Between science and art

X-ray of painting on panel. ©National Trust/3DX-Ray

The previous post about the x-raying of furniture at Knole was so enthusiastically received that I thought you might enjoy seeing some more images.

The painting being x-rayed. ©National Trust

The pictures were taken by James Young of 3DX-Ray, working with the National Trust team at Knole.

X-ray of part of sofa. ©National Trust/3DX-Ray

This experiment with x-raying furniture and works of art in situ has been undertaken to help National Trust conservators in assessing the condition the objects are in.

X-ray of sofa leg. ©National Trust/3DX-Ray

But many of you have responded to the ethereal, uncanny beauty of the images.

Chair being x-rayed. ©National Trust

Perhaps this proves that good science is always in some way beautiful, and that beauty is somehow always connected to insight.

X-ray of sofa armrest. ©National Trust/3DX-Ray

The images also expose the material complexity of objects that have been around for several hundred years and have been repaired a number of times.

X-ray of seat. ©National Trust/3DX-Ray

And this is perhaps where the ‘art’ and ‘science’ views will diverge.

X-ray of tunic of torchère figure. ©National Trust/3DX-Ray

Whereas the aesthetes among us will shudder at the crooked nails and massive screws that have been driven into the wooden frames, the conservators will relish the clarity of the images, like doctors examining a particularly interesting patient. 

11 Responses to “Between science and art”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Love this series. While owners may have intruded on the integrity of the chair for purpose of utility, curators need to do no further damage in the name of examination for history. Clear progress.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes it is like non-invasive archaeology, isn’t it?

  3. Barbara Says:

    Pretty nearly perfect…

  4. little augury Says:

    again- they are truly art! the draping on the torchere figure is outstanding. can’t wait for that book.

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Gaye, yes it shows up the excellent carving of the drapery, but renders it poignantly insubstantial – if that is not too pretentious a way of putting it🙂

  6. little augury Says:

    actually , put perfectly- wish I’d said it myself! pgt

  7. Jack Plane Says:

    Thank you for posting the additional X-rays. As before, they are quite the most revealing and artistic images.

  8. James Young Says:

    Glad you like th eimages. Hopefully there will be some more from future work for the National Trust and indeed other similar conservation bodies. If anyone is interested in having some of their own possesions x-rayed then please get in touch – always happy to discuss.

  9. Lizzy F. Says:

    The X-ray of the drapery is leaving me speechless. Gorgeous.

  10. style court Says:

    Emile, what a treat to see more. James’s work is breathtaking. This time around I’m captivated by the fringe on the seat. Sounds like the public will have a chance to have personal pieces x-rayed — brilliant idea!

  11. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thank you all. Yes the metallic threads show up briliantly.

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