Mobile depth profiling and sub-surface imaging techniques for historical paintings : a review
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Spectrochimica acta: part B: atomic spectroscopy. - Oxford, 1967, currens
, p. 211-230
University of Antwerp
Hidden, sub-surface paint layers and features contain valuable information for the art-historical investigation of a painting's past and for its conservation for coming generations. The number of techniques available for the study of these features has been considerably extended in the last decades and established techniques have been refined. This review focuses on mobile non-destructive subsurface imaging and depth profiling techniques, which allow for the in-situ investigation of easel paintings, i.e. paintings on a portable support. Among the techniques discussed are: X-ray radiography and infrared reflectography, which are long established methods and are in use for several decades. Their capabilities of element/species specific imaging have been extended by the introduction of energy/wavelength resolved measurements. Scanning macro-X-ray fluorescence analysis made it for the first time possible to acquire elemental distribution images in-situ and optical coherence tomography allows for the non-destructive study the surface paint layers in virtual cross-sections. These techniques and their variants are presented next to other techniques, such as Terahertz imaging, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance depth profiling and established techniques for non destructive testing (thermography, ultrasonic imaging and laser based interference methods) applied in the conservation of historical paintings. Next to selected case studies the capabilities and limitations of the techniques are discussed. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.