Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Synchrotron Radiat. 2008 Jan;15(Pt 1):55-61. Epub 2007 Dec 18.

Relics in medieval altarpieces? Combining X-ray tomographic, laminographic and phase-contrast imaging to visualize thin organic objects in paintings.

Author information

  • 1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands.


X-ray radiography is a common tool in the study of old master paintings. Transmission imaging can visualize hidden paint layers as well as the structure of the panel or canvas. In some medieval altarpieces, relics seem to have been imbedded in the wooden carrier of paintings. These are most probably thin organic fibrous materials such as paper or textile, which in traditional radiography are shadowed by the more absorbing surrounding material. This paper studies the application potential of synchrotron-based tomographic and laminographic imaging complemented with phase-contrast imaging for detection of such relics. The techniques are applied to a dummy painting. The results demonstrate that by using these imaging methods it is possible to three-dimensionally visualize hidden cavities in panels and detect thin fibrous low-Z materials sandwiched between a high-Z paint layer and a thick wooden panel.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for International Union of Crystallography
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk