Abstract

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is an optical interferometric technique developed mainly for in vivo imaging of the eye and biological tissues. In this paper, we demonstrate the potential of OCT for non-invasive examination of museum paintings. Two en-face scanning OCT systems operating at 850 nm and 1300 nm were used to produce B-scan and C-scan images at typical working distances of 2 cm. The 3D images produced by the OCT systems show not only the structure of the varnish layer but also the paint layers and underdrawings (preparatory drawings under the paint layers). The highest ever resolution and dynamic range images of underdrawings are presented and for the first time it is possible to find out non-invasively on which layer the underdrawings were drawn.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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References

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Appl. Opt. (1)

Appl. Spectrosc. (1)

Archaeometry (1)

M.-L. Yang, C.-W. Lu, I.-J. Hsu, C. C. Yang, �??The use of optical coherence tomography for monitoring the subsurface morphologies of archaic jades,�?? Archaeometry 46, 171-182 (2004).
[CrossRef]

ICOM Committee for Conservation (1)

J. H. Townsend, �??The Refractive Index of 19th-Century Paint Media: A Preliminary Study,�?? ICOM Committee for Conservation, Working Group 16, Vol. II, 586, 1993.

J. Biomed. Opt. (2)

W. Drexler, �??Ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography,�?? J. Biomed. Opt. 9, 47-74 (2004).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

A. Gh. Podoleanu, M. Seeger, G. M. Dobre, D. J. Webb, D. A. Jackson and F. Fitzke, �??Transversal and longitudinal images from the retina of the living eye using low coherence reflectometry,�?? J. Biomed. Opt. 3, 12- (1998).
[CrossRef]

Opt. Eng. (1)

D. Paoletti and G. Schirripa Spagnolo, �??Automated digital speckle pattern interferometry contouring in artwork surface inspection,�?? Opt. Eng. 32, 1348-1353 (1993).
[CrossRef]

Opt. Express (2)

Opt. Lett. (1)

Proc. SPIE (1)

H. Liang, M. Gomez Cid, R. Cucu, G. Dobre, D. Jackson, C. Pannell, J. Pedro, D. Saunders, A. Podoleanu, �??Application of OCT to examination of easel paintings,�?? Second European Workshop on Optical Fibre Sensors, Proc. SPIE 5502, 378-381 (2004).
[CrossRef]

Reviews in Conservation (2)

N. Khandekar, �??Preparation of cross-sections from easel paintings,�?? Reviews in Conservation 4, 52-64 (2003).

D. Ambrosini and D. Paoletti, �??Holographic and speckle methods for the analysis of panel paintings. Developments since the early 1970s,�?? Reviews in Conservation 5, 38-48 (2005).

Science (1)

D. Huang, E. A. Swanson, C. P. Lin, J. S. Schuman, W. G. Stinson, W. Chang, M. R. Hee, T. Flotte, K. Gregory, C. A. Puliafito, J. G. Fujimoto, �??Optical coherence tomography,�?? Science 254, 1178-1181 (1991).
[CrossRef] [PubMed]

Studies in Conservation (3)

J.R.J van Asperen de Boer, �??Reflectography of paintings using an infra-red vidicon television system,�?? Studies in Conservation 14, 96�??118 (1969).
[CrossRef]

D. Bertani, M. Cetica, G. Molesini, �??Holographic tests on the Ghiberti panel, The Life of Joseph,�?? Studies in Conservation 27, 61-64 (1982).
[CrossRef]

P. Targowski, B. Rouba, M. Wojtkowski, and A. Kowalczyk, �??The application of optical coherence tomography to non-destructive examination of museum objects,�?? Studies in Conservation 49, 107-114 (2004).

The articulate surface: dialogues (1)

A. Byrne, �??The structure beneath,�?? in The articulate surface: dialogues on paintings between conservators, curators and art historians, Humanities Research Centre monograph series, No. 10. S. Wallace, J. Macnaughtan and J. Parvey, ed. (Australian National University. Humanities Research Centre, 1996).

