It appears that some of Van Gogh’s paintings will be changing colors. Recent X-ray analysis (chemical mapping) determined that the artist used two types of chrome yellow paint … one of which is more sensitive to light. Over time, the areas in which the light-sensitive yellow was used will begin to lose their vibrancy. For all we know, Van Gogh did this on purpose … allowing the viewer to experience the life cycle of a sunflower — over a couple of hundred years!! In addition, the artist used emerald green and red lead paint that will begin to lighten over time. Now researchers need to determine the best way to hopefully slow down the process.
Van Gogh was not the only artist to use light-sensitive colors, so this research will provide a great deal of useful information to other museums, collectors, and conservators.