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Hendrickx R.,Swiss Institute for Art Research SIK ISEA | Desmarais G.,Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology | Desmarais G.,ETH Zurich | Weder M.,Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Cultural Heritage | Year: 2016

Canvas paintings may show significant dimensional changes and experience internal stresses with fluctuating relative humidity. The relatively high and rapid absorption and drying of moisture within the different layers makes them more vulnerable than panel or wall paintings in comparable conditions. The dynamics of the moisture response is controlled by the water vapour permeability of the different layers. This paper presents a quantitative investigation of the vapour sorption and permeability of a selection of canvas painting components and of reconstructed paintings made of them. The selection of test samples was based on a survey of the materials used by Cuno Amiet in his early work and encompasses linen canvas, collagen glue sizing, chalk-glue ground and brown umber pigmented oil paint. Dynamic Vapour Sorption (DVS) tests were performed to obtain sorption isotherms. The vapour permeability was analysed in terms of the vapour resistance of layers and measured by means of wet cup and dry cup tests as well as in double chamber tests. The principle of incremental resistances was used to discriminate between the properties of the different layers. Whereas glue and canvas are comparable in being strongly absorbent, it appears that their vapour resistance is very different: a continuous glue film has a much higher vapour resistance than a canvas. In this context, we found that the method of applying glue sizing on a canvas influences the permeability of the resulting sized canvas: a gel size forms a more continuous glue film and hence leads to higher vapour resistance of the system, as opposed to a liquid size. Chalk-glue grounds have low moisture sorption, when compared to the high absorption of the proteinaceous glue, because they consist largely of chalk particles, which are not hygroscopic. The umber oil paint stands out for its low sorption and its high resistance to vapour transfer. These results characterise the highly heterogeneous nature of the multi-layered system of a painting in a quantitative way, enabling to better interpret damage phenomena and to make computational predictions of the influence of changing boundary conditions. © 2016 Elsevier Masson SAS.

Boon J.J.,Swiss Institute for Art Research SIK ISEA | Boon J.J.,FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics | Hendrickx R.,Swiss Institute for Art Research SIK ISEA | Eijkel G.,FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics | And 3 more authors.
Applied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing | Year: 2015

Easel paintings on canvas are subjected to alteration mechanisms triggered or accelerated by moisture. For the study of the spatial distribution and kinetics of such interactions, a moisture exposure chamber was designed and built to perform neutron radiography experiments. Multilayered sized and primed canvas samples were prepared for time-resolved experiments in the ICON cold neutron beamline. The first results show that the set-up gives a good contrast and sufficient resolution to visualise the water uptake in the layers of canvas, size and priming. The results allow, for the first time, real-time visualisation of the interaction of water vapour with such layered systems. This offers important new opportunities for relevant, spatially and time-resolved material behaviour studies and opens the way towards numerical modelling of the process. These first results show that cellulose fibres and glue sizing have a much stronger water uptake than the chalk–glue ground. Additionally, it shows that the uptake rate is not uniform throughout the thickness of the sized canvas. With prolonged moisture exposure, a higher amount of water is accumulating at the lower edge of the canvas weave suggesting a decrease in permeability in the sized canvas with increased water content. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Gervais C.,Swiss Institute for Art Research SIK ISEA | Gervais C.,University of Bern | Boon J.J.,Swiss Institute for Art Research SIK ISEA | Boon J.J.,JAAP Enterprise for MOLART Advice | And 2 more authors.
Applied Physics A: Materials Science and Processing | Year: 2013

The study of the early oeuvre of the Swiss painter Cuno Amiet (1868-1961) has revealed that, up to 1907, many of his grounds were hand applied and are mainly composed of chalk, bound in protein. These grounds are not only lean and absorbent, but also, as Synchrotron radiation X-ray microtomography has shown, porous. Our approach to the characterization of pore structure and quantity, their connectivity, and homogeneity is based on image segmentation and application of a clustering algorithm to high-resolution X-ray tomographic data. The issues associated with the segmentation of the different components of a ground sample based on X-ray imaging data are discussed. The approach applied to a sample taken from "Portrait of Max Leu" (1899) by Amiet revealed the presence of three sublayers within the ground with distinct porosity features, which had not been observed optically in cross-section. The upper and lower layers are highly porous with important connectivity and thus prone to water uptake/storage. The middle layer however shows low and nonconnected porosity at the resolution level of the X-ray tomography images, so that few direct water absorption paths through the entire sample exist. The potential of the method to characterize porosity and to understand moisture-related issues in paint layer degradation are discussed. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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