I. van der Lans
- Digitally reconstructing Van Gogh’s Field with Irises near Arles
- Part 3: Determining the original colors
- Color Research and Application
- Volume | Issue number
- 43 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Heritage and Memory Studies (AHM)
In earlier articles, we determined the spatial distributions and concentrations of all pigments used by Van Gogh in his painting Field with Irises near Arles. The colors of some pigments are expected to have changed over time, especially those of chrome yellow, cochineal, and eosin lake. For all pigments in this painting, we made physical paint reconstructions by following historical sources on raw materials and production processes, and we determined their optical properties. We combined this with pigment concentration maps to reconstruct the original colors of the painting digitally. When substituting the reconstruction paints into the calculations, we found that technical‐scientific data was not sufficient to resolve several issues. In those cases, discussions within the broad interdisciplinary team allowed us to make informed decisions. These issues refer to the representation of the sky area, and the original contributions of the red lake pigments to local colors. The digitally reconstructed colors of the painting show that due to discoloring of red lake pigments, the irises in the field have changed from a warm purple to purplish blue, and many pink spots in the field have turned to white. The range of yellows in the field has decreased and partly turned to dark brown. The digital reconstruction gives a better understanding of the color scheme used by Van Gogh when compared to remarks the artist made in letters when describing this painting. Also, the original color composition is seen to be aligned with color theories on which Van Gogh based his work.
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