Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Research on new technologies for conservation – restoration of baroque easel paintings

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.09.00  Humanities  Art history   

Code Science Field
H314  Humanities  Preservation and restoration of art works 

Code Science Field
6.04  Humanities  Arts (arts, history of arts, performing arts, music) 
conservation-restoration; baroque painting; easel paintings; art history research; development of identification methods for binders, pigments, dyes
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (18)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  22313  PhD Janez Bernard  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  129 
2.  27655  PhD Sabina Dolenec  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2011 - 2012  446 
3.  11292  PhD Vilma Ducman  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  493 
4.  18801  PhD Marko Fonović  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  173 
5.  33705  Emina Frljak Gašparović  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2011 - 2014  69 
6.  33707  Barbka Gosar Hirci  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2011 - 2014  212 
7.  24078  Sandra Kontrec    Technical associate  2011 - 2014 
8.  22315  PhD Tadeja Kosec  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2011 - 2014  319 
9.  30010  PhD Žiga Nose  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2011 - 2014 
10.  35056  Nadja Ocepek  Humanities  Researcher  2012 - 2014  18 
11.  29537  PhD Sebastijan Peljhan  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2014  57 
12.  12728  PhD Aleš Podgornik  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2011 - 2013  693 
13.  28079  PhD Polonca Ropret  Natural sciences and mathematics  Head  2011 - 2014  277 
14.  12521  PhD Andrijana Sever Škapin  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2011 - 2014  413 
15.  33706  PhD Mateja Neža Sitar  Humanities  Researcher  2011 - 2014  61 
16.  19719  PhD Črtomir Tavzes  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2011 - 2014  189 
17.  23594  PhD Jana Vidič  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2012 - 2014  65 
18.  22451  PhD Petra Živec  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2011 - 2014  44 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  87,054 
2.  1502  Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute  Ljubljana  5866324000  10,102 
3.  1655  Sartorius BIA Separations L.t.d., Separations technology company  Ajdovščina  1319612  1,114 
4.  2316  Institute for the protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia  Ljubljana  1423215  3,682 
The period of baroque painting in Slovenia is represented by nationally important authors, as well as worldwide known painters, e.g. Metzinger, Tintoretto, Liberi, and Rossini. Baroque easel paintings show unique undesirable effects of ageing, mainly due to their material composition, and influence of inappropriate storage conditions in the past. Already in the previous centuries, the original layers showed signs of degradation that can be comprehended from archive notes of previous restoration actions. Nowadays, conservators – restorers are faced with complex colour systems that show degraded or partly degraded original layers, as well as, in most cases, degraded layers of previous inappropriate restoration procedures. Conservation – restoration of these artefacts therefore represents quite a challenge, and demands an analytical approach to solving the artworks’ problems: determination of suitable materials for cleaning, consolidation, stabilisation of original colour layers, procedures for removing of materials of previous inappropriate restoration actions, and determination of suitable materials for retouching and finishing protective layers (varnishes). Prerequisite for fulfilling these tasks is a precise identification of all material components present in the artwork, as well as the determination of processes of their degradation. In our experience and experiences of experts from acclaimed institutions worldwide (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, Washington DC, CNR-ISTM-University of Peruggia, Italy, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, CA, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim, Germany), paint materials made of proteins (egg, casein tempera, glue grounds, egg white varnish,…) as well as traditional organic colorants present a unique challenge from the point of view of their identification. Project goals: a) art history research on previous restoration interventions; b) determination of the palette of materials (pigments, binder systems, finishing protective layers (varnishes), grounds,…) significant for baroque easel paintings in Slovenia on examples of Metzinger’s, Tintoretto’s, Liberi’s, and Rossini’s works of art; c) determination of processes of degradation of these materials on examples of artificially aged model samples; d) on the basis of a); b) and c) results, determination of suitable conservation –restoration materials and technologies in other words to develop new conservation – restoration guidelines for baroque painting; e) to upgrade development of immunological research for protein micro samples, f) to improve identification procedure for traditional organic colorants; and g) to develop new commercial products (kits) for quick, reliable and precise identification of proteins and the palette of materials suitable for restoration of baroque easel paintings. The project is of an essential importance for preservation of Slovene and European cultural heritage in the area of baroque easel paintings. Development of new conservation – restoration directions for preservation of baroque easel paintings will fundamentally alleviate accession to restoration and improve durability of these artefacts. Higher quality of restoration procedures will also prolong the time to the next restoration and therefore lower the costs of preservation of cultural heritage. Determination of the palette of original materials will also enable fundamentally easier and more reliable identification of forgeries, which is of an essential national importance. Development of methods for immunological identification of protein materials, improvement of traditional colorants identification, and knowledge on the degradation processes that occur in complex colour systems, will be an outstanding scientific contribution on the global scale. Development of new market products will open new market opportunities and contribute to the competitive advantage of the two projects partners.
Significance for science
