Applied Physics A

, Volume 121, Issue 3, pp 891–901 | Cite as

Non-invasive identification of traditional red lake pigments in fourteenth to sixteenth centuries paintings through the use of hyperspectral imaging technique

  • T. Vitorino
  • A. Casini
  • C. Cucci
  • M. J. Melo
  • M. PicolloEmail author
  • L. Stefani
Invited Paper


The present paper, which focuses on the identification of red lake pigments, in particular madder, brazilwood, and cochineal, addresses the advantages and drawbacks of using reflectance hyperspectral imaging in the visible and near-infrared ranges as a non-invasive method of discrimination between different red organic pigments in cultural heritage objects. Based on reconstructions of paints used in the period extending from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, prepared with as far as possible historical accuracy, the analyses by means of visible/near-infrared reflectance hyperspectral imaging were carried out with the objective of understanding the most significant differences between these vegetal- and animal-based red lake pigments. The paper discusses the results that were obtained on four original Italian and North European paintings and compared with those from the paint reconstructions, in order to demonstrate how the hyperspectral imaging technique can be usefully and effectively applied to the identification and mapping of red lake pigments in painted surfaces of interest in the conservation field.


Hyperspectral Imaging Cochineal Carminic Acid Cultural Heritage Object Hyperspectral Imaging Technique 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Cristina Acidini (former head of the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze), as well as the directors and the curators of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Museo del Bargello and Museo di San Marco in Florence, who kindly gave permission for the analysis of the paintings and for their useful discussions. The authors are also grateful to the conservators who were involved in the maintenance and restoration of the investigated paintings for their invaluable support in understanding the composition of the materials constituting the artworks, and for exchange of information. In addition, part of this work was supported by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, COST Action TD1201 Colour and Space in Cultural Heritage (COSCH, Tatiana Vitorino is sincerely grateful to the COST Action TD1201 Management Committee for approving the short-term mission COSTSTSM-ECOST-STSM-TD1201-141013-036659, and to the Portuguese Science Foundation, FCT-MEC, for funding the PhD Grant PD/BD/105902/2014.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Vitorino
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Casini
    • 1
  • C. Cucci
    • 1
  • M. J. Melo
    • 2
  • M. Picollo
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Stefani
    • 1
  1. 1.“Nello Carrara” Institute of Applied Physics of the National Research CouncilSesto FiorentinoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Conservation and Restoration, Faculdade de Ciências e TecnologiaUniversidade Nova de LisboaCaparicaPortugal

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