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Twentieth Century Oil Paint. The Interface Between Science and Conservation and the Challenges for Modern Oil Paint Research

Abstract

This chapter introduces recent research related to aspects of the deterioration of modern paintings in oil media. The research was informed by collaboration between conservators and scientists and utilises phenomenological and experimental methodologies to investigate the causes of optical changes in paint, such as efflorescence and salt formation, and the sensitivity to water that occurs on surface cleaning some unvarnished oil paintings. Examples are given of results based on case studies of paintings and the results of systematic experimental investigation of paint samples, including those supplied by manufacturers and reconstructions based on paint formulations. Results of this research are given including the cause of water sensitivity related to the formation of magnesium sulphate hydrate in selected manufactured oil paints, and criteria for further investigation of the phenomena in other paints. Contributions in this volume that address other classes of material deterioration including the formation of metal soap crusts and treatment approaches are introduced.

Keywords

  • Twentieth century oil paint
  • Water sensitivity
  • Efflorescence
  • Collaborative research

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See for an overview of the research undertaken in the 20th Century project: Van den Berg (2013).

  2. 2.

    The presence of drying pigments and driers will promote the oxidative polymerisation process. The presence of alkaline pigments and fillers will promote hydrolysis.

  3. 3.

    Research is currently carried out within the NWO PAinT project by A. van Loon and K. Keune (http://www.s4a-paint.uva.nl/research-topics), partly in collaboration with the authors. See A. van Loon and K. Keune et al., ‘Synchrotron-based studies on the migration of lead soaps in Old Master paintings and model systems’, presented at the Synchrotron Radiation and Neutrons in Art and Archeology Conference, Paris, 9–12 Sept. 2014. Manuscript in preparation for the Conference Proceedings.

  4. 4.

    Oil paint Swatches of batches of paint made by Winsor&Newton from c. 1960–1990 gifted by Ian Garrett to Tate in 2012.

  5. 5.

    (Van den Berg, Burnstock, Pouyet and Cotte, manuscript in preparation).

  6. 6.

    http://archive-org.com/page/491723/2012-10-21/http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/conservation/conservation-projects/axa-reinhardt

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Acknowledgements

Modern oil Paint group at RCE: Luc Megens, Susan de Groot, Ineke Joosten, Henk van Keulen, Matthijs de Keijzer. Laura Hinde, Polly Saltmarsh, Rachel Morrison, Luciana Akerlund, Genevieve Silvester, Laura Mills, Francesca Izzo, Filipe Duarte. Tom Learner, Giacomo Chiari, Dave Carson Getty Conservation Institute. Bronwyn Ormsby, Tate. Ian Garrett Winsor&Newton, Bert Klein Ovink Talens. Katrien Keune, Annelies van Loon, University of Amsterdam. William Luckhurst, Kings College London, Alex Ball Natural History Museum London. Marine Cotte, Emeline Pouyet, ESRF Grenoble.

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Burnstock, A., van den Berg, K.J. (2014). Twentieth Century Oil Paint. The Interface Between Science and Conservation and the Challenges for Modern Oil Paint Research. In: , et al. Issues in Contemporary Oil Paint. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10100-2_1

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