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Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy in the Entire VIS-IR Range: a Powerful Tool for the Non-invasive Characterization of Paintings

  • M. Bacci (a1), R. Bellucci (a2), C. Cucci (a1), C. Frosinini (a2), M. Picollo (a1), S. Porcinai (a2) and B. Radicati (a1)...


Fiber optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) in the entire 380 – 11, 000 nm range has been used to non-invasively characterize Leonardo's painting Madonna of the Yarnwinder. A preliminary analysis of the recorded spectra made it possible to obtain useful information concerning the pigments used, previous restoration work, the preparatory layer, and the binding medium. In particular, it was found that Thénard's blue was used in a previous restoration instead of the original ultramarine. As regards the painting technique, typical spectral features of oil binding medium are present in the mid-IR spectra, while near IR spectra reveal the occurrence of clay in the preparatory layer.



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1. Bacci, M., Sensors and Actuators B, 29, 190 (1995).
2. Bacci, M. and Picollo, M., Studies in Conservation, 41 136 (1996); see also
3. Gettens, R. J. and Stout, G. L., Painting Materials, (Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1966) p. 108.
4. Bacci, M., in Modern Analytical Methods in Art and Archaeology, ed. by Ciliberto, E. and Spoto, G., (Chemical Analysis Series, Vol. 155, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 2000) pp. 321361.
5. Berrie, B. H., Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, 33, 307 (1994).
6. Fabbri, M., Picollo, M., Porcinai, S. and Bacci, M., Applied Spectroscopy, 55, 420 (2001) and references therein.
7. Coates, J., “Interpretation of Infrared Spectra. A Practical Approach”, in: Encyclopaedia of Analytical Chemistry, ed. By Meyers, R. A-, (John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2000) pp. 1081510837.
8. Meilunas, R. J., Bentsen, J. G. and Steinberg, A., Studies in Conservation, 35, 33 (1990).
9. Infrared and Raman Users Group, Edition 2000 Spectral Database,


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