Quality Exclusives

Off-Topic Case Study: Authenticating Art

January 1, 2010
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With a fiberscope borescope system, conservators from the Philadelphia Museum of Art were able to determine the authenticity of a terra cotta bust on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

A borescope was used to inspect the interior of a terra cotta portrait bust on display in the galleries of the Louvre and determine its authenticity. Source: Lenox Instrument Co.


Conservators of sculpture from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Andrew Lins and Melissa Meighan, traveled to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France to examine the working techniques of the major 18th century French artist, Jean-Antoine Houdon, who sculpted portraits of famous American patriots including George Washington, John Paul Jones and Ben Franklin. The conservators, pursuing their research on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s portrait of Ben Franklin, recently used a Lenox Universal Inspector Borescope System from Lenox Instruments to examine the interior of a terra cotta portrait bust on display in the galleries of the Louvre. The borescope and its digital camera allowed Meighan and Lins to see and document the fingerprints and tool marks left from manufacture and fired into the clay, and allowed them to determine if the sculpture was the original modeled by the artist himself, or if it was made of clay hand pressed into a mold taken from an original.

The fiberoptic borescope system used by the conservators allows different viewing angles or lengths with thread-on extensions as needs change. This modular system can fulfill the functions of up to 18 conventional rigid borescopes in one affordable borescope inspection system. The base package for the borescope includes an eyepiece assembly, focus control, universal scope and either an interchangeable objective head or rotatable objective sleeve. The working scope length can be extended to as much as 60 inches with tread-on extensions.

Six viewing heads are available and allow inspection via direct, right angle, forward oblique or retrospective viewing angles with 10-degree to 85-degree fields of view. 360-degree, rotatable, objective sleeves are available with right angle, forward oblique or retrospective viewing angles.


Benefits

  • With the Universal Inspector Borescope System from Lenox Instrument Co., conservators from the Philadelphia Museum of Art were able to determine the authenticity of a terra cotta bust on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

  • The fiberoptic borescope system used by the conservators allows different viewing angles or lengths with thread-on extensions as needs change. This modular system can fulfill the functions of up to 18 conventional rigid borescopes in one affordable borescope inspection system.

  • The borescope and its digital camera allowed Meighan and Lins to see and document the fingerprints and tool marks left from manufacture and fired into the clay, and allowed them to determine if the sculpture was the original modeled by the artist himself, or if it was made of clay hand pressed into a mold taken from an original.

    Lenox Instrument Co.
    (215) 322-9990
    www.lenoxinst.com
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