Examination of Colour Changes due to the Fading of Prussian Blue in Danish Golden Age Paintings (1800-1850)

Project: Research

Project Details


MOLAB Trans National Access provided by the Eu-funded project IPERION-CH (Horizon 2020 framework programme).
Short Description of the project:
The project aims at increasing the understanding of the fading of blue paint layers in 19th century paintings belonging to the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) – the national gallery of Denmark. The selected artworks, some of the highlights of the SMK Danish Golden Age collection, were painted by Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Christen Købke and Johan Christian Dahl between 1800 and late 1830s.
Visual examination of the paintings at the SMK conservation department during restoration treatment indicated that a significant degree of fading had occurred in a number of cases in some areas of blue paint, though not in all blue areas. The occurrence was initially suggested by the different appearance of the paint along the edges of the paintings which had a brighter blue tone where they had been protected from the light by the rebate of the frame.
Preliminary investigations have pointed out the presence of Prussian blue - a widely used pigment already notorious at that time for its poor light-fastness, especially when mixed with white pigments and/or extenders.
The aim of this project is to map and understand the degradation of Prussian blue and lead white admixtures in Danish Golden Age paintings using non-invasive portable techniques. Therefore the MOLAB multi-technique approach would allow an overall non-invasive study of the blue paint layers of the artworks, with a deeper focus on spectroscopic investigations. The study carried out on the paintings would be complemented with investigations on Prussian blue mock-ups, artificially aged and not, as a follow up on results obtained by other groups as reported in the literature. The final goal is a clearer understanding of the degradation process in the blue paint layers correlated with their sources and/or origin of production in order to improve conservation, preservation and exhibition strategies.
Dissemination: Data related to the project were presented in a poster at the CHEMCH2016 conference in July 2016.
Effective start/end date14/12/201518/12/2015