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Rembrandt couldn’t decide whether to depict a rich man who commissioned a portrait standing up, or on his horse. And when he did determine how to show the wealthy gentleman, on horseback, he painted over the original image of the “sitter” standing up. Both portraits appear when the painting is x-rayed. Was canvas so expensive, or did Rembrandt not want a mere commissioned picture crowding out the personal works in his studio?

Nicolas Poussin admired the art of antiquity, which came down to him (and to us) mostly as sculpture. This may be why Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan seems like a sculptural frieze in paint, an odd paradox of permanence and perpetual movement.

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Nothing quite stirs the emotions like walking into a gallery to see an original masterpiece.

Seeing that same piece on a digital screen may not have the same effect until now, but one Spanish group claims iPad art-viewing could give a greater insight than you might think.

Madrid’s famous gallery, Museo del Prado, has released an iOS app that allows you to peel away layers of famous paintings to uncover the intimate, and often frightening, secrets lurking beneath.

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Scholars have discovered a previously unknown portrait by James McNeill Whistler hidden beneath a painting of a bridge over the River Thames from 1862. The subject is thought to be Whistler’s young mistress and model Jo Hiffernan, who lived with the artist in London for five years. Prior to the discovery, experts believed Whistler created only around six portraits of Hiffernan, including the well-known Symphony in White, No. 1: the White Girl, 1862, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

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On November 22, 2013, the Dallas Museum of Art will unveil its new Paintings Conservation Studio as part of the institution’s initiative to create a more comprehensive in-house conservation program. The studio features a digital X-ray system and a center for the study and treatment of artworks as well as research into cutting-edge conservation techniques. The studio, which is enclosed by a glass wall, will be open to visitors so that guests of the museum can observe daily conservation activity.

The opening is accompanied by an exhibition of paintings from the Dallas Museum of Art’s collection including works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Childe Hassam and Julian Onderdonk; the paintings will be on view in the Conservation Gallery, which adjoins the studio. A number of works including a painting Gustave Courbet and a Renaissance portrait by Alessandro Allori will be permanently displayed in the studio.

 Maxwell L. Anderson, the Museum’s Eugene McDermott Director, said, “The launch of these new conservation initiatives supports the Dallas Museum of Art’s commitment to responsible stewardship of our collection, and the advancement of conservation research and practices in the region and across the museum field. We look forward to strengthening the Dallas Museum of Art’s culture of conservation with the opening of this new facility and integrating conservation into the fabric of the Museum experience for the benefit and enjoyment of our community.”

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After a 10-month-long restoration, New York’s Museum of Modern Art has rehung Jackson Pollock’s (1912-1956) One – Number 31, 1950. The painting, which is considered one of the most significant works from the Abstract Expressionist movement, is also one of the finest examples of Pollock’s iconic drip paintings.

The restoration process, which began last July, involved feather dusting the canvas and the removal of decades of dirt that had left the painting with a yellow tinge. MoMA’s conservators used sponges, moist erasers, and cotton swabs to gently cleanse the massive canvas, which measures 9 feet high by 17 ½ feet wide. In addition to the cleaning, conservators closely studied the painting using X-ray and ultraviolet lights.

After thorough analysis of the canvas, conservators discovered that certain portions of One – Number 31, 1950 didn’t mesh with Pollock’s signature style. The sections were texturally unusual and contained different paint than the rest of the canvas. The discovery left conservators baffled as the painting hadn’t been touched since entering the MoMA’s collection 1968 and there was no record of a previous restoration.

It soon came to light that the painting had once belonged to Pollock’s friend, the art dealer Ben Heller, and that the work had been part of a traveling exhibition during the early 1960s. Researchers were able to locate a photo taken by a scholar in 1962 that showed the painting without any of the questionable areas, which meant that the painting was altered after 1962. After examining the canvas with ultraviolet light, conservators discovered tiny cracks under the paint’s surface, leading them to believe that the alteration was an attempt at a repair. Another shocking discovery that resulted from the high-tech analysis was that some of One – Number 31, 1950 was painted while the canvas was hanging on a wall, not laying on the ground as previously believed. The painting’s drips trickle downward, which would have been impossible to achieve if Pollock had created the entire work while standing above it.

The newly restored One – Number 31, 1950 is currently on view on the MoMA’s 4th floor.

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