Painting Restoration and the Eye of the Beholder: A Mobile Eye-Tracking Study at the Unterlinden Museum

Art historical literature has often discussed the impact of painting restorations on viewers. Although many theoretical hypotheses have been proposed regarding the effect of restoration on the beholder’s eye, little empirical research has addressed this topic. This study aimed to fill this gap by investigating whether painting restoration has a meaningful influence on the visual perception of art viewers at the eye-movement level. Specifically, the study designed a mobile eye-tracking study in an ecologically valid setting — the art museum — to investigate the effects of restoration on ten panels from the Isenheim Altarpiece (1512–1516) by Matthias Grünewald, currently displayed at the Unterlinden Museum in France.

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