Abstract

Understanding how painted works of art were constructed, layer-by-layer, requires a range of macroscopic and microscopic X-ray and infrared-based analytical methods. Deconstructing complex assemblies of paints horizontally across a picture and vertically through it provides insight into the detailed production process of the art work and on the painting techniques and styles of its maker. The unwanted chemical transformations that some paint pigments undergo are also detectable; these changes can alter the paint's optical properties. Understanding the chemistry behind such paint degradation gives conservators vital clues to counter these effects and is an invaluable asset in protecting these cultural artefacts for future generations.

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