Non invasive analysis of miniature paintings: Proposal for an analytical protocol

TitreNon invasive analysis of miniature paintings: Proposal for an analytical protocol
Type de publicationArticle de revue
Année de publication2012
AuteursAceto, M, Agostino, A, Fenoglio, G, Gulmini, M, Bianco, V, Eleonora Pellizzi
JournalSpectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy

The characterisation of palettes used in manuscript illumination is a hard analytical task, due to value and fragility of the analysed items. Analysis on miniatures must be necessarily non-invasive and fast and requires the use of several techniques since no single technique is able to provide all information needed. In this work a four-step analytical protocol is proposed for non-invasive in situ characterisation of miniature paintings. The protocol allows the identification of coloured materials through the use in sequence of complementary techniques, so as to fully exploit the information given by each instrument. Preliminarily to the instrumental investigations on ancient books and miniatures is the compilation of spectroscopic databases obtained from "standard" samples prepared on parchment, according to recipes described in medieval artistic treatises. The protocol starts with an extensive investigation with UV-visible spectrophotometry in reflectance mode, collecting spectra from all the most significant painted areas in the manuscript; chemometric classification is then performed on the spectra to highlight areas possibly containing the same materials. The second step involves in-depth inspection of miniatures under optical microscopy that guides the interpretation of reflectance spectra. XRF spectrometry is then performed to characterise pigments and metal layers, to verify the presence of overlapping layers, to identify mordants in lakes and to recognise minor components that may yield information concerning provenance; in addition, chemometric classification can be performed on element concentrations to highlight similar areas. Finally, Raman spectroscopy is used to shed light on the uncertain cases, if still present. Such a procedure offers a wealth of information without causing stress to the manuscripts under analysis.