Special Issue "Study and Characterization of Paintings: Materials, Artistic Techniques, and Conservation"

A special issue of Heritage (ISSN 2571-9408). This special issue belongs to the section "Artistic Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2022 | Viewed by 9940

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Valeria Di Tullio
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Guest Editor
Italian National Council of Research, Institute of Heritage Science (ISPC-CNR), Via Salaria Km 29,300, Area of Research Rome1, 00016 Montelibretti, Italy
Interests: paintings; natural and artificial lapideous materials; wood and cellulose; spectroscopy; nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); artistic techniques; degradation phenomena; restoration products
Dr. Brenda Doherty
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Italian National Research Council (CNR) Institute of Chemical Sciences and Technologies “Giulio Natta” (SCITEC), via Elce di Sotto 8, Perugia, Italy
Interests: vibrational spectroscopy; surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy; organic colorants and pigments; natural and synthetic dyes; in-situ analyses

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since ancient times, painting have been the most widespread form of man’s creative expression. Using a wide range of materials and complex techniques, painted artworks are an important historical and cultural testament that needs to be recognized and preserved for future generations.

The study of painting techniques, degradation processes, and restoration practices is, by nature, a multidisciplinary area of study, combining research in science, conservation, and art history as well as specific knowledge in painting manufacturing. Heritage science is increasingly indispensable in widening the attention given to all the aspects that affect the life of an artwork; in understanding the changing boundaries and interactions between its historical, aesthetic, and material value; as well in evaluating the interactions with the environmental conditions and planning the intervention of restoration.

Information about all these aspects can be gained by the analysis of the chemical and physical properties of the materials found in paintings in combination with the historical information reported in documentary sources and incorporated in the examination of individual paintings. When looking at numerous art objects, we can see that no two objects are really the same. Thus, a main aim of heritage science is to understand why each individual heritage object is so incredibly unique, not just because of its recognized value, but also because the manufacturing of and materials in each individual object are slightly different, and why they all degrade so differently.

This Special Issue aims to show a wide selection of contributions in the study of paintings as well as recent points of view to promote a greater understanding of the inherent complexity of paintings and stimulate innovative questions and discussions on this topic.

We welcome multidisciplinary collaborative studies and review manuscripts discussing different approaches to studying painting across a different combinations of artistic techniques, restoration practices, and material characterization, including both case studies and mock-ups. We also welcome manuscripts on the following selected topics:

  • The characterization, degradation, and restoration of painting supports such as wood, canvas, paper, parchment, plaster, and pottery.
  • The stratigraphy of painted artworks, artistic techniques, and restoration issues, and new techniques of analysis.
  • Degradation processes and the conservation of natural and synthetic organic binders, and their interaction with pigment particles.
  • Restoration issues, including varnishing and cleaning practices in paintings. Additionally, the history of, experimentation with, and evaluation of restoration products, as well as new perspectives of study.
  • Study of moisture and temperature in indoor and semiconfined environments for the collection care of paintings.
  • Ancient recipes and restoration practices and their impact on painting conservation.
  • Art history and materials science in studying the style and masterpieces of artists, artistic currents, and movements.

Dr. Valeria Di Tullio
Dr. Brenda Doherty
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Heritage is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Paintings
  • Restoration
  • Chemistry
  • Art history
  • Material science
  • Painted artworks
  • Environment
  • Analytical chemistry