The National Gallery Technical Bulletin (1)

J. Padfield, D. Saunders, J. Cupitt, R. Atkinson, �??Improvements in the acquisition and processing of X-ray images of paintings,�?? The National Gallery Technical Bulletin 23, 62-75 (2002).

Thin Solid Film (1)

P. Boher and J. L. Stehle, �??Atomic scale characterization of semiconductors by in-situ real time spectroscopic ellipsometry,�?? Thin Solid Film 318, 120-133 (1998).
[CrossRef]

Tradit. and Innov.: Advances in Conserv. (1)

C. R. T. Young and R. Hibberd, �??The role of attachments in the degradation and strain distribution of canvas paintings,�?? in Traditions and Innovation: Advances in Conservation, (International Institute of Conservation Melbourne Congress October 2000), pp. 212-220.

Other (1)

R. M. A. Azzam, N. M. Bashara, Ellipsometry and Polarized light, (Amsterdam: North Holland, 1977).

Supplementary Material (1)

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Figures (8)

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Optical coherence tomography system architecture for the examination of paintings. SLD = superluminescent diode, IMG = index matching gel

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

A 1300nm OCT image of a mastic varnish layer (on a piece of glass) dating from 1952; the varnish/air and varnish/glass interfaces are clearly delineated. The third (faint) interface is a ghost image or the result of multiple reflections between the varnish/air and varnish/glass interface. The vertical scale represents depth measured in air.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

(a) Sample board of yellow ochre and smalt on a ground layer of chalk and rabbit skin glue. One third of the sample has three coats of dammar varnish applied, and another one third of the painting has 3 coats of mastic varnish applied, leaving the central part of the sample unvarnished; (b) 1300nm OCT image of a cross-section across the yellow ochre/smalt boundary (scan in the middle of the panel; c-d) 850nm OCT images of cross-sections on the yellow ochre/smalt boundary (scan along the bottom line segment) and in the smalt area (scan along the top line segment). The vertical scale represents depth measured in air.

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

(a) A 50-year-old test painting: Point A is covered with the original varnish, which is now yellowed; Point B has the old varnish removed and new varnish applied; Point C is unvarnished; Point D is the boundary between regions where there is just one layer of old varnish and regions where a layer of new varnish was applied on top of the old varnish. (b-d) 1300nm OCT image of Point B, C and D. (e) 850nm OCT cross-section at Point A; The vertical scale represents depth measured in air.

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

(a) An 18th century panel painting; (b) a cross-section image of a scan along the top line-segment marked on the painting; (c) A cross-section image of along the lower line-segment on the painting. Both images were obtained with 1300 nm system.

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

(a) Color images of two painted patch over underdrawings: the top patch has two layers of lead-tin-yellow paint over underdrawings drawn with a quill pen using an ink of bone black in gum; the bottom patch has a mixture of lead white, azurite, bone black painted over a black chalk underdrawing; (b) the corresponding near infrared Vidicon images; (c) the corresponding near infrared images taken with a InGaAs camera; (d) the corresponding 1300 nm OCT images taken at the depth of the underdrawings. The size of the images are ~ 1 cm by 1 cm.

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

(a) Color image of a painted panel: the lower part is painted with an imprimatura (a translucent paint layer) on top of the underdrawing which is painted on a preparatory ground layer, the upper half has an additional paint layer above the imprimatura; (b) average of the top four en-face images collected with the 1300 nm system, i.e. 0–100 μm; (c) average of the next four en-face images (100–200 μm); (d) average of the next seven en-face images (200–375μm); (e) average of the next seven images (375–550μm); f) B-scan image in the white area of the panel showing the underdrawing below the first layer of paint (imprimatura); g) B-scan image in the blue area of the panel showing the underdrawing below two layers of paint.

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

(2.5 MB movie) Volume rendering of the square area indicated on Fig. 3(a) of the test panel painted with smalt and yellow ochre. The scales are 1 mm in depth and 1 cm in the other two dimensions.

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