Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 399, Issue 1, pp 331–336 | Cite as

Clay pigment structure characterisation as a guide for provenance determination—a comparison between laboratory powder micro-XRD and synchrotron radiation XRD

  • Silvie ŠvarcováEmail author
  • Petr Bezdička
  • David Hradil
  • Janka Hradilová
  • Ivo Žižak
Paper in Forefront


Application of X-ray diffraction (XRD)-based techniques in the analysis of painted artworks is not only beneficial for indisputable identification of crystal constituents in colour layers, but it can also bring insight in material crystal structure, which can be affected by their geological formation, manufacturing procedure or secondary changes. This knowledge might be helpful for art historic evaluation of an artwork as well as for its conservation. By way of example of kaolinite, we show that classification of its crystal structure order based on XRD data is useful for estimation of its provenance. We found kaolinite in the preparation layer of a Gothic wall painting in a Czech church situated near Karlovy Vary, where there are important kaolin deposits. Comparing reference kaolin materials from eight various Czech deposits, we found that these can be differentiated just according to the kaolinite crystallinity. Within this study, we compared laboratory powder X-ray micro-diffraction (micro-XRD) with synchrotron radiation X-ray diffraction analysing the same real sample. We found that both techniques led to the same results.


XRD patterns of kaolins from Czech deposits compared with a XRD pattern from a wall painting found in St. Maria-Magdalena Church in Bor.


Powder X-ray micro-diffraction Synchrotron radiation Kaolinite Wall painting Pigment provenance 



The authors thank restorer Václav Potůček for providing artwork samples and versatile cooperation. The authors also acknowledge Lubomír Smrčok from the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry SAS, Bratislava, Slovakia, for his valuable help in preparing this paper. This work was supported by the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (AV0Z40320502 and M200320901) and by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MSM 6046144603).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvie Švarcová
    • 1
    Email author
  • Petr Bezdička
    • 1
  • David Hradil
    • 1
  • Janka Hradilová
    • 2
  • Ivo Žižak
    • 3
  1. 1.ALMA LaboratoryInstitute of Inorganic Chemistry of the AS CR, v.v.i.Husinec-ŘežCzech Republic
  2. 2.ALMA LaboratoryAcademy of Fine Arts in Prague, U Akademie 4Praha 7Czech Republic
  3. 3.Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialen und EnergieBerlinGermany

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