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Volume: 31 | Article ID: art00003
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Recreating Van Gogh’s original colors on museum displays
  DOI :  10.2352/ISSN.2470-1173.2019.14.COLOR-077  Published OnlineJanuary 2019
Abstract

The colors of Van Gogh’s landscape painting Field with Irises near Arles have changed considerably. To digitally reconstruct its original colors, we use an unprecedented broad scientific analysis and experimental art technological approach, by physically reconstructing oil paints of all pigments used by Van Gogh. We closely match the original paints, and for the first time determine all the optical properties involved. The investigation led to a digital image representing the original colors as good as possible.We found that for the digital color reconstruction it is important to take into account that museum lighting is often relatively dark in order to better preserve paintings. Since this affects the best way of representing the reconstructed colors on the display, we adapted the digital reconstructed image. We also corrected for the technical specifications of the electronic display on which the reconstructions will be displayed in the museum.Based on the reconstruction we conclude that the original colors in the painting used to be much brighter, and agreed much better with Van Gogh’s own description of the color composition of this painting. We show that unlike the current colors of the painting, the reconstructed colors are consistent with the color theories on which Van Gogh based his work.

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Eric Kirchner, Muriel Geldof, Ella Hendriks, Art Ness Proaño Gaibor, Koen Janssens, John Delaney, Ivo van der Lans, Frank Ligterink, Luc Megens, Teio Meedendorp, Kathrin Pilz, "Recreating Van Gogh’s original colors on museum displaysin Proc. IS&T Int’l. Symp. on Electronic Imaging: Color Imaging XXIV: Displaying, Processing, Hardcopy, and Applications,  2019,  pp 77-1 - 77-6,  https://doi.org/10.2352/ISSN.2470-1173.2019.14.COLOR-077

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