A team from GE Energy Management Inspection Services helped to prepare the space to ensure that all safety precautions were followed accordingly. The x-ray tube was positioned on tripod in front of the painting at a fixed distance for all 120 captures (Pictured Here: James McKinney III and Mark Shurtleff from GE Energy Management).
A special holder equipped with magnets was designed by Villanova's Instrument/Machinist expert Brad Thorstensen to hold the light-sensitive polyester film in place during each exposure. The film could be easily slid in and out of the holder while the magnets were used to suspend the film in a fixed position (Pictured Here: Project Leader Kristin deGhetaldi).
Over a period of 3 days, over 120 captures were taken of the painting. A number of volunteers were involved in the lengthy process which involved scaffolding, ladders, and other cumbersome equipment (Pictured Here: Project intern Keara Teeter and project volunteer Morgan Shankweiler).
The team collected over 120 captures to produce this overall composite image of the x-radiograph. X-rays have a difficult time penetrating areas that were painted with lead white or other radio-opaque pigments (such as vermillion) in addition to sections that were built up with several layers of paint. These regions appear white in the X-ray image and help to reveal brushwork, changes, and even hidden figures.<br/><a href="http://www.artcons.udel.edu/about/kress/examination-techniques-and-scientific-terms/x-radiography" target="_blank">More on X-Radiography Here</a>
Although it is extremely faint in the x-ray image, the face and hand of a small child can be seen just below the elbow of the woman standing in the background. This child was part of the original composition.composition only to be abandoned at a later stage.
This figure was by far the most dramatic discovery that was made during the x-ray imaging session. Cross-sectional paint samples showed brilliant colors of pain beneath the black shield but only the x-ray revealed that these colors belonged to a figure of a kneeling man holding a fasces, an object that is often associated with the power of the Roman magistrate and does appear in a few of Cortona's works as well as other paintings from this period. The head and hands of the man are beautifully sculpted and further examination suggests that his robes were painted using yellow ochre and lapis lazuli. It is not clear why this fully painted figure holding a symbolic object was ultimately painted out of the composition.