IR reflectography and active thermography on artworks: The added value of the 1.5-3 μm band

Jeroen Peeters, Geert Van der Snickt, Stefano Sfarra, Stijn Legrand, Clemente Ibarra-Castanedo, Koen Janssens, Gunther Steenackers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Infrared Radiation (IR) artwork inspection is typically performed through active thermography and reflectography with different setups and cameras. While Infrared Radiation Reflectography (IRR) is an established technique in the museum field, exploiting mainly the IR-A (0.7-1.4 μm) band to probe for hidden layers and modifications within the paint stratigraphy system, active thermography operating in the IR-C range (3-5 μm) is less frequently employed with the aim to visualize structural defects and features deeper inside the build-up. In this work, we assess to which extent the less investigated IR-B band (1.5-3 μm) can combine the information obtained from both setups. The application of IR-B systems is relatively rare as there are only a limited amount of commercial systems available due to the technical complexity of the lens coating. This is mainly added as a so-called broadband option on regular Mid-wave infrared radiation (MWIR) (IR-C'/3-5 μm) cameras to increase sensitivity for high temperature applications in industry. In particular, four objects were studied in both reflectographic and thermographic mode in the IR-B spectral range and their results benchmarked with IR-A and IR-C images. For multispectral application, a single benchmark is made with macroscopic reflection mode Fourier transform infrared (MA-rFTIR) results. IR-B proved valuable for visualisation of underdrawings, pencil marks, canvas fibres and wooden grain structures and potential pathways for additional applications such as pigment identification in multispectral mode or characterization of the support (panels, canvas) are indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Active thermography
  • Artwork inspection
  • IR reflectography
  • MA-rFTIR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

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