Visualising iron gall ink underdrawings in sixteenth century paintings in-situ by micro-XRF scanning (MA-XRF) and LED-excited IRR (LEDE-IRR)

  • Until today, iron gall ink is classified as an exceptional underdrawing material for paintings. Its study and definite identification is usually based on invasive analysis. This article presents a new non-destructive approach using micro-X-ray fluorescence scanning (MA-XRF), LED-excited IRR (LEDE-IRR) based on a narrow wavelength-range of infrared radiation (IR) for illumination and stereomicroscopy for studying and visualising iron gall ink underdrawings. To assess possibilities and limits of these analytical techniques, the approach was tested on panel paintings by Hans Holbein the Elder and Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano. Results are compared to invasive examinations on cross-sections using scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX). The holistic setup could successfully visualise iron gall ink underdrawings, allowing to harness the formerly invisible underdrawing lines for interdisciplinary studies.

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Author:Mareike GerkenORCiD, Jochen SanderGND, Christoph KrekelORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Heritage Science
Publisher:Chemistry Central
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2022/06/08
Date of first Publication:2022/06/08
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/12/04
Tag:Cima da Conegliano; Holbein the Elder; IRR; Iron gall ink; LEDE-IRR; MA-XRF; Microscopy; Panel paintings; Sixteenth century; Underdrawing
Issue:art. 78
Article Number:78
Page Number:16
First Page:1
Last Page:16
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. This research was funded by Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Stiftung, Mannheim, Germany and the Städel Museum Frankfurt. The funders had no role in the design of the study, in the collection, analysis or interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript or in the decision to publish the results.
Institutes:Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 54 Chemie / 540 Chemie und zugeordnete Wissenschaften
7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 75 Malerei / 750 Malerei, Gemälde
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International