BODLEIAN Library researchers in Oxford are to uncover secret notes left behind by an artist on his paintings.

Scientists will deploy special imaging techniques to reveal pencil sketches underneath 18th and 19th century Austrian botanical illustrator Ferdinand Bauer’s paintings.

Bauer’s pencil markings include number codes referencing a colour chart.

David Howell, head of conservation research at the Bodleian Library, said: “This will increase our understanding of how late 18th century natural history artists worked in the field and studio and the materials they used.

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“We aim to rediscover Bauer’s lost colour chart for Flora Graeca.”

The Flora Graeca was a publication of the plants of Greece in the late 18th century, resulting from a survey by John Sibthorp and Bauer.

Mr Howell added: “Bauer had an astonishing memory for colour and through discovering where his paintings have faded and degraded we should learn even more about the techniques he used and their accuracy.”

The research is being funded by grants the University of Oxford Fell Fund and the Leverhulme Trust.

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