Microbes can help to preserve the works of old masters and establish their authenticity

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Collage with examples of samples taken from the surface of the works of old masters

Microorganisms located on the surface of the works of old masters can change the rules of the game when authenticating and preserving works of art from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and other periods and eras. A team of American specialists from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) came up with this conclusion. This is a well-known research center affiliated with the Institute for Genomic Research.

The study, called the “first large-scale study on the basis of genomics to understand the microbial communities associated with the aging of works of art,” used samples taken from the surfaces of works created mainly during the Renaissance and held in private collections in Florence.

According to the findings of scientists, microorganisms that have accumulated on the surface of the work over the long years of its existence, have a unique composition that helps, with its careful analysis and fixation, to identify fake and confirm the authenticity of a particular painting or sculpture.

In addition, their properties can be used to preserve and prevent the destruction of colorful or the other surface layer of a work of art. Moreover, with certain data, you can even restore the displacement map of a work. Scientists claim that when an object moves from one region to another, its surface is inevitably colonized with bacteria characteristic of the new region.

Similar studies may also be useful in authenticating the work. Modern technologies make it possible to take DNA samples of their author from the surface of the work. This method could certainly answer the question about the authenticity of some of the works attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, as historians know the exact place of his burial in the castle of Amboise in France.

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