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painting original colors


Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles is getting a digital makeover to show what it would have looked like before its colors faded, Chicago scientists say.

The artist painted three versions of this famous scene, using broadly the same color scheme.

However, time and light degradation have taken their toll on the pigments.

Using a variety of techniques, Chicago researchers have digitally restored the light blue walls and door to their original lilac and purple.


The computer visualization is part of a major new exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago, which brings together all three versions for only the second time since Van Gogh produced them.Van Gogh Bedroom Art Institute Chicago

It is hoped visitors to the exhibition will get a deeper sense of the emotions the 19th Century artist was trying to convey in the works.

“Science is vital in identifying the pigments that have faded, but then there is a lot of interpretation that we rely on from conservators and art historians who really know the hand of the artist, and know how to dial that virtual knob more or less,” explained Dr. Francesca Casadio, Mellon Senior Conservation Scientist at the Chicago institute.

“This is just a visualization of what we think the faded colors looked like, but barring the invention of a time machine it will always still be an approximation.”

Dr. Francesca Casadio was speaking here in Washington at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the bedrooms permanently in its collection. The other two are normally held at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.