Changes in the visual appearance of polychrome wood caused by (accelerated) aging
Sidorov O., Hardeberg JY., George S., Harvey JS., Smithson HE.
© 2020, Society for Imaging Science and Technology. This work takes a step towards understanding fundamental aspects of appearance change in cultural heritage. Particularly, we concentrate on the case study of the Hedal Madonna - a polychrome wood sculpture dated to the mid-1200s, and an important object of ecclesiastical art and Norwegian heritage. It is covered with a layered coating that gives rise to complex reflective properties and gives the sculpture a unique appearance. We studied the goniometric, spectral, and chromatic properties of mock-ups manufactured according to medieval techniques, and also carried out accelerated aging. We compared the properties of aged and original mock-ups, and found non-trivial changes in polychrome appearance. While the color of the mock-ups did not change significantly, we observed a noticeable change in their glossiness, presumably caused by structural degradation of the surface. We also found a difference in the goniometric properties of the polychrome material's reflectance as a function of angle. Reflectance distributions that were originally symmetric with respect to angle became asymmetric. These findings will help to understand the original appearance of the Hedal Madonna, as well as aiding the design of appropriate conservation conditions for both the original statue and its recent reconstruction.