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Artificial Intelligence Is Revealing Secrets About How the Ghent Altarpiece Was Made—and Damaged

Category: Collections Stewardship
image of x-ray scans of historic altar piece

Thanks to artificial intelligence, researchers have been able to better understand x-rays taken of the Ghent Altarpiece, a two-sided piece of art. Typically, x-ray images of artwork can reveal structural issues or damage to the art, but since this piece was two-sided, it was difficult for researchers to decipher on their own. In future, AI technology like this could be used to reveal deeper layers to works of art.

“The new method has only been used on two of the altarpiece’s panels so far, but is expected to assist in the further study of the famous work. Moving forward, it could also make it easier to identify covered-up compositions on reused canvases, or changes an artist made during a work’s creation.”

– Sarah Cascone, artnet News

Researchers have harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to decode x-ray images of the Ghent Altarpiece, the 15th-century masterpiece by brothers Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck at the St. Bavo Cathedral in Belgium. Being able to read the x-rays can help identify damage to the painting by showing areas where varnish or overpainting hides cracks, paint loss, or other structural issues.

Continue Reading at artnet News

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