Background information and keywords


This page contains a glossary of recurrent terms and names in the articles published as part of the Ensor Research Project

Adri Verburg

Adri Verburg was, for fifteen years, the director of a Paris-based laboratory for colour photography that was the first in Europe to apply the dye-transfer colour photography method. From the late 1980s, he developed a particular interest in the history of photography and in digital photographic applications in the conservation and restoration of paintings, topics on which he publishes and organises exhibitions. In the 1990s he worked as an advisor to the Rijksdienst Kunsthistorische Documentatie Den Haag (RKD) in the Netherlands and helped develop photographic applications in art-historical research. He is a contributor to a number of research projects and exhibition catalogues.

Ensor Research Project

KMSKA aspires to becoming the reference centre for art-historical and material technical research into the oeuvre of James Ensor. The central focus is on the creative process, from concept to finished painting. The research team is made up of art historians Herwig Todts and Nanny Schrijvers, restoration expert Karen Bonne and specialist photographers Adri Verburg and Marie Geraerts. The research findings are submitted for review to an international group of experts.

False colour imaging

False colour imaging often combines images from the visible spectrum, like ordinary colour photographs, with images in wavelengths invisible to the naked eye, such as X-rays, ultraviolet or infrared. The physical properties of the object studied determine the required combination of spectral bands.

Geert Van der Snickt

Geert Van der Snickt obtained a PhD in Conservation and Restoration Studies from the University of Antwerp in 2012 with a thesis on the identification of pigments in Ensor’s paintings using X-ray fluorescence analyses. His research focused on sixty-five Ensor paintings in the collections of KMSKA, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (Brussels) and Mu.Zee in Ostend, as well as in the former Dexia collection (Belfius).

Issue 5 of the museum magazine Zaal Z carries an interview with Van der Snickt about his research.

Geert VAN DER SNICKT, James Ensor’s pigments studied by means of portable and synchrotron radiation-based X-ray techniques: evolution, context and degradation, a PhD thesis in Conservation and Restoration submitted to the University of Antwerp in 2012.

Polarised light

A polarised light (POL) image is a regular high-resolution colour image where the reflection is manipulated in order to obtain a richer, more saturated effect.

Herwig Todts

Herwig Todts organises exhibitions at KMSKA and other venues and publishes on 19th and 20th-century art. His primary field of expertise is the oeuvre of James Ensor. He obtained a PhD from Ghent University in 2013 with a thesis on James Ensor’s perceptions of art and society and the interpretation of his art.

Herwig TODTS, James Ensor, an occasional modernist. A study into James Ensor’s artistic and societal perceptions and the interpretation of his art, a PhD thesis in Art Studies submitted to Ghent University in 2013.

Infrared imaging

Infrared imaging (IR) or, more accurately, infrared charge-coupled device imaging (IR-CCD). Infrared light is electromagnet radiation that is invisible to the naked eye. It has a range of wavelengths from around 780 nanometre to 1 mm (106 nm). Infrared images are produced with an image sensor that is sensitive to lower wavelengths and a filter that blocks visible light. Infrared lies just under red light in the spectrum. Infrared photography is commonly used in conservation treatment to obtain information about the build-up and underdrawing of a painting. It can reveal alterations and additions to compositions.

Infrared-reflection false colour

Infrared-reflection also offers a way of producing false colour images (IRR FC)

Karen Bonne

Karen Bonne obtained a Master’s Degree in Restoration and Conservation Studies from Artesis University College – Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, in 2010. She participated in a research project (BOF – Special Research Fund) into palettes and paint boxes of Belgian artists from between 1850 and 1950, conducted in association with the Chemistry Department of the University of Antwerp. She also worked as an intern with the Painting Laboratory of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (Brussels).


Colour is a property of light that is characterised by the various wavelengths from which light is composed. The human eye can perceive light with an electromagnetic radiation of between 750 and 400 nanometres. The composition of wavelengths is referred to as the spectrum. The perceived colour of a surface depends on the spectrum of light that is reflected by that surface.

Marie Geraerts

Marie Geraerts worked for ten years as an architect before embarking on a training programme in painting restoration at the Academy of Visual Arts in Anderlecht (1994-2000). She subsequently studied Art and Archaeology at the University of Brussels (VUB) (2000-2004) where she wrote a thesis on the wooden supports of the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens. She worked for some years at the Rubenianum Centre and as a research assistant at VUB. Since 2009 she has been freelancing for KMSKA, participating first in the museum’s Rubens research and subsequently in the Ensor Research Project. In collaboration with photographer Adri Verburg, she is currently studying paintings by means of infrared, ultraviolet and X-ray imaging.

Normal light

Normal light (generally abbreviated as NL): ordinary high-resolution colour images.


A pentimento is an alteration to a painting, evidenced by traces of the earlier version and showing that the artist changed his mind during the creative process. Pentimento (plural: pentimenti) is an Italian noun derived from the verb pentirsi, meaning 'to repent'.


A microscope with two objectives and two eyepieces, creating a three-dimensional effect for the viewer.

Raking light

Raking light (RL) (also known as grazing light): light directed at a painting from an oblique angle in order to reveal surface detail. Raking light images are made in normal (day)light.

Ultraviolet fluorescence

UV fluorescence (UVF) or black light is electromagnetic radiation just outside the spectrum visible to the human eye. Its wavelength lies between 10 and 400 nanometres, a frequency ‘beyond’ violet, in the ultraviolet spectrum. UVF is most commonly applied to visualise the varnish layer on paintings. If there is no varnish layer, UV can light up certain pigments possessing fluorescent properties.

Ultraviolet-reflection false colour

UV-reflection false colour (UVR-FC): ultraviolet reflection can be used to experiment with false colour imaging.

X-ray fluorescence analysis

X-ray fluorescence analysis is a technique whereby X-rays are used to visualise the chemical composition of substances. In this instance, it is applied to identify pigments, types of paint, etc.


Museum offices

Lange Kievitstraat 111-113 bus 100, B-2018 Antwerpen

T +32 (0)3 224 95 50