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Issue 19, 2013
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Alteration of Asian lacquer: in-depth insight using a physico-chemical multiscale approach

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Abstract

Oriental lacquer has been used in Asian countries for thousands of years as a durable and aesthetic coating material for its adhesive, consolidating, protective and decorative properties. Although these objects are made from an unusual material in Occident, Western museum collections host many lacquerwares. Curators, restorers and scientists are daily confronted with questions of their conservation and their alteration. The characterization of their conservation state is usually assessed through visual observations. However deterioration often starts at the microscopic level and cannot be detected by a simple visual inspection. Often, ageing and deterioration of artworks are connected to physical, mechanical and chemical transformations. Thus new insight into alteration of lacquer involves the monitoring of macro-, microscopic and molecular modifications, and this can be assessed from physico-chemical measurements. Non-invasive (microtopography and Scanning Electron MicroscopySEM) and micro-invasive (infrared micro-spectroscopy using a synchrotron source – SR-μFTIR) investigations were performed to study the degradation processes of lacquers and evaluate their level of alteration. In particular, spectral decomposition and fitting procedure were performed in the 1820–1520 cm−1 region to follow the shift of the C[double bond, length as m-dash]O and C[double bond, length as m-dash]C band positions during lacquer ageing. The present work proves the potential of this physico-chemical approach in conservation studies of lacquers and in the quantification of the state of alteration. It evidences chemical phenomena of alteration such as oxidation and decomposition of a lacquer polymeric network. It also demonstrates for the first time the degradation front of artificially aged lacquer and the chemical imaging of a more than 2000 years old archaeological lacquer by using SR-μFTIR.

Graphical abstract: Alteration of Asian lacquer: in-depth insight using a physico-chemical multiscale approach

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Publication details

The article was received on 28 Mar 2013, accepted on 10 Jul 2013 and first published on 10 Jul 2013


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3AN00608E
Analyst, 2013,138, 5685-5696

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    Alteration of Asian lacquer: in-depth insight using a physico-chemical multiscale approach

    A. Le Hô, C. Duhamel, C. Daher, L. Bellot-Gurlet, C. Paris, M. Regert, M. Sablier, G. André, J. Desroches and P. Dumas, Analyst, 2013, 138, 5685
    DOI: 10.1039/C3AN00608E

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