Exclusive extract: the Art Detectives

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The Art Detectives


Meet the technology uncovering the history of the world’s artwork


Last year, a painting by the legendary Leonardo da Vinci sold for the record-breaking price of $450.3 million (around £320 million). Entitled Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), for most of its life it was assumed this portrait of Christ was a copy. It wasn’t until a team of researchers at New York University successfully analysed the piece in 2007 that the artwork’s origins were revealed. Technological advances in the art conservation and restoration industry allow academics to truly dig into the history of art and preserve it correctly. Restoration is vital in ensuring the longevity of artwork for future generations, but in order to save them, they must first be investigated.

Earlier this year we visited the University of Lincoln, which is home to the UK’s largest centre for conservation and restoration studies. Deep in the heart of a building full of aspiring art students, extensive hallways lead to an unassuming series of high-tech laboratories. These purpose-built labs are full of ingenious technologies designed to sni out the secrets of their subjects. Here, inquisitive minds are busy unravelling the histories and mysteries of paintings, sculptures, artefacts and more. Dr Lynda Skipper (senior lecturer and programme leader from the school of history and heritage) and her colleagues shone some light on these pieces of technology in a tour of their impressive workspaces…



Extract from The Art Detectives by Scott Dutfield. Featured in How It Works 111.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of issue 111 today. How It Works is available from all good newsagents, at My Favourite Magazines, or via the How It Works app on the App Store or Google Play.

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