Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

NICAS Colloquium

24Nov2016 12:00 - 13:00


We are very pleased to announce the next edition of the NICAS Colloquium on Thursday 24 November from 12.00 to 13.00 hrs. The colloquium will take place in conference room B of the Atelier Building (Hobbemastraat 22, Amsterdam).

The chair of this colloquium will be Paolo D'imporzano, PhD researcher in the NICAS project Multi-isotopic analysis of early modern art.

The presenters during the colloquium are:

  • Nouchka de Keyser - The potential of MA-XRF scanning for characterizing multi-layered painting techniques: examination of six fruit and flower still-lifes by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684)

Imaging methods with elemental contrasts are of great value for the investigation of historical paintings. They allow for study of sub-surface layers that provide insight into a paintings creation process and the modus operandi of the artist. Macro X-ray Fluorescence scanning (MA-XRF) is currently one of the most important methods to visualize the elemental distribution of a painting. Six paintings by Jan Davidsz. de Heem, from approximately the same period in de Heems career (middle-late) and with similar subject matters and sizes (flower and fruit still life paintings) from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (RMA), Royal fine arts museum in Antwerp (KMSKA) and the Mauritshuis the Hague were studied in depth with MA-XRF scanning. Cross-section analysis, SEM-EDX, surface microscopy and art technical sources were used as benchmark to assess to what extent the interpretation of the chemical distribution images is correct.

Nouchka De Keyser has been a project associate in the Rijksmuseum for the paint sample database since 2015 and is focusing on re-photographing and digitizing all the paint sample documentation of Arie Wallert, (former) scientific researcher of the Rijksmuseum. In September 2016, she obtained a Master’s degree in Conservation and restoration at the University of Antwerp. During her studies she developed a special interest for analytical imaging techniques and wrote her Master’s thesis on the potential of MA-XRF scanning for characterizing multi-layered painting techniques.


  • Maartje Stols-Witlox - Scientific Reasoning in Art (Acronym: SciRe). An introduction into the SciRe project, evaluating evidence in paintings research using a Bayesian approach

Questions of provenance and attribution have long since motivated art historical research. Keeping an overview of information delivered by different specialists and establishing its relative weight is a growing challenge. To help clarify complex situations, the Bayesian framework for interpretation of evidence shows great promise. Introducing this mathematical system to calculate the probability of hypotheses based on various pieces of evidence, will strengthen the scientific basis for (art) historical and scientific studies of art.

Maartje Stols-Witlox is an art historian and paintings conservator. She is currently assistant professor paintings conservation at the University of Amsterdam. Maartje specialises is research into historical recipes for painting materials and for conservation, as well as their reconstruction. Maartje is interested in improving methodologies for research in the field of conservation, which is why she is very glad to be project leader of the NICAS SciRe project. In June 2017, Maartje, together with colleagues from UvA, Utrecht University and Maastricht University organizes a workshop at the Lorentz Center in Leiden, focusing methodologies for Reconstruction, Re-enactment and Replication.

More information about the NICAS Colloquium can be found here.

Published by  NICAS