Media release

AkzoNobel completes digital color recreation of famous Van Gogh painting

June 19, 2018

Color experts at AkzoNobel have completed the digital recreation of a Van Gogh masterpiece. The three-year project endeavoured to get as close as possible to reconstructing the original color scheme used by the artist when he first made the painting.

By adopting a fusion of modern technology and classic painting techniques, it has been possible to carry out a digital color recreation of Field with Irises near Arles. Because modern conservation ethics won’t allow new color to be added, a digital version was the only way to recreate the original painting.

Employing expertise from the company’s Color Technology Group – and using technology normally applied in the automotive industry – a diverse team of researchers from various disciplines and institutions has been meticulously analyzing digital images of the painting. After hundreds of hours of painstaking work, they’ve now finished matching Van Gogh’s original palette to produce a digital color reconstruction which provides a better understanding of the brightness of the painting’s original colors.

“As global experts in color and a world leader in digital color matching, we know how much color matters,” said AkzoNobel CEO Thierry Vanlancker. “We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver consistently accurate paints and coatings that provide lasting color performance, so we’re very pleased to have partnered with the Van Gogh Museum to digitally recreate a Van Gogh masterpiece.”

Added Axel Rüger, Director of the Van Gogh Museum: “We are delighted with this partnership. AkzoNobel leads the way in color expertise and inspiration and for that reason it’s a fantastic match. Color for Vincent van Gogh meant emotion and it is that aspect which inspires millions of people around the globe to visit us.”

Attention to detail has been rigorous throughout the project. It began with the company’s color experts studying digital images to determine the pigment composition of the original – using data supplied by the National Gallery in Washington.

The museum’s former head of conservation, Ella Hendriks, then started to remove the yellowed varnish layer from the painting itself (applied after Van Gogh’s death). This confirmed that the color predictions were accurate and paved the way for the full digital color recreation. Vincent Van Gogh painted Field with Irises near Arles in 1888 and it now hangs in the museum in Amsterdam.

AkzoNobel has been a proud partner of the Van Gogh Museum’s restoration studio since 2013. The company’s color experts and Sikkens brand have also helped design two major exhibitions at the venue, including the ongoing Van Gogh and Japan exhibition, which runs until June 24.

AkzoNobel not only contributes to the preservation of existing heritage, but also supports the heritage of the future through the collection and exhibition of contemporary visual art in the publicly accessible AkzoNobel Art Space. Read more about our Art Foundation:

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