about the episode
An international team of scientists is on the project Night watch operation lead formate. This is the first time this compound has been found in chemical research on historical paintings. This discovery may provide new insight into the technique of painting in the seventeenth century and the history of the preservation of the masterpiece.
The research team combined different methods to determine the chemical composition of the Night’s Watch at the micrometer level. Researchers believe that the lead compound originated in the linseed oil Rembrandt used. The idea is that it contains dissolved lead oxide, which is meant to improve the drying properties of the oil.
So she recreated the paint in the laboratory using the original historical formulas and was able to confirm the formation of lead formate in the leaded linseed oil paint system. The formation of formate on a microscopic scale is again related to the presence of lead oxide and this allowed them to form new hypotheses about possible formate chemistry in ancient paint layers.
The next step for the team is to further study the origin of the formate and see if it could also have come from previous restoration treatments of The Night’s Watch.
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