Skip to main content
Log in

Identification of proteinaceous binders used in artworks by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Proper identification of proteinaceous binders in artworks is essential for specification of the painting technique and thus also for selection of the restoration method; moreover, it might be helpful for the authentication of the artwork. This paper is concerned with the optimisation of analysis of the proteinaceous binders contained in the colour layers of artworks. Within this study, we worked out a method for the preparation and analysis of solid samples from artworks using tryptic cleavage and subsequent analysis of the acquired peptide mixture by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time of flight mass spectrometry. To make this approach rational and efficient, we created a database of commonly used binders (egg yolk, egg white, casein, milk, curd, whey, gelatine, and various types of animal glues); certain peaks in the mass spectra of these binders, formed by rich protein mixtures, were matched to amino acid sequences of the individual proteins that were found in the Internet database ExPASy; their cleavage was simulated by the program Mass-2.0-alpha4. The method developed was tested on model samples of ground layers prepared by an independent laboratory and then successfully applied to a real sample originating from a painting by Edvard Munch.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Kuckova S, Nemec I, Hynek R, Hradilova J, Grygar T (2005) Anal Bioanal Chem 382:275–282

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Colombini MP, Modungo F (2004) J Sep Sci 27:147–160

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Carbini M, Stevanato R, Rovea M, Traldi P, Favretto D (1996) Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 10:1240–1242

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Chiavari G, Gandini N, Russo P, Fabbri D (1998) Chromatographia 47:420–426

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Bonaduce I, Colombini MP (2003) Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 17:2523–2527

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Heginbotham A, Millay V, Quick M (2006) J Am Inst Conserv 45:89–105

    Google Scholar 

  7. Ramírez Barat B, de la Vina S (2001) Stud Conserv 46:282–288

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hynek R, Kuckova S, Hradilova J, Kodicek M (2004) Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 18:1896–1900

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Kuckova S, Hradilova J, Kodicek M, Nemec I, Grygar T, Bezdicka P, Hradil D (2005) In: Non-destructive testing and microanalysis for the diagnostics and conservation of the cultural and environmental heritage, Lecce, Italy

  10. Tokarski C, Martin E, Rolando C, Cren-Olive C (2006) Anal Chem 78:1494–1502

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Ma Y, Lu Y, Zeng H, Ron D, Mo W, Neubert TA (2001) Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 15:1693–1700

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Massey R (1967) Formulas for painters. Watson-Guptill, New York

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cited 21 September 2006

  14. Cited 24 April 2006

Download references


The work was supported by a grant from the Czech Ministry of Education (project number 6046137305). We thank restorer Biliana Topalova Casadiego (Munch-Museet, Oslo, Norway) and Karel Stretti from the Academy of Fine Arts for the providing real samples and restorer Hana Kurkova from the Academy of Fine Arts for the preparation of model samples and professional discussions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stepanka Kuckova.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kuckova, S., Hynek, R. & Kodicek, M. Identification of proteinaceous binders used in artworks by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem 388, 201–206 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: