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Science of saving artwork subject of lectures March 18, 19

The science of saving works of art will be the subject of two free lectures to be given by Gregory Smith, the Otto N. Frenzel III Senior Conservation Scientist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The lectures are sponsored by The University of Toledo’s College of Communication and the Arts and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Friday, March 18, Smith will give a talk titled “Disappearing Ink! Unraveling the Fading of a Modern Design Object” at 6 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Little Theater.

He will examine a contemporary vase from the design collection that faded badly during its first year after entering the Indianapolis Museum of Art collection. This led to Smith’s exploration of its continuing lightfastness issues, an interview with the artist, and a scientific analysis of the materials of its creation.

In addition, he will talk about Untitled #1176, a contemporary work by artist Petah Coyne in the Toledo Museum of Art’s collection.

"Undergrowth With Two Figures" by Vincent van Gogh

“Undergrowth With Two Figures” by Vincent van Gogh

Saturday, March 19, Smith’s talk is titled “Goghing, Goghing, Gone! The Analysis of Color Fading in Masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh.” The lecture will take place at 9:30 a.m. in Wolfe Hall Room 1205 on UT’s Main Campus.

The lecture will highlight a recent collaborative project investigating color fading in Vincent van Gogh’s 1890 masterpiece, “Undergrowth With Two Figures.” The artist’s use of a modern fugitive dye, present as the pigment Geranium Lake, has resulted in significant color change in the picture and a shift in the aesthetics of the artwork. A brief history of the synthesis of eosin and of its importance in artworks of the late 1800s will be given.

Smith will show how a virtual restoration of the painting using realistic colored layers determined by micro-colorimetry of cross-sections of the painting gives a better “impression” of this post-Impressionist’s artistic efforts.

Part of the Saturday Morning Science program, this talk is presented by the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.