A team of conservation scientists recently went through a 230-year-old correspondence between a Swedish mass between Mary Antoinette and her close friend (and rumored boyfriend) Axel von Farsen, and were able to reveal repetitive parts of eight letters exchanged between the two.
The research team used X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, a well-proven method to look at the chemistry of historic inks, to reveal what was written under the next scribble, which was done with iron-gal ink. Underneath that sensor, the team found a sound that the hitherto unknown person thought was too sensitive to see daylight. They even found out that Marie had written some letters Antoinette was in the hands of another and was able to identify the culprit: the count itself. The team’s research is Published Today in the advancement of science.
“Fersen copied many of the letters written by Marie-Antoinette, either because the original was originally encrypted (some of the letters were encrypted because no one could read them) or simply because it was common practice at the time,” said a conservative And Ann Michelin, lead author of the study, said in an email to Gizmodo: “Political factors may explain the existence of these copies: in times of crisis, for their safety, it is sometimes necessary that the authors of the letter not be identified.”
Michelin added that copying letters was a pretty standard way to store and keep track of exchanges (and you thought it was hard to keep track of your inbox). But all the normality of letter-copying, on the one hand, is reason enough to speculate about the close friendship between the count and the queen, as described Versailles website:
There is no historical evidence that they were lovers, but there is enough mystery to keep the myth alive. Yet, their secret correspondence provides ample evidence of their mutual attachment, such as letters of reckoning to friends and family. In a letter to his sister Sophie Piper, von Farsen declared: “I have decided that I will never marry again. It would be unnatural … I can’t be the person I really want to be … so I don’t like being with anyone.
Poor count. The censored text from the letter confirms how strongly the two felt about each other. Some modified words were “dear,” “gentle friend,” “caress,” and “crazy”, speaking of the intensity and intimacy of their relationship. The team was able to express the language in eight of the 15 letters they visited, which are in the French National Archives.
The team noted in their research paper that revealing these censored parts does little to reveal any hidden elements of the relationship (their intimacy is a matter of public record) but rather how the correspondence between them was rewritten and later censored.
To reveal the text that was censored, the parties compared the combination of inks used to write the letters to the inks used to reconstruct them. They used X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, a tool to detect chemical differences in materials. XRF is an important component of the PIXL instrument, which will be the perseverance of the Mars rover Search for fossilized microbial life. The technology can be used to look at the recent and ancient past, thanks to the chemical signature that leaves everything behind.
“The technique is not new, but it is good to see that, according to the authors, it is becoming a standard and easy-to-use technique in the laboratory / museum,” wrote Marine Cote, a Bimline scientist at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. Gizmodo was not involved in the study in an email. Cotte was part of a team that unpacked using X-ray fluorescence The chemical composition of 5,000-year-old Egyptian ink.
Compared to ancient Egypt, the ink used around the French Revolution is not old. But the recent group had no other question than which words were to be re-enacted: they wanted to find out who, if possible, rebuilt them and who wrote the letters first. Marie thinks she wrote some letters as well as learning Antonette was actually a copy written by Farsen, the team found that Farsen was responsible for this reaction. The type of ink used to cover the text was used by Farsen to write another letter. In a separate letter, Fersen added words above a re-prescribed passage, as confirmed by a handwriting expert, further confirming the team’s result.
“The authors did it well and took it one step further. Although the device they used was commercially available, they were very innovative in the data processing part, using tools used in other fields to find hidden patterns in XRF data. Ray specializes in spectroscopy and is unrelated to recent research.
“Although their improvements make some reconstructed text readable and contribute to the progress of the field, they admit that they have re-read 8 out of 15 passages. So, there is still a lot of work to be done for our community, ”Alfeld wrote in an email to Gizmodo.
In addition to the unread characters between the two royal families, XRF can be used for other reconstructed miscellaneous or text that has simply faded due to poor preservation. Industrial historians have also been able to reveal Hidden painting Under the finished work, including the work of Picasso.