Report on the Use of a FieldSpec 4 Spectroradiometer for the Non-Invasive Identification of Artists' Materials on Illuminated Manuscripts

The FieldSpec 4 spectroradiometer we received during the Goetz Instrument Support Program award period was used for the non-invasive analysis of a selection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts (10th-16th century) in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK. Since sampling or contact with the artwork is not required, FORS is a very useful method for the technical analysis of manuscripts, for which sampling is very rarely allowed. We analysed selected folios within 23 bound manuscripts, as well as 22 manuscript cuttings and a 17th century colour chart (Trinity College 310.b.6A.8). Green pigments were surveyed on 7 additional manuscripts, and spectra were acquired on 5 paintings at the Hamilton Kerr Institute. Almost 2500 reflectance spectra were collected on the manuscripts alone, and in-depth data processing is still ongoing. In order to correctly identify the different pigments and paint binders used on the manuscripts, we also created a database by acquiring spectra on ‘test samples’ made of historic pigments bound in different media and painted on glass and parchment.


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