WLWT: UC works with art museums to identify fakes and forgeries

Project uses latest science tools to study art in a new way

WLWT highlighted a novel collaboration between art museums and geologists, chemists and art historians at the University of Cincinnati to examine precious artworks using the latest scientific tools.

UC worked with the Taft Museum of Art to use tools such as Xray fluorescence spectroscopy to study the pigments in two paintings in the hopes of learning more about the masterpieces.

Art historian Christopher Platts in UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, and UC College of Arts and Sciences geologist Daniel Sturmer and chemists Pietro Strobbia and Lyndsay Kissell examined "Panel with the Crucifixion" and "Landscape with Canal" in Taft's collection.

The first was a painting on a wood panel in the style of Italian Renaissance artist Bernardo Daddi. UC's chemical analysis revealed more modern pigments in the painting.

UC's experts hoped to shed light on the landscape painting's suspicious signature. The painting was signed John Constable, but experts long have suspected the work was created by contemporary Frederick Waters Watts. UC's analysis was inconclusive.

UC researchers say these tools can help historians pin down the dates the artworks were created and potentially identify a fake or fraud. The Taft Museum of Art included the paintings in an exhibit titled Fakes, Forgeries and Followers in the Taft Collection that runs through Feb. 5.

Read more about UC's collaboration.

Experts in geology, chemistry and art history from UC's College of Arts and Sciences, A&S, and UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, DAAP, consulted with the Taft Museum to determine the authenticity of two paintings in its collection. Faculty included Pietro Strobbia, Daniel Sturmer and Christopher Platts and Aaron Cowan and UC postdoctoral researcher Lyndsay Kissell along with the museum's Ann Glasscock and Tamera Muente.

UC geologist Daniel Sturmer uses XRF spectroscopy to study a painting in the style of Italian Renaissance master Bernardo Daddi in the conservation lab of the Taft Museum of Art. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

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