Applied Physics A

, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp 841–848 | Cite as

Micro-analytical study of interactions between oil and lead compounds in paintings

  • M. CotteEmail author
  • E. Checroun
  • J. Susini
  • P. Walter


Oil paintings are complex hybrid materials, made of organic binders associated with inorganic minerals, susceptible to evolving over centuries. In particular, interactions of oil with lead compounds may give rise to the formation of lead soap aggregates, so-called protrusions. This phenomenon is studied here via X-ray and FTIR micro-analysis of an ancient painting dated from 1610. In complement, the synthesis of modern preparations, reconstructed from ancient recipes was assessed. Molecular and atomic images are obtained by combining synchrotron-based FTIR and X-ray fluorescence microscopies. Protrusions are identified in both ancient and modern samples, more particularly, in the ground layer of the paintings, below the colored layer. These observations imply that lead oxide, introduced as a siccative and not as a pigment, may be the element mainly responsible for the protrusions formation, and that this degradation may appear very rapidly on paintings.


Lead Oxide Ground Layer Lead White Colored Layer Cerussite 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (C2RMF), UMR 171 CNRSParisFrance
  2. 2.Institut National du PatrimoineLa Plaine Saint DenisFrance
  3. 3.European Synchrotron Radiation FacilityGrenoble CedexFrance

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