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Keywords:

  • art objects;
  • binding media;
  • derivatisation;
  • gas chromatography-mass spectrometry;
  • organic polymers

Abstract

Within the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM), Vienna, three off-line GC-MS analytical procedures for the identification of natural organic media have been refined, tested, and validated for the use in investigating original, historic works of art. The analysis of a sample from a Greek terracotta statue suggested that the white ground layer of the polychromy, still partly present today, contained a gum-based binding medium. Furthermore, a procedure for the simultaneous analysis of oils, waxes and resins was applied to the identification of the composition of the varnish layer from the 16th century painting “Lucretia” by Jacopo Negretti (1480–1528). In addition, in a collaboration with the Department for Conservation and Restoration, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, a series of samples from paintings on wooden panels from the Buddhist temple complex in Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India, was investigated for the presence of proteinaceous binding media.