What are the usual methods of analysing artworks?

Artists are constantly looking for effective ways to improve their works. There are several analytical techniques for conserving, restoring and checking the authenticity of artworks. These have been developed to allow for a fair assessment of the materials. These methods are based on sound and ingenious scientific studies.

Dating

Dating is one of the fields of expertise for the evaluation of artistic works. There are several types of dating, including carbon-14 dating. This kind is based on a measurement of the ratio of carbon isotopes 14 and 12 present in organic waste. It is suitable for all radioactive components provided that the available stock is replenished and the concentration levels are adjusted to the detection limits. The other method is dendrochronology. This consists of decatising a wooden element by means of tree-ring analysis. In any case, these techniques both make it possible to date elements of biological origin. For more information on how to estimate works of art, please seek advice from your expert Mr. Expert.

Elemental analysis

Elemental analysis is one of the most effective investigations in the fields of expertise for measuring the quality and quantity of the atoms that make up an artistic work. The most common method is the use of a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Electrons excite the electron cloud of the atoms. These will then radiate at precise wavelengths according to quantum mechanics. This process requires sample collection. By means of SEM mapping, pigments can be differentiated and the stratigraphy of the sections can be distinguished. The other method is X-ray fluorescence. It requires the use of X-rays instead of electrons. This excites the material. This technique requires no vacuum or preparation. It is suitable for whole works.

Imaging

Imaging applied to works of art is one of the fields of expertise that allow an artistic piece to be estimated. It is used in the process of investigation or to preserve the state of the work at a specific time. In the case of recording, the technique is often the one chosen. Two-dimensional, full-field 2D imaging solutions are available to estimate works of art. Amongst the processes that are closest to radiation are UV photographs. These can be used to identify restored areas. Infrared photographs, on the other hand, give a different distinction between pigments of similar colour.

The science of art is constantly evolving. It is constantly coming up with better ways of authentication and valuation of works of art. However, the reduction in the number of samples is a major constraint.

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