Belgium (Universiteit Antwerpen) MAXRPD Scanning Vermeer

AXIS involved in major discoveries on Vermeer’s painting The Milkmaid

​​A major Vermeer exhibition will launch in 2023 at the Rijksmuseum showing at least 27 paintings from the small oeuvre of about 35 works by Johannes Vermeer, coming from museums around the world. Before the start of the exhibition, several of Vermeer’s iconic works, such as The Milkmaid, are being investigated by a team of conservators, restorers and scientists from the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis  (press release Rijksmuseum). Next to state-of-the-art scientific techniques, such as Macroscopic X-ray fluorescence mapping (MA-XRF) and Reflectance Imaging Spectroscopy (RIS), also Macroscopic X-ray diffraction (MA-XRPD) is performed using a unique instrument developed within the AXIS research group (University of Antwerp).

With their MA-XRPD scanner the AXIS group  examined a series of Vermeer paintings within the Rijksmuseum, including The Milkmaid and The Love Letter, not only to look at the original pigments and paintings techniques used by Vermeer but also to search for clues in order to understand the discoloration phenomena that take place in these works of art since their completion 350 years ago. From the Mauritshuis collection, two paintings by Vermeer were previously examined with MA-XRPD: Girl with a Pearl Earring and Diana and her Nymphs.


Upon the request of the world famous Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (Austria), also MA-XRPD scans of Vermeer’s “The Art of Painting” are planned.