In 1989 the Getty Conservation Institute's scientific program began developing methodologies to identify binding media in paint. Initial efforts focused on the use of advanced instrumentation; however, recognizing the need for low-tech, low-cost, and user-friendly methods, the Institute developed a kit using medical diagnostic technology for identification of the major binding media types encountered during the conservation of ethnographic art objects. The project also developed and improved thin-layer chromatography tests for detecting binding media components.

Also researched were other methods for analyzing binding media, including the following: advancing the use of infrared microscopy for the study of painting cross sections; analytical strategies for differentiating similar proteinaceous bindings; using an elemental analyzer for determination of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur in binding media samples; and using a separation process in combination with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify major and minor components of a small paint sample. The total outcome of this research contributed to the development of a methodology for radiocarbon dating of paint layers.

Related articles in Conservation, the GCI Newsletter

Related Scientific Research Abstracts

  • 2.16 Consolidation of Ethnographic Objects
  • 2.18 Contemporary Documentary Technical Evidence as the Basis for Scientific Examination of Art Objects
  • 2.20 The Evolution of the Technology of Polychrome Sculptures in the Baroque/Rococo Period in Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • 3.13 A Study of Some California Indian Rock Art Pigments
  • 4.3 Microspectroscopy of Dyes, Pigments, and Varnishes
  • 4.4 The Use of Infrared Microscopy in the Analysis of Cultural Artifacts
  • 4.5 Electron Spin Resonance Studies of Photo-Oxidation and Photo-Decomposition of Polymeric Coatings Used in the Conservation of Antiquities
  • 4.7 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and its Possible Application to Art Conservation
  • 4.8 Development and Application of a Mathematical Model of the Drying Process of Coatings in Conservation
  • 4.10 New Methods of Organic and Inorganic Microanalysis

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