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Technology Brings New Life to Old Paintings



From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

More than 400 years ago, the Spanish artist El Greco created a large painting called "Saint Martin and the Beggar". It shows Martin, a Roman soldier, sharing his clothing with a poor man. Experts believe someone covered the famous painting with a clear protective covering of varnish in the 1940s. But the substance has changed the look of the painting. Art conservators at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C are working to repair the painting. They have been preparing it for a series of shows marking the 100th anniversary of El Greco's death.

Ann Hoenigswald is the lead conservator at the National Gallery of Art. She carefully cleans the painting millimeter by millimeter. She says the artwork needed treatment because the varnish had turned yellow. The yellow varnish changed the appearance of the colors El Greco used. Before the repairs began, scientists used microscopes, special infrared cameras and even x-rays to see if the painting had been damaged or changed. These imaging tools let them see below the top layer of paint. It showed how El Greco made changes to the painting.

Ann Hoenigswald has worked on Saint Martin and the Beggar for about a year. Her work has helped bring back the painting's beauty. After cleaning the painting, she used varnish created in a laboratory to protect it. This synthetic varnish will not change in color. The National Gallery of Art is sending El Greco's artwork to the Museum of Santa Cruz in Toledo, Spain. EL Greco created the painting of Saint Martin in Toledo. The painting will be included in an exhibit marking the anniversary of the artist's death.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carla Babb.