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Article
The Pigments of the Painter Fleury Richard (1777–1852), a Model for Multidisciplinary Study
Heritage 2022, 5(2), 1276-1294; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5020066 - 07 Jun 2022
Viewed by 635
Abstract
Fleury Richard was a colorist painter of the early 19th century. He practiced the oil technique inspired by the Renaissance at a time when advances in chemistry were introducing many new synthetic pigments. His color-mixing cabinet has been kept intact at the Musée [...] Read more.
Fleury Richard was a colorist painter of the early 19th century. He practiced the oil technique inspired by the Renaissance at a time when advances in chemistry were introducing many new synthetic pigments. His color-mixing cabinet has been kept intact at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon. This original study is based on the analysis of more than 40 color powders using different spectroscopic techniques (X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and Raman spectroscopy), color index estimation, and the comparison of the results obtained from three pictural works painted by the artist. It allows us (i) to identify and reference the pigmented powders and pictural choices in connection with historical manuscripts describing the artist’s practice, and (ii) to identify the most judicious analysis methods and question the difficulty of analyzing paintings in a non-destructive way, where pigments are put into a matrix and mixed. Full article
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Article
Scientific Study of the Origin of the Painting from the Early 20th Century Leads to Pablo Picasso
Heritage 2022, 5(2), 1120-1140; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5020060 - 28 May 2022
Viewed by 691
Abstract
This study applied multiple scientific approaches to establish the significance of an old work of art, Red Guitar, by examining its historical origin and the color materials used in its creation. Additionally, the study provides thus far unknown pieces of Olga Picasso’s [...] Read more.
This study applied multiple scientific approaches to establish the significance of an old work of art, Red Guitar, by examining its historical origin and the color materials used in its creation. Additionally, the study provides thus far unknown pieces of Olga Picasso’s family history to be added to her biography. Scientific approaches included digital X-ray radiography, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and elemental thermal conductivity analysis. This combination of techniques provided a broad confirmation as to when the painting was created. The artwork includes colors (white, black, blue, yellow, green, red, and brown/red) and prevalent use of lead- and iron-based historic pigments—chrome yellow, yellow ochre, and red ochre. It also documents the use of unconventional materials, such as the colorant Pigment Red 4, and nitrocellulose. This investigation led to the conclusion that the artwork, Red Guitar, is authentic and in accordance with Picasso’s work during the first two decades of the 20th century. Full article
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Article
Evolution of Liu Kang’s Palette and Painting Practice for the Execution of Female Nude Paintings: The Analytical Investigation of a Genre
Heritage 2022, 5(2), 896-935; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5020050 - 20 Apr 2022
Viewed by 918
Abstract
The comprehensive technical investigation of female nude paintings by the Singapore pioneer artist Liu Kang (1911–2004) provided the evidence for a discussion of the evolution of his palette of colours and his working process for expression in this genre, particularly the execution of [...] Read more.
The comprehensive technical investigation of female nude paintings by the Singapore pioneer artist Liu Kang (1911–2004) provided the evidence for a discussion of the evolution of his palette of colours and his working process for expression in this genre, particularly the execution of female bodies. As the artist’s free expression in classical nude paintings was limited by the censorship imposed by the Singapore government, the investigated artworks span two periods, 1927–1954 (early career) and 1992–1999 (the “golden years”, during which censorship policies were relaxed). Hence, eight paintings from the Liu family and National Gallery Singapore were selected for non- and micro-invasive analyses of the paint layers. The obtained results were supplemented with archival sources to elucidate certain aspects of Liu Kang’s working practice. The investigation revealed the importance of drawing and sketching studies in the development of artistic ideas. The analytical techniques, such as polarised light microscopy (PLM), field emission scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive spectroscopy (FE-SEM-EDS) and attenuated total reflectance–Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), enabled us to observe a transition from the yellow iron-based tonal ranges of skin colours to complex pigment mixtures composed of additions of cobalt blue, ultramarine, Prussian blue, Cr-containing yellow(s) and green(s), cadmium yellow, orange and/or red and organic reds, revealing the artist’s more liberal use of colours and his experimentation with their contrasting and complementary juxtaposes. In terms of painting technique, the artist’s comparatively laborious paint application using small brushes quickly gave way to a more effortless manipulation of the paint using bigger brushes and the incorporation of palette knives. Moreover, visible light (VIS), near-infrared (NIR) and X-ray radiography (XRR) imaging techniques led to the discovery of a hidden composition in one investigated artwork, which bears resemblance to the nude painting known only from an archival photograph. Additionally, for the first time, the archival search provided photographic evidence that Liu Kang used oil paint tubes from Royal Talens and Rowney in the 1990s. Overall, this in-depth investigation contributes to the understanding of Liu Kang’s approach to the female nude painting and may assist conservators and art historians in studies of twentieth-century commercial paints. Full article
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Article
The Art of Everyday Objects: A Non-Invasive In Situ Investigation of Materials and Techniques of Italian Pop Art Paintings on Aluminium
Heritage 2022, 5(1), 42-60; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5010003 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1003
