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Aert van der Neer, A Frozen Waterway with Villagers Playing Kolf and Skating and a Horsedrawn Sleigh

Aert van der Neer, A Frozen Waterway with Villagers Playing Kolf and Skating and a Horsedrawn Sleigh (mid 17th Century), oil on oak panel [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Apr 30-Sep 18] McMaster Museum of Art

The Unvarnished Truth:
Exploring the Material History of Paintings

Art Gallery of Alberta
Edmonton AB – Apr 30-Sep 18, 2016

Circle of Jan Gossart (called Mabuse), Unknown, portrait of a man

Circle of Jan Gossart (called Mabuse), Unknown, portrait of a man (c. 1520), oil on oak panel [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Apr 30-Sep 18] McMaster Museum of Art

Unknown, in the manner of Edwaert Collier, Untitled Trompe L’Oeil

Unknown, in the manner of Edwaert Collier, Untitled Trompe L’Oeil, (n.d.), oil on canvas [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Apr 30-Sep 18] McMaster Museum of Art

Workshop of Adriaen Brower, The Drinker/The Bitter Draught
Workshop of Adriaen Brower, The Drinker/The Bitter Draught (c. 1635-1638), oil on oak panel on oak cradle [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Apr 30-Sep 18] McMaster Museum of Art

While much of our world continues to promote a bottom-line, ends-over-means reality, it is comforting to know that we still have artists and scientists to remind us that what we see is often only the surface of things, that if our eyes really knew what they are looking at, they would thank our brains for telling them. In The Unvarnished Truth, that surface is painting.

Conceived by McMaster University’s Brandi Lee MacDonald, The Unvarnished Truth brings together experts in applied radiation sciences, biomedical engineering, conservation and forensic art history to examine the material bases of nine historical paintings from the McMaster Museum of Art collection. The result is new narratives, new layers of meaning.

Of note in this exhibition is the project’s thoughtful and far-reaching selection of works, which range from 16th century portraits to 20th century constructivist abstractions. In one example, viewers are treated to the chemical breakdown of Jan Gossaert’s Untitled, Portrait of a Man (circa 1520). Here, we learn that the painting has been scanned by an Olympus Innov-X Delta Premium model handheld XRF and that the sitter and his surroundings are composed of iron, mercury, lead, copper and calcium elements – “typical of those used by a painter active in that time period.”

Michael Turner

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Alexei von Jawlensky, Murnau Landscape with Three Haystacks

Alexei von Jawlensky, Murnau Landscape with Three Haystacks (1908-1909), oil on cardboard [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Apr 30-Sep 18] McMaster Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh, Untitled, Still Life: Ginger Pot and Onions
Vincent van Gogh, Untitled, Still Life: Ginger Pot and Onions (1885), oil on canvas [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Apr 30-Sep 18] McMaster Museum of Art


 Thu, Jun 9, 2016