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Proceedings Paper

Micro-XRF complemented by x-radiography and digital microscopy imaging for the study of hidden paintings
Author(s): Svetlana Gasanova; Sorin Hermon
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Paper Abstract

The present study describes a novel approach to the study of hidden by integrating the non-invasive micro-X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy, X-radiography and digital microscopy. The case study analysed is a portrait of a male figure discovered under the painting of Ecce Homo, attributed to Titian’s studio with an estimated date in the 1550s. The X-radiography images exposed the details of the underpainting, which appeared to be a nearly finished portrait of a standing man, overpainted by the current composition of Ecce Homo at a 180° angle. The microscopy observations of the upper painting’s cracks and flaked areas enabled the study of the exposed underlayers in terms of their colour appearance and pigment particles. The subsequent pigment analysis was performed by micro-XRF. Since the described XRF analysis was performed not in scanner mode, the correct selection of the measurement spots for the micro analysis and separation between pigments of the lower and the upper painting was of paramount importance. The described approach for spot selection was based on the results of the preceding X-radiography and digital microscopy tests. The presence of lead white, vermilion, copper green and iron earth in the underlying portrait was confirmed by the multiple point XRF analysis of Pb, Hg, Cu, Fe and Mn lines. The described investigation method proved to be useful in the identification of the pigments of the underlying painting and consequently assisted in the tentative reconstruction of its colour palette. Moreover, the undertaken approach allowed discovering the potential of micro-XRF technique in the study of hidden compositions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 July 2017
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 10331, Optics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology VI, 103310T (11 July 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2270085
Show Author Affiliations
Svetlana Gasanova, The Cyprus Institute (Cyprus)
Sorin Hermon, The Cyprus Institute (Cyprus)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10331:
Optics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology VI
Luca Pezzati; Piotr Targowski, Editor(s)

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