23 April 2010

Thesis: Case studies of Naples Yellow and discoloured Smalt (2003)

Title: Scientific analysis of historical paint and the implications for art history and art conservation. The case studies of Naples Yellow and discoloured Smalt.
Author: Joris Dik
University: University of Amsterdam
Year: 2003
Pages: 159
ISBN: 9090164790
Type of document: Thesis
Link: http://dare.uva.nl/... (pdf)

This thesis describes a research project in the field of technical art history. Subjects of this study are the production history of Naples Yellow and the discolouration of smalt. Naples Yellow, or lead antimonate yellow, is the most important synthetic yellow pigment in the history of the visual arts. The usage of lead antimonate covers a period of more than 3500 years, the first application of the pigment dating back to the 18th Egyptian dynasty (ca. 1500 BC). The production history of the pigment, notably over the past few centuries, is rather diverse and not well understood. This research project focussed on the European history of the pigment from the 16th to 19th century. The aim of this study was to describe different manufacturing methods and, subsequently, different forms of lead antimonate used at different periods over time. Secondly, the discolouration phenomenon of the blue painting pigment smalt was studied. Based on a number of analytical techniques a digital reconstruction showing the approximate original appearance of a smalt-discoloured painting.

Table of contents (short version):
Chapter I. Principles, Methods and Pitfalls
Chapter II. Early Production Recipes of Lead Antimonate Yellow in Italian Art
Chapter III. Northern European 18th century Lead Antimonate Yellow
Chapter IV. 19th century Naples Yellow Re-examined
Chapter V. Lead Isotope Analysis of Lead Antimonate Yellows
Chapter VI. The Digital Reconstruction of a Smalt Discoloured Painting by Hendrik Ter Brugghen

Note: Unfortunately the thesis digitisation is poor and the text is only partially readable.

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