Abstract

We developed a combined procedure for the analysis of works of art based on a portable system for fluorescence imaging integrated with analytical measurements on microsamples. The method allows us to localize and identify organic and inorganic compounds present on the surface of artworks. The fluorescence apparatus measures the temporal and spectral features of the fluorescence emission, excited by ultraviolet (UV) laser pulses. The kinetic of the emission is studied through a fluorescence lifetime imaging system, while an optical multichannel analyzer measures the fluorescence spectra of selected points. The chemical characterization of the compounds present on the artistic surfaces is then performed by means of analytical measurements on microsamples collected with the assistance of the fluorescence maps. The previous concepts have been successfully applied to study the contaminants on the surface of Michelangelo's <i>David</i>. The fluorescence analysis combined with Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) measurements revealed the presence of beeswax, which permeates most of the statue surface, and calcium oxalate deposits mainly arranged in vertical patterns and related to rain washing.

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