(Netherlands) – Scientists use old LED data to highlight why some yellow colours in Vincent van Gogh’s paintings are turning brown due to lighting exposure. Findings sensationalised by mainstream press.
It has been known for some time that the light yellow tones in Vincent van Gogh’s paintings are particularly prone to darkening, but now an international team of scientists have produced a report which suggests that the blue bandwidth in lighting could be to blame.
The experiments were apparently carried out using a Xenon lamp high in UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C wavelengths. Unfortunately the research group, which included scientists from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam amongst others, chose to highlight the danger of LED lighting by publishing a spectral distribution chart from a six year old LED system with a particularly high blue bandwidth. The chart is labelled ‘Emission spectrum of a typical „white“ LED, containing a substantial portion of harmful blue light’.
Even more unfortunately, the report was jumped on by media all over the world printing misleading headlines that LEDs were harmful to van Gogh paintings. Articles quickly appeared in the Daily Mail and The Independent in the UK and the Huffington Post in the USA.