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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)...

Abstract

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.

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