Chemistry is well known as an important science field, however lately it has been used to uncover the true identity of an artist. A chemical X-ray analysis of a painting depicting a somber brunette shows that it had once been of a blonde with purple ribbons in her hair. Pentirsi, meaning to repent, is a common method used by artists to alter the original version of a painting. In this case, the unknown artist had decided that a brunette with tightly pulled back hair was a much more modest approach as opposed to a curly-haired blonde. This finding, presented at a meeting of the American Chemistry Society by Matthias Alfeld, was discovered by a technique known as scanning macro-X-ray fluorescence. The hidden pigments of the artwork were therefore uncovered without damaging the artwork.
The analysis resulted in the discovery of “Pauline in a white dress.” “This suggests that the artists regretted it and made it more modest,” said Alfred of the University of Antwerp in Belgium. The X-ray analysis was requested by the painting’s owner who was curious to confirm the artist responsible for the indecisive work. The artist’s identity is still a mystery, although the painting is attributed to a German painter, Phillip Otto Runge. The painting is presumed to be of his wife Pauline. The results of the X-ray analysis have only created a more dimensional mystery; the only fact confirmed being that the unknown artist struggled with the familiar battle between blondes and brunettes.
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Written by: Melissa Marques