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Saturday, June 2 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
(Research and Technical Studies) Differential stability of cadmium yellow paints in Picasso’s ‘Femme’

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Pablo Picasso’s ‘Femme’ (c. 1908; Beyeler Foundation, Basel, CH) is an oil study related to ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’. A collaborative, multi-analytical, technical examination of the painting was carried out to answer questions about the artist’s materials and technique during an important, but relatively understudied, period of his career. Of particular technical interest were two yellow passages: a visibly degraded cool lemon yellow and a seemingly intact warm yellow. To understand the nature of the degradation, and to better assess the risk of further alteration, the physical structure of both yellow paints were assessed by visible-light and UV microscopy, and the chemical composition characterized by ESEM-EDS, GC-MS, and μFTIR. Although cadmium sulfide (CdS) and barium sulfate were present in both yellows, the overall elemental composition, size, and distribution of particles suggested two different commercial paint preparations. Visible-light and UV microscopy of prepared cross sections revealed a distinctive boundary between the altered lemon yellow paint towards the surface and an unaltered zone below. Detectably higher concentrations of known CdS alteration products - cadmium carbonate, cadmium sulfate, and cadmium oxalate - were identified by μFTIR in the altered region of the degraded lemon yellow paint. These results suggest the paint underwent photo-oxidative degradation, resulting in both a surface discoloration and the breakdown of the physical structure of the paint film. In contrast, the warm yellow paint samples showed no such evidence of deterioration. In order to map and better characterise the optical emission of the paint and its degradation additional analysis was carried out using in situ fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) of the whole painting, and time-resolved photoluminescence microscopy of microsamples. Analysis revealed significant differences in the fluorescence decay, band gap, and trap state luminescence emissions between the intact and degraded cadmium sulfide yellow across the painting. The results enhance our understanding of degradation pathways present in Femme, which is expected to help guide the painting’s future preservation. Moreover, data suggest that fluorescence lifetime imaging may provide a non-invasive mechanism for monitoring the state of preservation of cadmium sulfide painted layers.

avatar for Douglas MacLennan

Douglas MacLennan

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Douglas MacLennan is an Assistant Scientist in the technical studies research group at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI). His work focuses on the technical examination of a variety of works of art in collaboration with both conservators and curators. His research interests include... Read More →

avatar for Daniela Comelli

Daniela Comelli

Associate Professor, Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Fisica
Daniela Comelli's research activity is focused on the development of optical spectroscopy for material characterization relevant especially in conservation science. Presently, she is responsible of the Italian Research Units within the 3-years international project LeadART (call JPI-CULTURAL... Read More →
avatar for Markus Gross

Markus Gross

Chief Conservator, Fondation Beyeler
Markus Gross was trained at the Conservation-Restauration BFH (Berner Fachhochschule) in Berne, Switzerland (Diploma FH 1993) as a paintings, objects and wallpainting conservator and worked in several museums in Switzerland and as a free-lance conservator until 2001. During this time... Read More →
avatar for Herant Khanjian

Herant Khanjian

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Herant Khanjian received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from California State University, Northridge and has been a member in the Science department of the Getty Conservation Institute since 1988. His research interests involve the detection and identification of organic media... Read More →
avatar for Joy Mazurek

Joy Mazurek

Assistant Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Joy Mazurek is an Associate Scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute. She specializes in the identification of binding media in paint using Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry, the characterization and degradation of plastics, and the application of biological methods to study... Read More →
avatar for Austin Nevin

Austin Nevin

Researcher, CNR-IFN
Austin Nevin, chemist and conservator, is a Researcher at CNR-IFN where he has worked since 2011. His research focuses on the analysis of paintings and painting materials, and the study of ancient and modern cultural heritage using optical and spectroscopic techniques. He is a Council... Read More →
avatar for Catherine Schmidt Patterson

Catherine Schmidt Patterson

Associate Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Catherine Schmidt Patterson received her PhD in physical chemistry at Northwestern University. Her primary areas of research are the use of non- or minimally invasive techniques such as Raman microspectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, technical imaging to study works of art... Read More →
avatar for Alan Phenix-[PA]

Alan Phenix-[PA]

Paintings Conservator; Scientist
Alan Phenix is a paintings conservator, conservation educator and conservation scientist. Recently retired, from November 2006 he was employed as ‘Scientist’ at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), Los Angeles. In his first years at GCI he worked partly for the Museum Research... Read More →
avatar for Karen Trentelman

Karen Trentelman

Senior Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute
Karen Trentelman is head of Technical Studies research, which focuses on the scientific study of works of art to further the understanding and preservation of these works in collaboration with conservators and curators. Current areas of interest include: revealing hidden layers in paintings and manuscripts using noninvasive spectro... Read More →
avatar for Gianluca Valentini

Gianluca Valentini

Professor, Politecnico di Milano, Dipartimento di Fisica

Saturday June 2, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm MDT
Meyerland Meeting Room Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Research and Technical Studies
  • Specialty Tracks Research and Technical Studies
  • Cost Type Included with registration
  • Abstract ID 13791
  • Authors (in order) Douglas MacLennan, Austin Nevin, Alan Phenix, Daniela Comelli, Catherine Schmidt Patterson, Gianluca Valentini, Herant Khanjian, Joy Mazurek, Markus Gross, Laura Rivers, Karen Trentelman