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Thermal Decomposition of Lead White for Radiocarbon Dating of Paintings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 July 2019

Lucile Beck
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Cyrielle Messager
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Stéphanie Coelho
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Ingrid Caffy
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Emmanuelle Delqué-Količ
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Marion Perron
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Solène Mussard
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Jean-Pascal Dumoulin
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Christophe Moreau
Affiliation:
Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14), LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Victor Gonzalez
Affiliation:
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg 5, 2628 CD Delft, The Netherlands
Eddy Foy
Affiliation:
LAPA-IRAMAT, NIMBE, CEA, CNRS, Université Paris-Saclay, CEA Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Frédéric Miserque
Affiliation:
DEN Service de la Corrosion et du Comportement des Matériaux dans leur Environnement (SCCME), CEA, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91191, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
Céline Bonnot-Diconne
Affiliation:
2CRC - Centre de Conservation et de Restauration du Cuir, Activillage - Centr’ALP, 235 rue de Corporat, 38430 Moirans, France
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Lead carbonates were used as cosmetic and pigment since Antiquity. The pigment, known as lead white, was generally composed of cerussite and hydrocerussite. Unlike most ancient pigments, lead white was obtained by a synthetic route involving metallic lead, vinegar and organic matter. Fermentation of organic matter produces heat and CO2 emission, leading to the formation of carbonates. As lead white is formed by trapping CO2, radiocarbon (14C) dating can thus be considered. We have developed a protocol to prepare lead white. We selected modern pigments for the experiment implementation and ancient cosmetic and paintings for dating. After characterization of the samples by XRD, thermal decomposition of cerussite at various temperatures was explored in order to select the appropriate conditions for painting samples. CO2 extraction yield, SEM and XPS were used to characterize the process. Thermal decomposition at 400°C was successfully applied to mixtures of lead white with other paint components (oil as binder, calcite as filler/extender) and to historical samples. We obtained radiocarbon measurements in agreement with the expected dates, demonstrating that thermal decomposition at 400°C is efficient for a selective decomposition of lead white and that paintings can be directly 14C-dated by dating lead white pigment.

Type
Conference Paper
Copyright
© 2019 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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Footnotes

Selected Papers from the 23rd International Radiocarbon Conference, Trondheim, Norway, 17–22 June, 2018

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