).
24. Bauch, J., and Eckstein, D., Studies in Conservation 15, 4550 (1970).
25.The Royal Castle in Warsaw, inv. No. ZKW 2123
26. Stroo, C., Syfer-D'Olne, P., DuBois, A., and Slachmuylders, R., The Flemish Primitives. II. The Dirk Bouts, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling and Hugo van der Goes Groups. Catalogue ofEarly Netherlandish Painting in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, (Brepols, Brussels, 1999).



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed