This painting was stolen from the museum in 2002. After disappearing for 14 years, it finally came home. But it was damaged: a large piece of paint was missing in the bottom left corner, exposing the canvas underneath.
The museum’s conservator restored the painting with the help of … a 3D-printer.
A new scanning technique was used to measure the thickness of the paint around the missing piece. It also allowed the area of the missing paint to be measured. Using this information, scientists were able to calculate what the relief of the paint in the bottom left corner would have been. The picture taken in raking light before the robbery also provided important information, of course.
The conservator’s choice
The seascape came back damaged, so it had to be restored. When it turned out that it was technically possible to make a faithful reconstruction of the colour and the relief of the paint, the museum did not hesitate in choosing this option.
The fact that the painting is missing a piece is no longer visible to the naked eye. The illusion of the image remains undisturbed.