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

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Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to Stepanka Kuckova.

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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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-007-1206-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-007-1206-2

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