Van Gogh’s bedroom gets digital makeover

By Beth Nyaga

Scientists in Chicago have produced a visualisation of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, showing what it would have looked like before its colours faded.

The artist painted three versions of this famous scene, using broadly the same colour scheme.

But time and light degradation have taken their toll on the pigments.

Using a variety of techniques, the researchers have digitally restored the light blue walls and door to their original lilac and purple.

The computer visualisation is part of a major new exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago, which brings together all three versions for only the second time since Van Gogh produced them.

It is hoped visitors to the exhibition will get a deeper sense of the emotions the 19th Century artist was trying to convey in the works.

Image copyright THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO Image caption The walls and door in the original look today very blue

The Art Institute has one of the bedrooms permanently in its collection. The other two are normally held at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

The Chicago team knew there was something not quite right with the colours from the information contained in letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, and other artists.

In that correspondence, he sets out very clearly what everything should look like.

The team then set about investigating the rest of the scene, using X-ray techniques that allowed them to interrogate pigments at the atomic level, and so gauge their original “recipe”.

All this information went into the algorithms that make the final representation.

The three versions of the Bedroom in Arles were painted over a period in 1888 and 1889.

The great irony is that conservators know that the walls of the house in Arles were actually white-washed.

Source: BBC Technology



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