Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 409, Issue 12, pp 3187–3197 | Cite as

Micro transflection on a metallic stick: an innovative approach of reflection infrared spectroscopy for minimally invasive investigation of painting varnishes

  • Francesca Rosi
  • Lea Legan
  • Costanza Miliani
  • Polonca Ropret
Research Paper


A new analytical approach, based on micro-transflection measurements from a diamond-coated metal sampling stick, is presented for the analysis of painting varnishes. Minimally invasive sampling is performed from the varnished surface using the stick, which is directly used as a transflection substrate for micro Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) measurements. With use of a series of varnished model paints, the micro-transflection method has been proved to be a valuable tool for the identification of surface components thanks to the selectivity of the sampling, the enhancement of the absorbance signal, and the easier spectral interpretation because the profiles are similar to transmission mode ones. Driven by these positive outcomes, the method was then tested as tool supporting noninvasive reflection FTIR spectroscopy during the assessment of varnish removal by solvent cleaning on paint models. Finally, the integrated analytical approach based on the two reflection methods was successfully applied for the monitoring of the cleaning of the sixteenth century painting Presentation in the Temple by Vittore Carpaccio.

Graphical Abstract

Micro-transflection FTIR on a metallic stick for the identification of varnishes during painting cleanings


Varnishes Micro fourier transform infrared spectroscopy Reflection spectroscopy Artworks Cleaning 



This work was performed with the support of the European Commission through the project Iperion CH, H2020-INFRAIA-2014-2015 (grant no. 654028). The authors thank Maša Kavčič and Barbka Gosar Hirci, Department of Easel Painting, Restoration Center, Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, for a fruitful discussion and help with the cleaning tests on the case study painting Presentation in the Temple by Vittore Carpaccio.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Rosi
    • 1
  • Lea Legan
    • 2
  • Costanza Miliani
    • 1
  • Polonca Ropret
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie Molecolari (CNR-ISTM)Via Elce di sotto 8PerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of SloveniaLjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Museum Conservation InstituteSmithsonian InstitutionSuitlandUSA

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