Kroller Muller Museum

Otterlo, Netherlands

Kroller Muller Museum

Otterlo, Netherlands
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Monico L.,University of Perugia | Monico L.,University of Antwerp | Janssens K.,University of Antwerp | Miliani C.,University of Perugia | And 15 more authors.
Analytical Chemistry | Year: 2013

The painter, Vincent van Gogh, and some of his contemporaries frequently made use of the pigment chrome yellow that is known to show a tendency toward darkening. This pigment may correspond to various chemical compounds such as PbCrO4 and PbCr1-xSxO4, that may each be present in various crystallographic forms with different tendencies toward degradation. Investigations by X-ray diffraction (XRD), mid-Fourier Transform infrared (FTIR), and Raman instruments (benchtop and portable) and synchrotron radiation-based micro-XRD and X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy performed on oil-paint models, prepared with in-house synthesized PbCrO4 and PbCr1-xSxO4, permitted us to characterize the spectroscopic features of the various forms. On the basis of these results, an extended study has been carried out on historic paint tubes and on embedded paint microsamples taken from yellow-orange/pale yellow areas of 12 Van Gogh paintings, demonstrating that Van Gogh effectively made use of different chrome yellow types. This conclusion was also confirmed by in situ mid-FTIR investigations on Van Gogh's Portrait of Gauguin (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam). © 2012 American Chemical Society.

Monico L.,University of Perugia | Monico L.,University of Antwerp | Janssens K.,University of Antwerp | Vanmeert F.,University of Antwerp | And 7 more authors.
Analytical Chemistry | Year: 2014

The darkening of lead chromate yellow pigments, caused by a reduction of the chromate ions to Cr(III) compounds, is known to affect the appearance of several paintings by Vincent van Gogh. In previous papers of this series, we demonstrated that the darkening is activated by light and depends on the chemical composition and crystalline structure of the pigments. In this work, the results of Part 2 are extended and complemented with a new study aimed at deepening the knowledge of the nature and distribution of Cr and S species at the interface between the chrome yellow paint and the nonoriginal coating layer. For this purpose, three microsamples from two varnished paintings by Van Gogh and a waxed low relief by Gauguin (all originally uncoated) have been examined. Because nonoriginal coatings are often present in artwork by Van Gogh and contemporaries, the understanding of whether or not their application has influenced the morphological and/or physicochemical properties of the chrome yellow paint underneath is relevant in view of the conservation of these masterpieces. In all the samples studied, microscopic X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) and X-ray absorption near edge structure (μ-XANES) investigations showed that Cr(III)-based alteration products are present in the form of grains inside the coating (generally enriched of S species) and also homogeneously widespread at the paint surface. The distribution of Cr(III) species may be explained by the mechanical friction caused by the coating application by brush that picked up and redistributed the superficial Cr compounds, likely already present in the reduced state as result of the photodegradation process. The analysis of the XANES profiles allowed us to obtain new insights into the nature of the Cr(III) alteration products, that were identified as sulfate-, oxide-, organo-metal-, and chloride-based compounds. Building upon the knowledge acquired through the examination of original paint samples and from the investigation of aged model paints in the last Part 4 paper, in this study we aim to characterize a possible relation between the chemical composition of the coating and the chrome yellow degradation pathways by studying photochemically aged model samples covered with a dammar varnish contaminated with sulfide and sulfate salts. Cr speciation results did not show any evidence of the active role of the varnish and added S species on the reduction process of chrome yellows. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

Van Der Snickt G.,University of Antwerp | Janssens K.,University of Antwerp | Dik J.,Technical University of Delft | De Nolf W.,University of Antwerp | And 6 more authors.
Analytical Chemistry | Year: 2012

Over the past years a number of studies have described the instability of the pigment cadmium yellow (CdS). In a previous paper we have shown how cadmium sulfide on paintings by James Ensor oxidizes to CdSO4•H 2O. The degradation process gives rise to the fading of the bright yellow color and the formation of disfiguring white crystals that are present on the paint surface in approximately 50 μm sized globular agglomerations. Here, we study cadmium yellow in the painting "Flowers in a blue vase" by Vincent van Gogh. This painting differs from the Ensor case in the fact that (a) a varnish was superimposed onto the degraded paint surface and (b) the CdS paint area is entirely covered with an opaque crust. The latter obscures the yellow color completely and thus presents a seemingly more advanced state of degradation. Analysis of a cross-sectioned and a crushed sample by combining scanning microscopic X-ray diffraction (μ-XRD), microscopic X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (μ-XANES), microscopic X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) based chemical state mapping and scanning microscopic Fourier transform infrared (μ-FT-IR) spectrometry allowed unravelling the complex alteration pathway. Although no crystalline CdSO4 compounds were identified on the Van Gogh paint samples, we conclude that the observed degradation was initially caused by oxidation of the original CdS pigment, similar as for the previous Ensor case. However, due to the presence of an overlying varnish containing lead-based driers and oxalate ions, secondary reactions took place. In particular, it appears that upon the photoinduced oxidation of its sulfidic counterion, the Cd2+ ions reprecipitated at the paint/varnish interface after having formed a complex with oxalate ions that themselves are considered to be degradation products of the resin and/or oil in the varnish. The SO4 2- anions, for their part, found a suitable reaction partner in Pb2+ ions stemming from a dissolved lead-based siccative that was added to the varnish to promote its drying. The resulting opaque anglesite compound in the varnish, in combination with the underlying CdC2O4 layer at the paint/varnish interface, account for the orange-gray crust that is disfiguring the painting on a macroscopic level. In this way, the results presented in this paper demonstrate how, through a judicious combined use of several microanalytical methods with speciation capabilities, many new insights can be obtained from two minute, but highly complex and heterogeneous paint samples. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

Alfeld M.,University of Antwerp | Van Der Snickt G.,University of Antwerp | Vanmeert F.,University of Antwerp | Janssens K.,University of Antwerp | And 6 more authors.
Applied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing | Year: 2013

The analytical aspects of the investigation of 'Flower Still Life' by Vincent van Gogh and its underlying composition, showing two wrestlers by scanning macro-X-ray Fluorescence Analysis (MA-XRF) was reported. In MA-XRF the painting is excited by an X-ray millibeam to emit X-ray fluorescence radiation. Through the energy of the recorded fluorescence radiation the elements present in the analyzed spot can be identified. The painting was mounted on a motor stage behind the normal experimental table and moved continuously through the beam for scanning. The beam size was defined by a set of slits placed at the end of the experimental table. MA-XRF scans were performed with a step size of 1 mm and a dwell time of 3.6 s. The sample was cross-sectioned and examined using high-resolution microscopic methods. The correction of absorption effects in the Zn-maps allowed to remove otherwise misleading artifacts from hidden layers, so that a more realistic impression of the hidden portrait is gained.

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