History of Mexican Easel Paintings from an Altarpiece Revealed by Non-invasive Terahertz Time-Domain Imaging

  • A. M. Gomez-Sepulveda
  • A. I. Hernandez-Serrano
  • R. Radpour
  • C. L. Koch-Dandolo
  • S. C. Rojas-Landeros
  • L. F. Ascencio-Rojas
  • Alvaro Zarate
  • Gerardo Hernandez
  • R. C. Gonzalez-Tirado
  • M. Insaurralde-Caballero
  • E. Castro-Camus


Four easel paintings attributed to Hermenegildo Bustos (Purísima del Rincón, Guanajuato, Mexico), one of the most renowned painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Mexican art, have been investigated by means of terahertz time-domain imaging (THz-TDI) and standard imaging techniques, such as near-IR reflectography and X-ray radiography. The archival sources and the recent studies on the paintings suggest that the artworks were created in the eighteenth century and underwent several modifications since then until the intervention of Bustos who authored the currently visible depictions. By combining the records of the paintings obtained by imaging with the different methodologies, aspects of the previous depictions and further details on the paintings’ history have been revealed, with THz-TDI playing a key role in attributing a chronological evolution of the images. The paintings of Purísima are the first THz-TDI-scanned paintings belonging to the Mexican cultural heritage.


Terahertz time-domain imaging Easel painting Terahertz IR reflectography X-radiography Cultural heritage 



Authors wish to thank the conservators Jaime Huerta, Sandra Pujol, and Leonel Sahagún for the fruitful discussions about the results. The authors would like to acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia CONACYT (grant numbers 255114 and 252939), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF, P2SKP2_16321 / 1), and UC MEXUS.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. M. Gomez-Sepulveda
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. I. Hernandez-Serrano
    • 1
  • R. Radpour
    • 3
  • C. L. Koch-Dandolo
    • 1
  • S. C. Rojas-Landeros
    • 1
  • L. F. Ascencio-Rojas
    • 1
  • Alvaro Zarate
    • 2
  • Gerardo Hernandez
    • 2
  • R. C. Gonzalez-Tirado
    • 4
  • M. Insaurralde-Caballero
    • 5
  • E. Castro-Camus
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Investigaciones en Optica A.C.LeonMexico
  2. 2.Escuela de Conservacion y Restauracion de OccidenteGuadalajaraMexico
  3. 3.Department of Materials Science and Engineering, HSSEAS School of Engineering and Applied ScienceUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia. Centro INAH GuanajuatoGuanajuatoMexico
  5. 5.El Colegio de MichoacanLa PiedadMexico

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