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About The Met/ Conservation and Scientific Research/ Paintings Conservation/ Research Projects
Detail of a painting by Gustave Courbet. The work was finished in 1852 and shows the artist’s three sisters strolling in a valley. They wear French country style dresses. The woman in the center holds a white parasol, while the others wear hats to protect them from the sun.

Research Projects

Read project abstracts from featured research activities within Paintings Conservation.

The Death of Socrates: New Discoveries

Technical examination of Jacques Louis David’s masterpiece reveals that the refinements seen in the artist’s preparatory drawings didn’t end when he began painting—rather, they continued through all stages of its execution.

Refashioning the Lavoisiers

A team of experts from across The Met gains new understanding of Jacques Louis David’s iconic portrait.

Scientific Discoveries in Johannes Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid Put Perennial Misunderstandings To Rest

Scientists, a conservator, and an art historian at The Met, The Frick Collection, and the Doerner Institut team up to investigate changes to the composition and the discoloration of some paint passages.

Revealing Madame X

Researchers at The Met describe methods used to uncover the artist John Singer Sargent's creative process.

Conserving the Giovanni di Paolo Altarpiece

Follow the two-year-long conservation treatment of the Madonna and Child with Saints altarpiece (1454) by Giovanni di Paolo, which hadn't been treated since it came into The Met collection in 1932.

Cezanne's Card Players

In preparation for the 2011 exhibition Cézanne's Card Players, organized in collaboration with the Courtauld Gallery, we investigated the creation of this series of masterpieces through technical examination.

Stanley Spencer's King's Cookham Rise

Stanley Spencer's King's Cookham Rise (1947) came to the studio to be examined and treated in preparation for an exhibition; a non-original varnish that had discolored over time and imparted a yellow cast as well as an overly saturated and glossy appearance was removed.

Examining the Adoration of the Magi

The Metropolitan's Adoration of the Magi (71.100) was painted in the southern Netherlands, probably in Antwerp, at the end of the fifteenth century, but little else is known regarding the circumstances of its creation. A recent conservation treatment provided the opportunity to examine the painting and to investigate the stages of its production.

Italian Renaissance Frames

Pictures have always been required to live unobtrusively among furnishings of a period not their own, and frames have always been the vehicle enabling them to do so. Browse this richly illustrated essay on the structure, design, materials, and styles of Renaissance frames.

Circle of Hugo van der Goes, Portrait of a Man

On arrival at the Museum for examination in October 2008, this painting's paper support was extremely brittle and delaminating from the wooden panel: a direct consequence of the work having been kept in an uncontrolled environment for many years.

Investigation of Heavy-Metal Soap Deterioration in Oil Paintings

A major goal of this project is to determine the causes and mechanisms of a degradation process in traditional oil paintings known as soap formation.

Investigating the Formation and Structure of Lead Soaps in Traditional Oil Paintings

Lead and other heavy metal soaps have been detected and reported to be the cause of deterioration in hundreds of oil paintings dating from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. Understanding the nature of the chemical processes gives art conservators information on ways to slow, stop, and prevent the deterioration of unique works of art.

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Conservation at The Met

The Metropolitan Museum houses a world-renowned complex of scientific research and conservation facilities, each of which serves as a training ground for conservators across a variety of specializations from around the world. This project list provides a small sample of conservation research activities across the Museum.