Study of modern artistic materials using combined spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. Case study: painting with the signature “Picasso”
A painting bearing the signature “Picasso” was investigated and its components – pigments and binders – were characterised using micro-Raman spectroscopy (mRS) combined with other analytical techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM/EDX), Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). We identified the pigments in order to assess chronological inconsistency (anachronistic pigments) with the work of the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) by means of in situ and cross-section analyses by mRS. Using mRS we identified the pigments ‘phthalocyanine blue’, ‘phthalocyanine green’, ‘pyrazolone orange’, ‘anatase’ and ‘rutile’ (titanium dioxide). These results were corroborated by SEM/EDX elemental analysis, which detected Ba, S and Zn among others, so prompting discussion about the use of ready-mixed house paints (Ripolin®). The ground layer was also investigated by mRS, which confirmed the use of rutile (titanium dioxide), calcite and phyllosilicates (Al, Fe). mRS on the white area identified the binding media as beeswax, the most important wax used in art. ATR-FTIR and GC-MS analysis support the presence of a wax and an oil–resin mixture as the binder, described in previous research as being used by Picasso. All the artist materials identified were widely used in art at the beginning of the twentieth century according to the available bibliography and are therefore consistent with the Picasso era. To the best of our knowledge this is the first attempt to investigate a painting related to Picasso using the combination of analytical techniques proposed here.