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Don't Fade Away: Saving the Vivid Yellows of Matisse and Van Gogh

SLAC Public Lecture Series

Don't Fade Away: Saving the Vivid Yellows of Matisse and Van Gogh

Jennifer Mass, Winterthur Museum / University of Delaware

The masterpieces of Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Seurat and many of their contemporaries are currently undergoing catastrophic changes, including paint discoloration and loss. This damage, which threatens many works of art of our cultural heritage, is associated with three specific yellow pigments: cadmium yellow, chrome yellow, and zinc yellow. These are the iconic yellows of the post-Impressionist and early modernist periods. X-ray analysis of the paintings, already a standard tool of art interpretation and conservation, can give us clues toward a solution. This lecture will describe how X-ray observations at SLAC and other laboratories reveal these yellow pigments reacting with their environments and changing over time, and the implications of these discoveries for the preservation of these irreplaceable works.

Please note that due to a change in lecture venue, online registration for public lectures will be required in advance of each talk. Also, these lectures fill quickly so I highly recommend arriving early! 

Click Here to Register

Speaker Bio:

Jennifer Mass is director of the Winterthur Museum's Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory and a faculty member in the Winterthur/University of Delaware MS Program in Art Conservation. As a senior scientist at the laboratory with a PhD in inorganic chemistry, she researches how artists' pigments change over time and how paintings can be studied in depth with nondestructive techniques. She has published numerous articles on her research in art conservation, physics and materials science journals, and received awards for her confocal X-ray fluorescence (XRF) research from the Italian Society for Nondestructive Testing and the Materials Research Society. Mass recently co-edited a volume on handheld XRF applications in art and archaeology and co-organized two symposia on the application of synchrotron-based methodologies to the study of cultural heritage.

More information on the SLAC Public Lecture Series:

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  • Chris K.

    If anyone else is here, we're sitting in the fifth row, just right of center. Look for the guy with the laptop...

    October 1, 2013

  • Elisa

    A family problem came up and I can't attend after all. This will be a no host event unless someone else wants to be point person for those who want to connect. My reservation is available if someone needs it (email me separately at [masked]). Sorry I will miss it!

    September 30, 2013

    • Lisa

      We'll miss seeing you Elisa, hope everything turns out ok.

      September 30, 2013

  • Edward W.

    I entered a yes rsvp here but did not see the link.

    Does this mean that I will not be able to attend?

    September 30, 2013

  • oscar v.

    Sold out.

    September 30, 2013

  • Lisa

    Hi Elisa, see you there!

    September 25, 2013

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