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The J. Paul Getty Museum has an extensive collection of manuscripts dating from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries, featuring outstanding examples of Ottoman, Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance illumination. Illuminations protected within the pages of a closed book can offer the opportunity to examine works of art in a state close to their original condition.

Working with the Manuscripts Conservation and Curatorial Departments, the staff of the CRL engages in studies regarding the nature of the inks, colorants, and support materials found in manuscripts in order to understand possible deterioration mechanisms—and, in turn, to establish the means to better conserve them. Furthermore, since most illuminators did not sign their work, a thorough understanding of the materials and methods used in their creation can help with attribution by characterizing the work of individual artists or workshops. Manuscript illuminations generally cannot be sampled, and therefore scientific analysis must be conducted using the non-invasive technologies of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and Raman microspectroscopy.

Case Study: Scientific Investigation of Martiín de Murúa's Illustrated Manuscripts (7pp., PDF, 480KB)

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Last updated: June 2009