Research results of the “Research on new technologies for conservation – restoration of baroque easel paintings” project are of essential importance for the development of conservation-restoration science, as an interdisciplinary discipline. New achievements in the area of art history, conservation, restoration and natural sciences were accomplished and thus the holistic approach was given to solve the problems of an important part of cultural heritage. The material base of Slovene baroque easel paintings and their responses to conservation – restoration procedures, were investigated, upgraded with the art history research, and critically evaluated, which enabled a holistic approach to baroque easel paintings treatment. This is an outstanding contribution to conservation-restoration science in Slovenia and worldwide, combined with the material library of aged and non-aged samples of binders, pigments and protective layers combinations and the database of analysis thereof, which will serve as a long-lasting base of further research. The new sample preparation method for the identification and characterisation of proteins by ELISA and LC-MS/MS, using chromatographic monolith supports CIM (extraction, purification, separation and concentration), opened a new direction in the research of protein mixtures with difficult-to-remove impurities that alter their properties. The characterisation of pigments' influence on proteins in binders, and their ageing-related degradation processes, studied by the combination of highly powerful analysis techniques of ELISA and LC-MS/MS, is a worldwide novelty. Furthermore, the developed new substrate for Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) for dyes analysis is a worldwide novelty. In addition to important findings that influence the development of conservation-restoration science, the research results of the project also have an impact on the development of other scientific disciplines. For instance, the progress in the identification of traditional organic pigments (the developed new substrate for SERS) influences also the development of the SERS method in areas of biomedicine (e.g. SERS analysis of DNA), biophysics, molecular biology and structural biology (e.g. SERS characterisation of proteins and amino acids). Advances in protein separation from impurities in cultural heritage samples and progress in CIM engineering influence the development of chromatographic methods (analytical chemistry, chemistry of polymers). The realisation of the project has significantly expanded the understanding of the processes that take place during ageing in paint layers of baroque painting, which were previously poorly understood. The original findings of the proposed research on the influence of the accelerated artificial ageing on surface, colorants, binding media, and morphological stability of baroque paints have considerably contributed to the development of conservation and restoration science. Moreover, they are relevant to the development of science in general and in several sub-fields such as the chemistry of colours and biochemistry of proteins. All new discoveries on paint layers’ composition, the processes of their ageing, responses to the conservation-restoration processes, and relevant advance in the development of analytical methods were published in international scientific literature. In order to reach parts of Slovene audience that does not have the access to this literature, selected articles have been featured in national scientific and professional press and in a TV interview. The research, conducted in the frame of the co-financed project, was presented on national and international scientific and professional conferences, which has fruitfully enhanced the discussion and exchange of ideas within the scientific community, an unavoidable precondition for successful development of science.
Significance for the country
Results of the project are of essential importance for Slovenia in the sense of economic and social development. The outcomes of this project provided beneficiaries (BIA Separations d.o.o. and TRC-JUB d.o.o.) with an important input for development of new products that will open new market opportunities and enhance their competitiveness (Sec 12 of this report). Partners in the project have structured a system for characterisation and monitoring of changes that take place during ageing of baroque paints, by integrating established with newly developed analytical methods. This high-tech system can be used to characterise also other paints. Not only the beneficiary, but also other companies in the paint making industry are able to benefit from the results, as they are published publicly. Therefore, the discoveries and development made have similarly stimulating effect on the increase of the products’ quality across the paint manufacture sector. Increased competitiveness of the beneficiaries increases their potential for job retention. The introduction of new analytical methods encourages the industry to create new employments with high added value. The transfer of knowledge and new analytical methodology into industrial practice demonstrates that only the investment in high-quality researchers-analysts enables them to follow the development in the sector, boosted considerably by this project. The project therefore contributed to social cohesion and at the same time to technological development and increase in competitiveness of the companies, and thusly to the transformation to innovative, knowledge-based society. The project results are of an essential importance to preservation of Slovene and European cultural heritage. The developed new conservation–restoration guidelines for the of baroque easel paintings preservation fundamentally improves access to restoration and durability of these artefacts. Higher quality of restoration also prolongs the time to the next intervention and therefore lowers the costs of artworks preservation. The determined palette of original materials enables easier and more reliable identification of forgeries, which is of essential national importance. The outcome of this project is of interest also to art historians, as it enables more reliable provenance, identification of artists' palettes, and the establishment of natural sciences in art history studies. Such an interdisciplinary approach already reaps important discoveries on the world stage, and contributes significantly to improvement in the interpretation of and care for the art, and therefore to sustainable development. There are only a few institutions worldwide, the foreign partners The Metropolitan Museum of Art, CNR-ISTM and University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim amongst them that take on ambitious and technologically well supported research in paints. Such a large research consortium, scientifically diverse but yet balanced, and of high scientific quality, with experience in conservation and restoration, is even harder to find. The collaboration with the well-renowned foreign partners enabled the consortium access to the latest discoveries in this field, and the best position to present the results of the project on the highest level in the international arena. This has increased Slovenia's recognition and credibility as a state that seriously researches and protects its cultural heritage, and is well-embedded in the international endeavour to spur such research. Development and dissemination of analytical methods and the purpose of acquiring knowledge has helped to maintain contacts with the world scientific community in conservation-restoration science, and in all other areas of the project team. The project team included experienced, young scientists, technicians, and PhD students. This helped to educate top-level scientists and experts, which contributed to development of conservation-restoration science and other fields
Most important scientific results Annual report 2012, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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