- Object type
3D facsimile of Joshua Reynolds’ ‘Unfinished Portrait of an Unknown Woman’
- Place Associated
England, London (place made)
3D printed cast acrylic gesso on panel
unframed: 766 mm x 630 mm x 10 mm
This is a 3D facsimile of Unfinished Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Sir Joshua Reynolds (acc. no. 253), a painting which came into the collection as part of the McLellan Bequest in 1856. It was then thought to be a portrait of the famous soprano singer Elizabeth Linley. The attribution to Reynolds was later cast in doubt. This reproduction was commissioned by Bendor Grosvenor and Tern TV from the Madrid-based Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation for the TV series Britain’s Lost Masterpieces (aired BBC4, 7 February 2022).
Convinced that the painting was indeed by Reynolds, Bendor, working with Simon Gillespie's conservation studio in London, carried out research and technical investigation of the painting, undertaking dendrochronology of the wooden panel, analysing microscopic paint samples, examining x-ray and infra-red photography and consulting with other Reynolds experts. They came to the conclusion that the painting is indeed by Reynolds, although disfigured by yellowed varnish.
Reynolds used wax in his paint and layers of varnish between pigments which makes his works very difficult to clean and so advice was sought from conservator and Reynolds specialist Rica Jones, who generously shared her knowledge of Reynolds’ techniques and materials. In the end, after various cleaning tests, the painting was deemed too difficult to clean safely. Instead Bendor commissioned Factum Foundation to undertake a digital restoration so that people could see what the painting might look like without its layers of discoloured varnish. A 3D scan was made of the painting, using Reynolds’ The Ladies Waldegrave (National Galleries Scotland) as a colour comparison. Factum Foundation ended up creating not only a digital but a physical reconstruction of the painting which Bendor then gifted to Glasgow Museums.
This is a description of the process as provided by Factum Foundation:
‘In order to make the facsimile, the surface relief of the painting was prepared digitally and the 3D and colour files were stitched together and aligned with each other, preparing an online viewer.
The digital data of the surface was rematerialised as a physical object using the elevated printing technology developed by Canon Production Printing (CPP), with whom Factum has collaborated over many years. The revolutionary elevated printing method is capable of building up a relief surface in 5-micron layers in order to replicate the exact surface of a painting.
Liquid silicon is then poured over the monochrome (white) relief print to create a mould of its surface. A cast is then made from this mould using a specially prepared acrylic gesso mix. This ‘skin’ forms the surface of the final facsimile. It is prepared and printed in colour on Factum’s purpose-built inkjet colour printer, designed in-house to print in multiple layers across large surfaces. Using a traditional method of registration, the colour and the relief are perfectly aligned, ensuring that the appearance of the facsimile is entirely faithful to the original. Multiple layers of over-printing ensure that the tone and hue of each colour corresponds precisely to the colour of the original.
The finished printed skin is then fixed and stretched to a board, before being varnished.’
This link allows you to compare different digital data sets, using the ‘synchronised view’ function:
- Credit Line/Donor
Gifted by Bendor Grosvenor, 2021
- ID Number
Kelvingrove Looking at Art