Chemical Fingerprinting of Ready-Mixed House Paints of Relevance to Artistic Production in the First Half of the Twentieth Century. Part I: Inorganic and Organic Pigments
Abstract:This study reports the multi-analytical investigation of ready-mixed house paints used by artists such as Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) in the first half of the twentieth century. The pigment composition of paint swatches on four historic paint sample cards from the Art Institute of Chicago reference collection was characterized by thorough screening using Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopies, followed by Raman spectroscopy when necessary. Spectroscopic investigations highlighted the dominance of zinc-based whites, the consistent choice of particular pigments or their mixtures, as well as the avoidance of others to achieve the various hues on the sample cards. Notable findings included the documentation of strong spectroscopic signatures of metal soaps. Given the similarities in composition of early twentieth century artists' and house paints, the results indicate that the identification of house paints in works by Pablo Picasso and others must be based on a combination of parameters rather than the detection of a single chemical marker. Results have been applied to the case study of Picasso's 1935 sculpture Figure (AIC 1988.428), which incorporates direct evidence of the use of house paint by the artist.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2009
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