, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 225-234
Date: 01 Jun 2013

A multi-technique chemical characterization of a Stradivari decorated violin top plate

Abstract

This paper focuses on the characterization of the materials of a violin top plate made by Antonio Stradivari (17th century), with different diagnostic techniques and with an integrated and non-destructive analytical methodology to study surface coatings and decorations. The UV-induced visible fluorescence, optical digital microscopy, ED-XRF associated with micro-FTIR spectroscopy analysis, and dendrochronology were performed. The investigations were aimed to identify the presence of original varnish layers and to characterize the composition of the decorations, either the inlaid purflings or the composite false-inlay strip between them. Several results were achieved: (i) evidence of the absence of varnish layers on the surface as a result of extended and inappropriate restoring; (ii) identification of the dye used for the black layers of the purflings; (iii) characterization of the black matrix and the white elements of the decoration. Furthermore, a dendrochronological dating was performed. A copy of the top plate was realized with materials similar to those identified on the Stradivari original; the same analyses performed on the original model were carried out on the same areas of the copy.