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High-energy X-rays shine light on mystery of Picasso's paints
Date:2/7/2013

the paint pigments from the chemical components in the binders, fillers, other additives and contaminates that were mixed in with the pigments or layered on top of them. Only the nanoprobe at the APS/CNM can distinguish that level of detail: elemental composition and nanoscale distribution of elements within individualized submicrometeric pigment particles.

"The nanoprobe at the APS/CNM allowed unprecedented visualization of information about chemical composition within a singe grain of paint pigment, significantly reducing doubt that Picasso used common house paint in some of his most famous works," said Rose, co-lead author on the result publication titled "High-Resolution Fluorescence Mapping of Impurities in the Historical Zinc Oxide Pigments: Hard X-ray Nanoprobe Applications to the Paints of Pablo Picasso."

The nanoprobe's high spatial resolution and micro-focusing abilities gave it the unique ability to identify individual chemical elements and distinguish between the size of paint particles crushed by hand in artists' studios and those crushed even smaller by manufacturing equipment. The nanoprobe peered deeper than previous similar paint studies limited to a one-micrometer viewing resolution. The nanoprobe gave scientists an unprecedented look at 30-nanometer-wide particles of paint and impurities from the paint manufacturing process. For comparison, a typical sheet of copier paper is 100,000 nanometers thick.

Using the nanoprobe, scientists were able to determine that Picasso used enamel paint to create in 1931 The Red Arm Chair, on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. They were also able to determine the paint brand and from what manufacturing region the paint originated.

X-ray analysis of white paints produced under the Ripolin brand and used in artists' traditional tube paints revealed that both contained nearly contaminate-free zinc oxide pigment. However, artists' tube paints contained more fillers of other w
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Contact: Tona Kunz
tkunz@anl.gov
630-252-5560
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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