Point of departure for the exhibition is the research project “Painting Techniques in Impressionism and Postimpressionism”, which was launched in 2005. Under the direction of the Conservation Department at the Wallraf, a team of experts (conservators, scientists and art historians), backed by renowned specialists from all around the world, investigated some seventy paintings from the museum’s own collection. Using the latest technologies, combined with a detective’s nose, the researchers not only looked at but also into and even through precious paintings. This allowed them to analyse for instance the different ways the works came into being, to examine the natural signs of age, or to pinpoint deliberate manipulations. With this exhibition, the Wallraf presents one fascinating finding after another from this thrilling research work. To round off the exhibition, the curators have traced the route from sensory perception, to the actual materials used, to the “location” either in the artist’s studio or in the open air, as well as the painting techniques and the work’s genesis up until its reception and later preservation.

Left: Vincent van Gogh, “Drawbridge at Arles”, 1888, oil on canvas, 49.5 x 64.5 cm,
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud

Right: Infrared reflectogram of “Drawbridge at Arles”: the under-drawing made visible by infrared rays includes the guidelines of the perspective frame (in red).