Digital image processing of the Ghent altarpiece: supporting the painting's study and conservation treatment


In this article, we show progress in certain image processing techniques that can support the physical restoration of the painting, its art-historical analysis, or both. We show how analysis of the crack patterns could indicate possible areas of overpaint, which may be of great value for the physical restoration campaign, after further validation. Next, we explore how digital image inpainting can serve as a simulation for the restoration of paint losses. Finally, we explore how the statistical analysis of the relatively simple and frequently recurring objects (such as pearls in this masterpiece) may characterize the consistency of the painter’s style and thereby aid both art-historical interpretation and physical restoration campaign.