Applied Physics A

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 25–33 | Cite as

Vibrational and electronic properties of painting lakes

  • C. Clementi
  • B. Doherty
  • P.L. Gentili
  • C. Miliani
  • A. Romani
  • B.G. Brunetti
  • A. Sgamellotti


Naturally occurring dyes have been used to produce painting pigments, called lakes, by precipitation or adsorption of an organic dyestuff onto an insoluble inorganic substrate. Most natural dyes link to metal cations, by means of coordination bonds. The stable complexes formed precipitate together with solid amorphous hydrous aluminum oxide in alkaline solutions, yielding a hybrid material called a lake. Conventional chromatographic methods for lake analysis require dye extraction from the substrate; as a consequence, they do not provide any information about the organo-metallic complexes. In this work a comprehensive investigation based on X-ray fluorescence, Fourier transform infrared and UV–visible absorption and emission spectroscopies was carried out on 13 organic pigments derived from eight different natural sources. Three different kinds of substrate containing aluminum hydroxide were distinguished dependent on different preparation procedures. Information concerning the recipe and the dye composition was obtained by UV–visible spectroscopies. Dyes from different sources (animal or vegetal) could be distinguished. This study shows that the combined use of different spectroscopic techniques provides complementary information to high-performance liquid chromatography and therefore can be proposed for a molecular non-invasive investigation of these materials on works of art.


Cochineal Organic Pigment Potash Alum Painting Lake Amorphous Aluminum Hydroxide 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Clementi
    • 1
  • B. Doherty
    • 1
  • P.L. Gentili
    • 2
  • C. Miliani
    • 1
    • 3
  • A. Romani
    • 1
    • 2
  • B.G. Brunetti
    • 1
  • A. Sgamellotti
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.SMAArt, Department of ChemistryPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversità di PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  3. 3.CNR-ISTM, Department of ChemistryPerugiaItaly

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