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About The Met/ Conservation and Scientific Research/ Paintings Conservation/ Collaborations


Van Gogh's Olive Grove Paintings

In collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum and Dallas Museum of Art
Two images side by side. At left, a macro XRF instrument scans the surface of a painting by van Gogh depicting olive groves. The painting is on an easel and sits on its right side. At right, a detail of Women Picking Olives by Vincent Van Gogh, depicting three women collecting olives in clay jugs set against a heavily impastoed pink sky and purple fields.

The Met's spectacular holdings of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh include Olive Trees and Women Picking Olives, part of a series of fifteen painted in the summer and fall of 1889 around the asylum of Saint Remy where the artist was a voluntary patient. The series is the subject of the upcoming exhibition, "Van Gogh and the Olive Groves", organized by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and the Dallas Museum of Art.

A key component of the exhibition's research has been a collaborative conservation and science initiative: institutions that house this group of paintings have conducted extensive technical examinations to address questions about chronology, materials and techniques, and color change over time. The findings will feature prominently in the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue. The collaborative initiative began with a meeting at the Van Gogh Museum and a second, interim meeting was held at The Met and the Museum of Modern Art in October 2019.

Read more about the initiative from the Dallas Museum of Art

Meet the collaborators of "Van Gogh and the Olive Groves"
A large group of men and women looking at four paintings on easels stationed in a Museum gallery. A conservator stands at the left of one of the paintings making a presentation to the crowd. The oak floor is set in a herringbone pattern and the walls are white with gray trim.

Met Museum staff involved in the project:
- Charlotte Hale, Conservator, Department of Paintings Conservation
- Silvia A. Centeno, Research Scientist, Department of Scientific Research
- Susan Alyson Stein, Engelhard Curator, Department of European Paintings

Co-curators of the exhibition:
- Nicole R. Myers, The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Senior Curator of European Art, Dallas Museum of Art
- Nienke Bakker, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Van Gogh Museum

Coordinator of conservation and scientific research for the exhibition:
- Kathryn Pilz, Paintings Conservator at Van Gogh Museum

APPEAR (Ancient Panel Paintings: Examination, Analysis, and Research) Project

In collaboration with Paul Getty Museum's Department of Antiquities Conservation
Two images side by side. At left, a Fayum portrait of a woman wearing a gilded laurel wreath on her head. The portrait is being examined under a microscope with a strong task light shining on it. At right, a detail of the portrait with half of the face under normal light. The other half shows a false color image visualizing the elements within the pigments present in the paint layers.

The APPEAR (Ancient Panel Paintings: Examination, Analysis, and Research) Project investigates ancient panel paintings to increase the understanding of their materials and manufacture. Launched by the J. Paul Getty Museum's Department of Antiquities Conservation in 2013, this international collaboration addresses the multitude of questions that surround ancient panel paintings—primarily mummy portraits, as well as related artifacts including shrouds, shrines, and complete portrait mummies.

Read more about the collaboration from the J. Paul Getty Museum