According to a group of scientists, Rembrandt ‘s famous painting ” The Night Watch ” contains a certain rare lead compound that would be foreign to all other works by the well-known 17th-century artist:
As part of the Night Watch program – which bills itself as the largest research and conservation project on Rembrandt’s work – scientists have carried out an in-depth analysis of the 1642 work . Although they were skeptical of the real results that the study would allow, the participants were amazed by what they discovered:
Scientists from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam , CNRS , ESRF , the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Antwerp have decided to pool their knowledge and experience to further understand the Rembrandt painting techniques. As stated in the magazine ” Angewandte Chemie “, thanks to the X-ray scanner , the scientists were able to carefully trace both the construction of the image as a whole and its individual fragments. This allowed experts to discover the presence of a rare lead compound:
The Mystery of Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’:
“The lead compound in question is specifically lead formate. Furthermore, it has never appeared before in the analysis of other works of art. Lead formites were recorded only once in 2020 in paintings, but this concerned the so-called pattern images. We have identified them in areas where there is no lead pigment, including white and yellow. They probably disappear quickly, which is why they have not been detected in the paintings of great masters so far” – writes Dr. Victor Gonzalez of the CNRS in ” Angewandte Chemie “.
According to scientists, this discovery can certainly be considered revolutionary because this discovery sheds new light on painting techniques that seemed already known:
“Lead formate gives us valuable new clues about the possible use of Rembrandt’s lead-based oil paint and the potential influence of varnishes on oil paints from previous conservation treatments and the complex chemistry of historic artworks” , says Prof. Katrien Keune of the University of Amsterdam.
However, the discovery of lead formate is only an introduction to further research into Rembrandt’s techniques. The scientists’ next step will be to see if the use of this compound is not accidentally part of subsequent conservation work.
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