Analysis of Art Objects Using a Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer

Pietro Moioli, C. Seccaroni

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X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis is a non-destructive technique widely used in the study of works of art. It can detect elements having atomic number >15 (phosphorus) and supplies only semiquatitative results yet it can be helpful in a very wide range of applications. The ENEA Unit for the Safeguard of Cultural Heritage has acquired considerable experience in XRF analysis, investigating more than 500 works of art including easel and mural paintings, mosaics, glasses, ceramics and bronzes. Using XRF analysis sometimes it is possible to detect undocumented pigments or to characterize traditional materials better. This technique of analysis also allows the investigation of impurities of elements having medium or high atomic number, in some cases such impurities can help to establish the provenance of the materials or to characterize differences in the same work due to restoration or to the presence of unoriginal parts. On glass, XRF can identify the nature of the colouring substances and opacifiers. A large number of measurements can be collected for statistical processing and comparison, which is very important, in particular, in the case of mosaics, and yields information which may not be evident if only a single measurement is considered. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48 - 52
Number of pages5
JournalX-Ray Spectrometry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Spectroscopy

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