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Issue 11, 2012
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Discoloration of the smalt pigment: experimental studies and ab initio calculations

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Abstract

Smalt is a blue pigment used by many European artists in mural and easel paintings, mainly in the period from the XV to XVIII century. It is a potassium glass where cobalt is added to the glassy matrix to get the blue hue. The pigment deteriorates with age, changing its colour from an intense blue to a grey-yellowish hue, causing severe problems in the conservation of the paintings. In this study a set of specimens of smalt dispersed in linseed oil was prepared and artificially aged to simulate the progressive deterioration of the pigment in a painting on canvas. The artificially aged smalt specimens were compared with some samples of naturally aged smalt taken from a banner painted at the end of XV century by Luca Signorelli, the “Baptism of Jesus”. A multi-technique approach, including SEM-EDX, spectro-colorimetry, X-ray absorption spectroscopy and ab initio calculations, was used to understand the progressive discoloration and to reveal its correlation with changes occurring in the pigment structure.

Graphical abstract: Discoloration of the smalt pigment: experimental studies and ab initio calculations

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Article information


Submitted
10 Nov 2011
Accepted
06 Sep 2012
First published
07 Sep 2012

J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2012,27, 1941-1948
Article type
Paper

Discoloration of the smalt pigment: experimental studies and ab initio calculations

I. Cianchetta, I. Colantoni, F. Talarico, F. d'Acapito, A. Trapananti, C. Maurizio, S. Fantacci and I. Davoli, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2012, 27, 1941
DOI: 10.1039/C2JA30132F

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