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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2017 Jun;409(16):4047-4056. doi: 10.1007/s00216-017-0351-5. Epub 2017 Apr 26.

Comparison between non-invasive methods used on paintings by Goya and his contemporaries: hyperspectral imaging vs. point-by-point spectroscopic analysis.

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IRAMAT-CRP2A UMR 5060 CNRS-Université Bordeaux Montaigne, 33607, Pessac, France.
IRAMAT-CRP2A UMR 5060 CNRS-Université Bordeaux Montaigne, 33607, Pessac, France.
Instituto Universitario de investigación en Ciencias Ambientales de Aragón (IUCA) and Dpto. Química Analítica, Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009, Zaragoza, Spain.
Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), 48940, Leioa, Spain.


The development of non-invasive techniques for the characterization of pigments is crucial in order to preserve the integrity of the artwork. In this sense, the usefulness of hyperspectral imaging was demonstrated. It allows pigment characterization of the whole painting. However, it also sometimes requires the complementation of other point-by-point techniques. In the present article, the advantages of hyperspectral imaging over point-by-point spectroscopic analysis were evaluated. For that purpose, three paintings were analysed by hyperspectral imaging, handheld X-ray fluorescence and handheld Raman spectroscopy in order to determine the best non-invasive technique for pigment identifications. Thanks to this work, the main pigments used in Aragonese artworks, and especially in Goya's paintings, were identified and mapped by imaging reflection spectroscopy. All the analysed pigments corresponded to those used at the time of Goya. Regarding the techniques used, the information obtained by the hyperspectral imaging and point-by-point analysis has been, in general, different and complementary. Given this fact, selecting only one technique is not recommended, and the present work demonstrates the usefulness of the combination of all the techniques used as the best non-invasive methodology for the pigments' characterization. Moreover, the proposed methodology is a relatively quick procedure that allows a larger number of Goya's paintings in the museum to be surveyed, increasing the possibility of obtaining significant results and providing a chance for extensive comparisons, which are relevant from the point of view of art history issues.


EDXRF; Goya; Hyperspectral imaging; In situ; Non-invasive; Pigments; Raman


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