Multiscale X-ray fluorescence mapping complemented by Raman spectroscopy for pigment analysis of a 15th century Breton manuscript
We present complementary multiscale X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) mapping and Raman spectroscopy to analyze pigments in a rare medieval Breton manuscript. Once a codex of 129 parchment leaves in the Bergendal Collection (olim MS 8), the manuscript was sold at auction and then subsequently dismembered page-by-page. The leaves were then disseminated on the open market by the biblioclast. The analysis was performed on 12 illustrated leaves (samples) out of the 92 which were recovered by Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Notre Dame. The combination of elemental mapping with molecular spectroscopy permits an unprecedented analysis of the illuminations in the manuscript. XRF scanning provides both elemental analysis of large-scale objects as well as microscopic examination of individual pigment particles. The XRF mapping indicates distinctive elemental distributions within specific regions of interest. Raman spectroscopy of these selected areas identifies the molecular composition of the pigments. This combination of analytical techniques provides an in-depth characterization of the Breton manuscript on the macro, micro- and molecular levels. The results from different leaves confirm that pigments and inks of illustrated leaves belong to the same palette. The results also show the pigments utilized in illustrations, text, and borders are identical indicating that the manuscript was prepared in a single setting, by a single artisan or a small number of artisans working closely.