Spectroscopic Analysis of Pigments and Binding Media of Polychromes by the Combination of Optical Laser-Based and Vibrational Techniques

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Four spectroscopic techniques, Fourier transform Raman (FTR), Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR), laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), and laser-induced fluorescence (LIF), are employed to characterize the pigment and binding media composition of polychromes. Raman spectra allow the assignment of the main pigments; these are α-HgS (vermilion), 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2 (lead white), As2S3 (orpiment), Pb3O4 (lead red), and amorphous Carbon. The IR spectra can readily identify the pigment 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2, the binder CaSO4·2H2O (gypsum) and, in combination with the Raman results, the presence of organic constituents of the binding media such as aliphatic esters, free acids, carbohydrates, and amides. The elemental analysis provided by LIBS corresponds to the pigments identified by the previous techniques and shows in addition the presence of some Hg, Fe, and Pb containing components. The presence of a Hg derivative in some of the sampled areas is supported by the LIF analysis; the fluorescence spectrum is mainly assigned to the binding media with the spectral intensity and shape modified to some extent by the contribution of pigments. In some of the samples studied, a peak assigned to α-HgS is observed. The effect of low intensity KrF laser irradiation of the samples is examined; the combined observations point toward a laser cleaning effect except in the areas that contain the pigment 2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2.
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