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Featured article - Realizing sensations: analyzing Paul Cezanne’s watercolors and assessing their light sensitivity with microfade testing

The exhibition Cézanne Drawing at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) brought together an exceptional group of works on paper from public and private collections across the globe. Recognizing the inherent light sensitivity of both the paper and watercolors, controlling, and tracking light exposure was central to the exhibition planning. This concern also led to a systematic study of three watercolors in the museum’s collection, Foliage (1895), Study of Trees (1895), and Mont Sainte-Victoire (1902-06), to characterize the watercolor paints used by Cezanne in these works and their sensitivity to light exposure, and to better understand the condition of the drawings based on the palette’s chemistry. Examination and analysis were undertaken non-invasively and micro-invasively with the following techniques: Infrared Reflectography (IRR), Ultraviolet Fluorescence Photography (UVF), Raman and surface-enhanced Raman (SERS) spectroscopies in addition to X-Ray fluorescence analysis on small spots and large areas using portable (p-XRF) and XRF scanning, respectively. The palette for these three watercolor drawings includes lead white, bone black, vermilion, yellow ochre, chrome yellow, emerald green, viridian, cobalt blue, and synthetic alizarin and carmine lakes. Microfade testing (MFT) was performed on the paper support and spots with each identified pigment, and the data acquired was evaluated both for color change and rate of color change. Together these techniques inform the future display and loan of these and similarly fugitive watercolors in Cézanne’s oeuvre.

Image: Details of Foliage a, b and Study of Trees c, d under normal a, c and UV b, d illumination, illustrating the protective effect of emerald green (UV-absorbent dark stroked) on the paper, which appears mottled in Study of Trees because of the more densely executed Foliage. The images for Study of Trees are mirrored to illustrate this effect

Featured collection - Thoroughly Modern: Investigating Materials and Techniques

This collection highlights collaborative ways in which scientists, conservators and curators work within and across institutions at documenting and contextualizing the materials and working methods of a global group of artists active in the late 19th and early to mid 20th century. The articles presented here include discussions on artist palettes and medium choices, art historical background, object condition,  and preventive conservation. These discussions are greatly informed by the non-invasive and micro-invasive analysis,  running the gamut from microscopic to spectroscopic to technical imaging including chemical mapping. This body of research aims at shedding new light on emblematic works and understudied ones, and improve our understanding of the way artists used innovative materials born out of modernity.

Image: Details of technical imaging of Matisse's The Red Studio (1911), Giorgio de Chirico's The Evil Genius of a King (1914-15), Seraphine Louis' Fruits (c. 1929-30) and Jackson Pollock's Number 1A, 1948 (1948).



Advanced Analytical Techniques for Heritage Textiles
Edited by Christina Margariti, Hana Lukesova, Francisco B. Gomes
Collection published: 2 November 2022

The Future of Heritage Science and Technologies: Papers from Florence Heri-Tech 2022
Edited by Rocco Furferi , Maria Perla Colombini, Kate Seymour, Anna Pelagotti, Francesco Gherardini
Collection published: 19 October 2022

IPERION HS: Integrating Platforms for the European Research Infrastructure on Heritage Science
Edited by Marei Hacke, Jana Striova, Matija Strlič
Collection published: 7 September 2022

Preventive Conservation, Predictive Analysis and Environmental Monitoring
Edited by Ángel F. Perles, Laura Fuster-López, Emanuela Bosco
Collection published: 3 August 2022 

Thoroughly Modern: Investigating Materials and Techniques
Edited by Ana Martins, Abed Haddad
Collection published: 25 May 2022


Cleaning and Conservation
Edited by Bronwyn Ormsby, Angelica Bartoletti, Klaas van den Berg, Chis Stavroudis
Collection published: 3 November 2021

Space Technologies for Sustainable Heritage: 10th Anniversary of HIST
Collection published: 1 June 2021


The Network Initiative for Conservation Science (NICS): Building Bridges across New York City Museums
Edited by Federica Pozzi and Elena Basso
Collection published: 8 August 2020

Pigments, dyes, and colors in Latin american archaeometric investigations
Edited by Marcela Sepulveda, Edgar Casanova
Collection published: 20 May 2020


NANORESTART: Nanomaterials for the restoration of works of art
Edited by Piero Baglioni
Collection published: 31 October 2019

The Girl in the Spotlight: A technical re-examination of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring
Edited by Abbie Vandivere
Collection published: 29 August 2019

13th IRUG Conference
Edited by Paula Dredge
Collection published: 16 August 2019


5th International Congress on Chemistry for Cultural Heritage
Edited by Dr Elena Badea
Collection published: 23 November 2018

Manuscripts in the Making
Edited by Dr Paola Ricciardi
Collection published: 9 March 2018


Historic Monuments of the World
Collection published: 10 October 2017

2nd International Conference on Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage, and Archaeology
Edited by Prof. Heather Viles, Dr Yun Lieu and Dr Karina Rodriguez Echavarria
Collection published: 30 January 2017

4th International Congress on Chemistry for Cultural Heritage
Edited by Dr Geert van der Snickt
Collection published: 24 January 2017


Heritage Science in Australia
Collection published: 22 December 2016

The SEAHA-CDT collection
Edited by: Dr Josep Grau-Bove
Collection published: 7 November 2016

Shedding light on the past: Optical Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage
Edited by: Prof. Demetrios Anglos
Collection published: 14 April 2016


Imaging and Analysis of Cultural Heritage Materials
Edited by: Dr Edward Vicenzi
Collection published: 1 December 2015

11th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality in Heritage and Historic Environments
Edited by: Dr Jiri Smolik
Collection published: 22 September 2015

Archaeometry international workshop: XRF and Raman applied in archaeology
Edited by: Dr Marcela Sepulveda
Collection published: 11 June 2015

3rd International Congress on Chemistry for Cultural Heritage
Edited by: Prof. Manfred Schreiner, Dr Rita Wiesinger
Collection published: 2 April 2015


VIII Italian National Congress of Archaeometry
Edited by: Prof Colombini Maria Perla, Dr Alessandra Bonazza
Collection published: 15 December 2014

Technart 2013: Analytical Spectroscopy in Art and Archaeology, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 23-26 September 2013
Collection published: 30 May 2014


Scientific Methods in Archaeology
Edited by: Dr Kaare Lund Rasmussen
Collection published: 6 June 2013

International Conference on Modern Chemical Technology in the Protection of Cultural Heritage, China 2012
Edited by: Prof Ling He
Collection published: 15 April 2013

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Heritage Science welcomes proposals for new special article collections on timely topics relating to its aims and scope. If you have a suggestion for a topical collection that you think should be featured in the journal, please click on the link to access a suggestion form. 

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Aims and Scope

Heritage Science is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research covering scientific, mathematical and computational methods and analysis of objects, materials, artefacts and artworks of cultural and historical significance in the context of heritage and conservation studies.

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Editor-in-Chief Professor Richard BreretonRichard Brereton, Editor-in-Chief
Prof Richard Brereton is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Statistical Society and Royal Society of Medicine. He graduated with a BA, MA and PhD from the University of Cambridge. He has published some 400 articles, including 8 books, and has been cited around 4500 times. He has given over 150 invited lectures in 30 countries. 

He is currently director of Brereton Consultancy and Emeritus Professor at the University of Bristol. His interests are primarily in data analysis, including pattern recognition as applied to primarily analytical data from various sources including objects of cultural significance.

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