Issue 1, 2014

Looking beneath Dalí's paint: non-destructive canvas analysis


A new analytical method was developed to non-destructively determine pH and degree of polymerisation (DP) of cellulose in fibres in 19th–20th century painting canvases, and to identify the fibre type: cotton, linen, hemp, ramie or jute. The method is based on NIR spectroscopy and multivariate data analysis, while for calibration and validation a reference collection of 199 historical canvas samples was used. The reference collection was analysed destructively using microscopy and chemical analytical methods. Partial least squares regression was used to build quantitative methods to determine pH and DP, and linear discriminant analysis was used to determine the fibre type. To interpret the obtained chemical information, an expert assessment panel developed a categorisation system to discriminate between canvases that may not be fit to withstand excessive mechanical stress, e.g. transportation. The limiting DP for this category was found to be 600. With the new method and categorisation system, canvases of 12 Dalí paintings from the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (Figueres, Spain) were non-destructively analysed for pH, DP and fibre type, and their fitness determined, which informs conservation recommendations. The study demonstrates that collection-wide canvas condition surveys can be performed efficiently and non-destructively, which could significantly improve collection management.

Graphical abstract: Looking beneath Dalí's paint: non-destructive canvas analysis

Article information

Article type
03 Jul 2013
28 Aug 2013
First published
12 Sep 2013
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Anal. Methods, 2014,6, 86-96

Looking beneath Dalí's paint: non-destructive canvas analysis

M. Oriola, A. Možir, P. Garside, G. Campo, A. Nualart-Torroja, I. Civil, M. Odlyha, M. Cassar and M. Strlič, Anal. Methods, 2014, 6, 86 DOI: 10.1039/C3AY41094C

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity