FTIR Analysis

FTIR analytical spectra 

Nineteenth century artists’ treatises provide a nearly contemporary reference for understanding some of the current practices in the methods and materials available to Maclise, and the theories of artistic practice current in his life time. Maclise was aware that linseed oil yellowed over time, contributing to a darkening of the paint layer and often used a mixture of oils in an attempt to slow this process, a practice mentioned in many artists treatise of the time.  These results indicate Maclise had a good understanding of the materials available to him, resulting in a specific selection and application process which contributes to the longevity of his many canvases.

Crossing data from XRF and FTIR analysis was particularly useful. Pigments Maclise used for the different shades of green foliage in the painting were mixtures of Prussian blue and Chrome yellow. This composition was discovered by a combination of FTIR and XRF analysis. Prussian blue, a pigment that became widely available to artists in the nineteenth century, was identified using FTIR as it contains the –CN triple bond, a characteristic bond between its carbon and nitrogen atoms.

XRF analysis of the same sample area revealed the presence of Lead and Chrome. This suggests Maclise was an experimental and modern artist who used newly available commercial mixtures such as Chrome or Cinnabar green which consist of small particles of Lead chromate, a yellow pigment with Prussian blue.