Abstract
Two paintings, made on aluminium support by Silvio Pasotti (among the major exponents of 1960s Italian pop art) were investigated in a totally non-invasive manner to identify the materials used by the artist. Raman spectroscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), visible reflectance spectroscopy, and [...] Read more.
Two paintings, made on aluminium support by Silvio Pasotti (among the major exponents of 1960s Italian pop art) were investigated in a totally non-invasive manner to identify the materials used by the artist. Raman spectroscopy, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), visible reflectance spectroscopy, and spectrofluorimetry with visible excitation were exploited as molecular analysis techniques, which are particularly suitable to recognise also synthetic organic materials, such as pigments and binders. The effectiveness of this multi-analytical approach was demonstrated, leading to the identification of several synthetic organic pigments, both conventional and “special effect” ones, introduced during the first half of the 20th century, as well as some well-established inorganic ones. Combining FTIR results both in the medium and near IR ranges, considerations regarding the binders employed by the artist could also be made, suggesting the use of both nitrocellulose and acrylic paints. Imaging techniques, such as IR reflectography, false colour IR, UV induced fluorescence, and portable microscopy, were also used to achieve a better knowledge of the painting practice. Full article
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Article
On the Two Working Palettes of Almada Negreiros at DN Building in Lisbon (1939–1940): First Analytical Approach and Insight on the Use of Cd Based Pigments
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 4578-4595; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040252 - 03 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 989
Abstract
This paper reports the first analytical approach carried out on two working palettes by Portuguese modernist master Almada Negreiros, found in 1991 behind old wood cabinets at the DN building in Lisbon. This is the only known occasion Almada left behind the color [...] Read more.
This paper reports the first analytical approach carried out on two working palettes by Portuguese modernist master Almada Negreiros, found in 1991 behind old wood cabinets at the DN building in Lisbon. This is the only known occasion Almada left behind the color experiments done before starting to paint in the nearby walls and as such, it is a unique opportunity to analyze the materials and painting techniques that were originally used. The analytical setup comprised in loco technical photography in Vis, UVF and NIR; p-OM, spectrophotometry in Vis and h-EDXRF, complemented by OM-Vis, µ-FT-IR and VP-SEM-EDS of painting micro-samples and pigments in powder form. Preliminary results suggested the use of fresco painting technique and revealed some technical details, such as the use of a coarse lime sand finishing mortar mixed with natural vegetable fibers, and the extensive use of cadmium-based pigments that were not commonly used (or even recommended) in an alkaline environment. The Cd pigments were used alone or in mixtures with Fe based pigments in the warm hues and with cobalt and ultramarine blue pigments in some green paint layers. No clear evidence of organic materials that could have been used as binders was detected. Full article
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Article
Nondestructive Analysis of Wall Paintings at Ostia Antica
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 4421-4438; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040244 - 20 Nov 2021
Viewed by 922
Abstract
Roman wall paintings at Ostia Antica were studied for the first time in situ in an integrated approach using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) depth profiling, portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and visible induced luminescence (VIL) in order to explore the materials used in their [...] Read more.
Roman wall paintings at Ostia Antica were studied for the first time in situ in an integrated approach using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) depth profiling, portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and visible induced luminescence (VIL) in order to explore the materials used in their construction and gain insight into the evolution of the Roman painting technique over time. NMR revealed the signatures of covered wall paintings through details of the structure of the top painted mortar layers, and the loss of this information that can be encountered when paintings are detached from the wall for preservation purposes. XRF provided information about the pigment composition of the paintings, and VIL was used to identify Egyptian Blue. Egyptian Blue was only found in the earlier wall paintings studied dating from 1st century B.C.E. to the 1st century C.E. The pigment palette seems to become limited to iron-based pigments in the later paintings, whereas the palette of the earlier paintings appears to be more varied including mercury, lead, and copper-based pigments. Full article
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Article
A Comprehensive and Systematic Diagnostic Campaign for a New Acquisition of Contemporary Art—The Case of Natura Morta by Andreina Rosa (1924–2019) at the International Gallery of Modern Art Ca’ Pesaro, Venice
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 4372-4398; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040242 - 16 Nov 2021
Viewed by 944
Abstract
A multi-analytical approach has been employed to investigate the painting Natura Morta (1954–1955) by Andreina Rosa (1924–2019) to assess the state of conservation and to understand more about the painting materials and techniques of this artwork, which was recently donated by the painter’s [...] Read more.
