Zinc oxide has been widely used as a white pigment in paintings during the 19th and early 20th century paintings, as an alternative to the traditional, toxic lead white. This project consists in the multi-dimensional characterization of zinc white paints over time, from their making to their drying and aging, to shed light on how they were used by artists and which specific properties lead artists to employ them despite their significant drawbacks (slow drying, brittleness, zinc soap formation and subsequent alterations). The analytical methodology will be developed first on mock-ups samples before being applied to historic samples. The research will focus on a selection of paintings and artists, including especially Vincent Van Gogh and Amedeo Modigliani, for which there are also authentication issues.
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