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A study of the microstructure and condition of thin sheets of painting support ivory using SEM and ESEM

Kitano, S., Derbyshire, A., Meeks, N., Cartwright, C., Stain, C. and Mitchell, G. (2012) A study of the microstructure and condition of thin sheets of painting support ivory using SEM and ESEM. In: Meeks, N., Cartwright, C., Meek, A. and Mongiatti, A. (eds.) Historical technology, materials and conservation: SEM and microanalysis. Archetype Publications, London. ISBN 9781904982654

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This paper outlines a study of the microstructure of thin sheets of ivory used as a painting support for portrait miniatures. Warping of the ivory support is one of the main problems commonly found in portrait miniatures from the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. Portrait miniatures from this period are painted on very thin sheets of ivory that are often only 0.2 mm in thickness. Warping can lead to cracking of the ivory and can also accentuate flaking of the paint layer. The problem of warping in ivory has thus been of long-term interest to conservators who deal with portrait miniatures, including those at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum. The causes of warping are complex. However, it should be noted that artists normally stuck the thin ivory sheets onto paper or card before commencing the painting. The possible causes of warping therefore are thought to relate to the differential reactions of the ivory/adhesive/paper or card layers to changes in relative humidity (RH). It is well known that ivory is hygroscopic and anisotropic.1 However, only a few scientific studies have been carried out related to this subject and systematic analyses of the morphological and microstructural changes due to changes in RH or moisture in such thin sheets of ivory have yet to be investigated.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Chemical Analysis Facility (CAF) > Electron Microscopy Laboratory (CAF)
ID Code:32560
Additional Information:Poster paper
Publisher:Archetype Publications

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