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UV ageing studies: evaluation of lightfastness declarations of commercial acrylic paints


The lightfastness declarations of several different commercial acrylic paints and different quality series were tested by artificial UV ageing. To evaluate their lightfastness declarations, three acrylic colours (cadmium red, ultramarine blue and chromium oxide green) from six companies (Lascaux, Liquitex, Lukas, Rembrandt, Schmincke, and Winsor & Newton) were analysed before and after UV exposure. Characterisation and identification of these materials were carried out with Py–GC/MS, FTIR–ATR analyses, and colour measurements. Particular attention was focused on the Py–GC/MS measurements and on comparison of the single-shot method for pyrolysis of polymers and the double-shot mode which enables a unique combination of pyrolysis methods for analysis of polymers and thermal desorption for documentation of the volatile compounds. Depending on the particular company and the specific value of the lightfastness declaration, different binding media (i.e. poly(EA/MMA), poly(nBA/MMA), and poly(2-EHA/MMA)), and fillers (i.e. kaolinite, calcium carbonate, barite, and talc) were characterised and identified by Py–GC/MS and FTIR–ATR analyses. After UV exposure, several alteration processes with consequent formation of volatile compounds or new products were observed by both techniques, especially for the blue paints. In particular, the double-shot mode of Py–GC/MS enabled the detection of oxidation products, which could not be detected with the single-shot mode. Comparison of the lightfastness declarations for each of the blue, green, and red paints and the noted alterations broadly agreed for most of the paints.

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This work was funded by Regione Sardegna (Italy), “Programma Master and Back anno 2009” Alta Formazione and the Austrian Science Fund, project no. L699-N17. We thank Oscar Chiantore (Department of I.P.M. Chemistry and Nanostructured Interfaces and Surfaces-Centre of Excellence, University of Torino, Italy) for fruitful discussion and valuable cooperation on ageing studies of acrylic materials. We also thank Rebecca Ploeger (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA) for openly sharing her knowledge and for helping with the English corrections. Moreover, we are grateful to Antonia Cecini (Faculty of Chemistry, University of Pavia, Italy) for carrying out the FTIR–ATR and colour-measurement analyses.

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Correspondence to Valentina Pintus.

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Published in the special issue Analytical Techniques in Art, Archaeology and Conservation Science with guest editor Oliver Hahn.

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Pintus, V., Wei, S. & Schreiner, M. UV ageing studies: evaluation of lightfastness declarations of commercial acrylic paints. Anal Bioanal Chem 402, 1567–1584 (2012).

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  • Py–GC/MS
  • Double-shot technique
  • Acrylic modern paints
  • Lightfastness index
  • UV ageing