Publication

Non-destructive XRD analysis of paints for art historical research

Authors: Graeme Hansford (University of Leicester) , Craig I. Hiley (University of Leicester) , Nicholas Eastaugh (University of Oxford) , Giannantonio Cibin (Diamond Light Source)
Co-authored by industrial partner: Yes

Type: Conference Paper
Conference: 68th Annual Denver X-ray Conference
Peer Reviewed: Yes

State: Published (Approved)
Published: August 2019
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 18533

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: We have tested the application of a novel, non-destructive XRD technique to the crystallographic analysis of the pigments in artistic paint samples as a forerunner to the investigation of paintings. Back-reflection energy-dispersive XRD is a powder technique that is not sensitive to the shape of the sample and can therefore be applied without sample preparation. A panel of oil-based paints commonly used by 20th century artists, previously prepared to test hyperspectral imaging capabilities, was used as a test-bed. This panel was taken to the Diamond Light Source synchrotron in the UK and the diffraction patterns of individual paints were recorded. For example, an analysis of the diffraction pattern of ‘Flake White’ (Michael Harding paints) shows clearly the presence of zincite (ZnO), cerrussite (PbCO3) and hydrocerrussite (2PbCO3.Pb(OH)2). In addition to simple phase identification, the technique also furnishes precise unit cell dimensions and information about particle size and morphology via the analysis of peak widths. These additional parameters have the potential to distinguish pigment production methods and dates, crucial information for art historical research and authentication purposes. In this presentation, we will review the data derived using the test panel and discuss the implications for the scientific analysis of paintings and other painted objects.

Journal Keywords: energy-dispersive XRD; back-reflection geometry; sample preparation; non-destructive analysis; pigments; oil-based artistic paints

Subject Areas: Archaeological and Cultural Heritage, Technique Development, Physics


Instruments: B18-Core EXAFS