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Synchrotron micro-XRD and XRD-CT reveal newly formed lead-sulfur compounds in Old Master paintings

DOI: 10.1039/D0JA00169D DOI Help

Authors: Victor Gonzalez (Rijksmuseum, Diamond Light Source) , Annelies Van Loon (Rijksmuseum; Mauritshuis) , Stephen Price (Finden Ltd) , Petria Noble (Rijksmuseum) , Katrien Keune (Rijksmuseum; University of Amsterdam)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Journal Of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry

State: Published (Approved)
Published: July 2020
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 18676

Abstract: The in-situ formation of lead-sulfur inorganic compounds in historical oil paintings can have a strong detrimental effect on an artwork’s physical and visual integrity. In this paper, paint micro-samples collected from several paintings from the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and Mauritshuis (The Hague) collections were probed at the micro-scale using a combination of synchrotron micro-XRD and XRD-CT. This permitted to precisely identify the chemical nature of the in-situ formed crystalline compounds as well as to chart their distribution within paint layers at the microscopic level. This provided new information on the origin of the ions involved in the crystallization of the various newly formed mineral lead-sulfur products. The formation of palmierite K2Pb(SO4)2, anglesite PbSO4 and lanarkite Pb2(SO4)O in historical samples can thus be connected to paint stratigraphic build-up, environmental conditions and potential past restoration treatments.

Subject Areas: Archaeological and Cultural Heritage, Chemistry


Instruments: I18-Microfocus Spectroscopy