Four paintings from the Dutch Golden Age in the Rijksmuseum Twenthe

The tower of Babel, Hendrik van Cleve III, second half of 16th century
Skaters on the IJssel near Kampen, Barend Avercamp, third quarter of 17th century
Landscape with Farm , Salomon van Ruysdael, third quarter of 17th century
Steep Riverbank, Guillaume Dubois, 17th century

All recorded at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Netherlands

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De toren van Babel (The Tower of Babel ), Hendrik van Cleve III, second half of 16th century, oil on panel, 53 x 73 cm, in the collections of the Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, on loan from the Oudheidkamer 'Riessen', Rijssen, inv. BR0001 (R439) © Rijksmuseum Twenthe

Paradoxically, one of the most valuable qualities of facsimiles and replicas can be that they are not as valuable as the original objects – meaning that there is much greater freedom to handle them or to move them from one place to another.

The project to record four 16th- and 17th-century Dutch paintings in the Rijksmuseum Twenthe in the Netherlands will allow replicas of the paintings made by Océ – A Canon Company to take the place of the originals in the Rijssens Museum, the institution to which the paintings belong. The digitised paintings show the Tower of Babel, Skaters on the IJssel near Kampen, a Landscape with Farm, and a Steep Riverbank. This project is also an exciting step in Factum Foundation’s ongoing collaborative relationship with Océ.


Recording the paintings with Océ's Elevated Printing Technology

Factum Foundation recorded the 3D surface data for the paintings using the Lucida 3D Scanner, and the colour data using panoramic photography. The Lucida 3D Scanner, made by Manuel Franquelo in collaboration with Factum Foundation, uses two cameras to record the distortions of a laser as it passes over a low-relief surface, transforming this 3D information into a depth map which can later be used to replicate the surface’s topography. Colour is notoriously difficult to reproduce accurately using photography, but Factum Foundation has perfected the use of panoramic photography as a tool for assessing the ‘true’ colours of an artwork: we use digital tools and the human eye to compare the colours of the work’s surface with both industry-standard X-Rite ColourChecker Passports and a much larger range of Pantone swatches of known RGB/CMYK value.

The Lucida 3D Laser Scanner digitising Skaters on the IJssel near Kampen by Barend Avercamp at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe © Rijksmuseum Twenthe

Guendalina Damone of Factum Foundation scanning Salomon van Ruysdael's Landscape with Farm © Factum Foundation

The data from the Lucida and panoramic photography recordings was processed at Factum Foundation’s Madrid studio before being sent on to Océ in the Netherlands. The files sent by the Foundation contained the information required to precisely register the colour data to the relief data, allowing Océ to use its elevated printing technology to print out full colour reproductions of the four paintings. The data was fed into their Elevated Print Raster Imaging Processor, which created a stack of image files to be printed one on top of the other, resulting in a relief surface whose top layers reproduced the colours of the original paintings. Océ’s printer deposits pigment in layers of 2-40 µm, curing the pigment on deposition using UV light to produce relief surfaces of up to 5mm in height.


Reproducing the paintings in the Rijksmuseum Twenthe

Océ’s elevated printing technology has in recent years played a vital role in creating the low-relief surfaces used as part of the facsimile-making process, offering higher-resolution reproduction than other fabrication methods such as CNC milling. The relationship has been mutually productive: Factum Foundation’s input has helped Océ to push the limits of their technology, resulting in several projects which have broken new ground for both parties. The Foundation usually uses Océ’s prints for surface relief, employing its own in-house printer to replicate colour, but on two recent projects Océ has used Factum Foundation's data to print their own colour reproductions of paintings. In December 2018 the Foundation collaborated with Océ to produce a 3D reproduction of Rembrandt’s Portrait of an Elderly Man, a painting whose original is now in the Mauritshuis, and Océ also reproduced both colour and relief for the four paintings scanned at Twente.

Printing De toren van Babel (The Tower of Babel ) by Hendrik van Cleve III with Océ's Elevated Printing Technology © Océ – A Canon Company

Printing tests at Océ's facilities © Océ – A Canon Company


Exhibiting the paintings in the Rijssens Museum

The finished reproductions will be sent to the Rijssens Museum, where they will join other objects from the Van Heel Collection, left to the museum by the jute manufacturer M.G. van Heel (1876-1950). While the collection has been under the guardianship of the Rijksmuseum Twenthe since the bequest was made, a new initiative has seen many of the objects left by van Heel exhibited as part of the permanent display in the Rijssens Museum. The reproductions made by Océ with Factum Foundation's data will set the pace for more vital parts of this puzzle to be fitted into place. 


With thanks to Gerrit Dannenberg at the Rijssens Museum, Ingeborg Smit at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe and Clemens Weijkamp, Joachim Lamers and Raymond op het Roodt at Océ - A Canon Company.

The team at Factum Foundation consisted of Carlos Bayod, Teresa Casado, Guendalina Damone, Anna Paola Ferrara, and Gabriel Scarpa.

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