Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 407, Issue 5, pp 1415–1431 | Cite as

Py-GC/MS applied to the analysis of synthetic organic pigments: characterization and identification in paint samples

  • Elisa Ghelardi
  • Ilaria Degano
  • Maria Perla Colombini
  • Joy Mazurek
  • Michael Schilling
  • Tom Learner
Research Paper


A collection of 76 synthetic organic pigments was analysed using pyrolysis–gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS). The purpose of this work was to expand the knowledge on synthetic pigments and to assess characteristic pyrolysis products that could help in the identification of these pigments in paint samples. We analysed several classes of synthetic pigments not previously reported as being analysed by this technique: some metal complexes, β-naphthol pigment lakes, BONA pigment lakes, disazopyrazolone, triarylcarbonium, dioxazine, anthraquinone, indanthrone, isoindoline and thioindigo classes. We also report for the first time the Py-GC/MS analysis of a number of naphthol AS, benzimidazolone, phthalocyanine and perylene pigments and other miscellaneous pigments including pigments with unpublished chemical structure. We successfully used the Py-GC/MS technique for the analysis of paints by artists Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock to identify the synthetic organic pigments and the binding media.

Graphical Abstract

Pyrogram of PR49, with fragments produced by pyrolysis


Py-GC/MS Synthetic organic pigments Clyfford Still Jackson Pollock Contemporary art Mass spectrometry 

Supplementary material

216_2014_8370_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (221 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 220 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Ghelardi
    • 1
  • Ilaria Degano
    • 1
  • Maria Perla Colombini
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joy Mazurek
    • 3
  • Michael Schilling
    • 3
  • Tom Learner
    • 3
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica IndustrialeUniversità di PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.ICVBC-CNRSesto FiorentinoItaly
  3. 3.Getty Conservation InstituteLos AngelesUSA

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