New discoveries Ghent Altarpiece revealed

On 20 June the recent discoveries made during the research and conservation of the Ghent Altarpiece were presented to the press. After removing the yellowed varnish the conservators gradually realised that a considerable part of the visible paint layer is in fact overpaint.

These observations were confirmed by analysis of tiny paint samples by the laboratories of the KIK-IRPA, research with the 3D Hirox microscope of Ghent University and MA-XRF research by the University of Antwerp. These analyses were combined with cleaning tests on the paintings to determine whether the overpaint could be removed without causing damage and to evaluate the condition of the original paint layer beneath.


In the light of these findings, the international expert committee recommended the continuatioin of the process of removal of the overpaint. Progress has also been made on the frames.

Following a detailed study, it was decided to remove the overpaint in order to reveal the original polychromy underneath.