A multi-analytical approach has been employed to investigate the painting Natura Morta (1954–1955) by Andreina Rosa (1924–2019) to assess the state of conservation and to understand more about the painting materials and techniques of this artwork, which was recently donated by the painter’s heirs to the International Gallery of Modern Art Ca’ Pesaro (Venice-Italy). A comprehensive and systematic diagnostic campaign was carried out, mainly adopting non-invasive imaging and spectroscopic methods, such as technical photography, optical microscopy, Hyperspectral Imaging Spectroscopy (HIS), fiber optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), External Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared (ER-FTIR), and Raman spectroscopies. Microsamples, collected from the edges of the canvas in areas partially detached, were studied by Attenuated Total Reflection Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). By crossing the information gained, it was possible to make inferences about the composition of the groundings and the painted layers, the state of conservation of the artwork, and the presence of degradation phenomena. Hence, the present study may be of interest for conservation purposes as well as for enhancing the artistic activity of Andreina Rosa. The final aim was to provide useful information for the Gallery which recently included this painting in its permanent collection. Full article
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Article
Complex Relationships: A Materials Study of Édouard Vuillard’s Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 2903-2917; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040162 - 30 Sep 2021
Viewed by 499
Abstract
Édouard Vuillard (1868–1949) is well known for his small atmospheric paintings, often portraying his own home and family as the subject matter. Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist (1893) underwent at least one restoration treatment before being acquired by the Museum of [...] Read more.
Édouard Vuillard (1868–1949) is well known for his small atmospheric paintings, often portraying his own home and family as the subject matter. Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist (1893) underwent at least one restoration treatment before being acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1934. The painting was treated again in 1954, but no analysis was carried out to understand the artist’s methods and materials at that time. To better understand the choices of Vuillard in Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist, a comprehensive suite of imaging and spectroscopic analyses was undertaken, including: XRR, UVF and IRR Photography, XRF, Raman spectroscopy and SERS, and µ-FTIR. Statistical analysis on the XRF data using MCR-ALS further revealed some of the intricacies of Vuillard’s technique and color choices, where a large number of pigments were used in designing this intimate composition, including lead white, zinc white, bone black, ochre, umber, vermilion, Geranium lake, red lead, ultramarine, Prussian blue, chrome yellow, chrome orange, zinc yellow, strontium yellow, cadmium yellow, and a chromium oxide green. Full article
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Article
Multispectral Imaging and p-XRF for the Non-Invasive Characterization of the Anonymous Devotional Painting ‘Maria Santissima delle Grazie’ from Mirabella Imbáccari (Sicily, Italy)
Heritage 2021, 4(3), 2320-2336; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4030131 - 10 Sep 2021
Viewed by 880
Abstract
This work presents the results of the in situ, non-invasive diagnostic investigations performed on the canvas oil painting depicting Madonna and Child, venerated as ‘Maria Santissima delle Grazie’ by the local religious community. The work of art (72 cm × 175 [...] Read more.
This work presents the results of the in situ, non-invasive diagnostic investigations performed on the canvas oil painting depicting Madonna and Child, venerated as ‘Maria Santissima delle Grazie’ by the local religious community. The work of art (72 cm × 175 cm) is located on the high altar of the main Church in Mirabella Imbáccari, near Catania (Sicily, Italy). The painter is anonymous, and the supposed dating is the late eighteenth century. Although the painting has never been studied before, it has been attributed to a Sicilian workshop in the literature, raising the doubts of the art historian who conducted this study and who hypothesized a Neapolitan manufacture. Furthermore, due to the good conservation state detected by a macroscopic examination, doubts also arose about dating. To shed light on these aspects, a technical-scientific examination proved necessary. Multispectral imaging techniques (IR Reflectography, UV-induced visible Fluorescence, X-ray) are carried out for the study of the execution technique, the identification of underlying remakes, sketch drawing and the evaluation of the conservation conditions. XRF spectrometry analysis is performed for the identification of the chemical elements constituting the pigments (inorganic chromophores). The diagnostic results allowed this research to confirm the dating suggested by the historical-stylistic knowledge and to highlight new technical peculiarities supporting the attribution to a Neapolitan workshop. Full article
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Article
Max Ernst’s Woman, Old Man, and Flower (1923–24): Four Paintings in One Revealed by Technical Imaging
Heritage 2021, 4(3), 2224-2236; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4030125 - 06 Sep 2021
Viewed by 956
Abstract
Examining the painting Woman, Old Man, and Flower (1923–24) by Max Ernst with macro-X-ray fluorescence scanning (MA-XRF), X-ray radiography (XRR) as well as photography under ultraviolet (UVF), infrared reflected (IRR) and transmitted (IRT) illumination revealed the existence and sequence of three distinct paintings [...] Read more.
Examining the painting Woman, Old Man, and Flower (1923–24) by Max Ernst with macro-X-ray fluorescence scanning (MA-XRF), X-ray radiography (XRR) as well as photography under ultraviolet (UVF), infrared reflected (IRR) and transmitted (IRT) illumination revealed the existence and sequence of three distinct paintings concealed under the final composition. The study confirmed a known and previously documented intermediate composition and uncovered two additional states: a very first state exposed by XRR, and a third state revealed in the elemental distribution maps obtained by MA-XRF. The complimentary images document the insertion, mutation, and concealing of several human and anthropomorphic subjects across the four layers, expanding our understanding of the painting and of Ernst’s collage-like pictorial development. In addition, a list of pigments is proposed based on the elemental information provided by MA-XRF, contributing to the technical literature devoted to the materials of Ernst’s paintings during the transitional period between Dada and Surrealism. Full article
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