Researchers using cutting edge technology have proven that a painting, titled ‘A Haystack in the Evening Sun’, is by the French impressionist painter Claude Monet.
The 1891 painting is owned by Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation in Finland, who acquired it in 1950. It has long been suspected to be an autograph work, but it was unable to be proved due to the lack of a signature.
However, this was precisely what was uncovered when the painting was examined by the mathematical information technology department at the University Jyväskylä. Scanning the painting layer by layer, a hyperspectral camera was able to reveal that Monet’s signature was obscured to the naked eye by a layer of paint. It was also able to identify the painting’s underlying composition.
One researcher explains how it worked: “The hyperspectral camera took an image of 256 different wavelengths simultaneously in the near-infrared region. This wavelength region is not visible to the human eye. Many of the painting’s pigments which have been used and are still used today are there in the wavelength range which is partially and even completely transparent. In this case, the light reflection can be measured from the surface layer and deeper.”
The painting belongs to Monet’s acclaimed ‘Haystack’ series, which depicts the fields near where the artist lived in Giverny, France in different seasons and times of day. Other works from the series are found in Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Scotland and the J. Paul Getty Museum in California.