Unexpected presence of 14C in inorganic pigment for an absolute dating of paintings

Beck, Lucile (Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, CNRS, Paris, France) ; Messager, Cyrielle (Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, CNRS, Paris, France) ; Caffy, Ingrid (Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, CNRS, Paris, France) ; Delqué-Kolic, Marion (Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, CNRS, Paris, France) ; Perron, Marion (Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, CNRS, Paris, France) ; Dumoulin, Jean-Pascal (Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, CNRS, Paris, France) ; Moreau, Christophe (Laboratoire de mesure du carbone 14, CNRS, Paris, France) ; Degrigny, Christian (Haute Ecole Arc Conservation-Restauration, HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and arts Western Switzerland) ; Serneels, Vincent (Uninversité de Fribourg, Switzerland)

The absolute dating of paintings is crucial for tackling the problem of fake art. Investigations to authenticate paintings rely on an advanced knowledge of art history and a collection of scientific techniques. Radiocarbon dating is the only technique that gives access to an absolute time scale, but its application is limited to organic materials such as wood, canvas or natural binder. Extending absolute dating to inorganic pigments would make it possible to overcome the lack of available materials for dating easel and mural paintings. Here, we present a novel technique permitting paintings that contain inorganic pigment to be radiocarbon dated. We report results obtained on lead white that was the major white pigment used from Antiquity to the 20th century. We demonstrate that its manufacture is the key point for an absolute and reliable dating. We report an unprecedented use of 14C to date 14th to 16th century wall paintings. Since lead white was extensively used by the greatest artists, we anticipate that this study will open new avenues for detecting forgeries on the art market and for museums.


Keywords:
Article Type:
scientifique
Faculty:
Design et Arts visuels
Branch:
Conservation
School:
HE-Arc CR
Institute:
Unité de recherche en Conservation-restauration de la Haute Ecole Arc - UR-ARC CR
Subject(s):
Conservation - Restauration
Date:
2020-10
Pagination:
10
Published in:
Scientific reports
Numeration (vol. no.):
2020,10, 1, 9582
DOI:
ISSN:
2045-2322
External resources:
Appears in Collection:



 Record created 2021-03-10, last modified 2021-03-10

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