Publication
Title
The use of microscopic X-ray diffraction for the study of HgS and its degradation products corderoite ($\alpha-Hg_{3}S_{2}Cl_{2}$), kenhsuite ($\gamma-Hg_{3}S_{2}Cl_{2}$) and calomel ($Hg_{2}Cl_{2}$) in historical paintings
Author
Abstract
 Since antiquity, the red pigment mercury sulfide (α-HgS), called cinnabar in its natural form or vermilion red when synthetic, was very often used in frescoes and paintings, even if it was known to suffer occasionally from degradation. The paint hereby acquires a black or silver-grey aspect. The chemical characterization of these alteration products is rather challenging mainly because of the micrometric size and heterogeneity of the surface layers that develop and that are responsible for the color change. Methods such as electron microscopy, synchrotron-based microscopic X-ray fluorescence, microscopic X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy, Raman microscopy and secondary ion microscopy have been previously employed to identify the (Hg- and S-) compounds present and to study their co-localization. Next to these, also microscopic X-ray diffraction (XRD) (either by making use of laboratory X-ray sources or when used at a synchrotron facility) allows the identification of the crystal phases that are present in degraded HgS paint layers. In this paper we employ these various forms of micro-XRD to analyze degraded red paint in different paintings and compare the results with other X-ray based methods. Whereas the elemental analyses of the degradation products revealed, next to mercury and sulfur, the presence of chlorine, X-ray diffraction allowed the identification, next to α-HgS, of the Hg and S-containing compound calomel (Hg2Cl2) but also of the Hg, S and Cl-containing minerals corderoite (α-Hg3S2Cl2) and kenhsuite (γ-Hg3S2Cl2). These observations are consistent with X-ray absorption spectroscopy measurements performed at the S- and Cl-edges.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Journal of analytical atomic spectrometry. - London
Publication
London : 2011
ISSN
0267-9477
Volume/pages
26:5(2011), p. 959-968
ISI
000289731900011
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
UAntwerpen
 Faculty/Department Research group [E?say:metaLocaldata.cgzprojectinf] Structure analysis of hard and soft condensed matter using synchrotron radiation (ESRF-DUBBLE). Publication type Subject Affiliation Publications with a UAntwerp address