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Art of Chromatography – Chromatography in Art

Naturwissenschaften und Technologie in der Kunst
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Conservation Science Department, Burgring 5, 1010 Wien

Vortrag Dr. Václav Pitthard im Rahmen der ChemArt, organisiert vom INTK und dem Institut  Chemie – Science Visualization, Abt. Archäometrie (Universität für Angewandte Kunst).

The prestige position of the Conservation Science Department in the Kunsthistorisches Museum has allowed to built-up the reputation supporting not only professionals in the museum’s collections, but also world-wide. The department with its research programs involving both organic and inorganic analyses of art objects provides the assistance with scientific information on e.g. the painting tech­nique and alteration due to former restoration treatments, the development of the new conservation treatments, or the preventive conservation measures.

The lecture will specifically focus on the application of (pyrolysis)-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry technique in the field of organic material analysis. A set of analytical procedures for the investigation of complex binding media compositions (lipids, resins, waxes, proteins, and poly­saccharides) has been optimised and applied on samples from numerous works of art. In particular, examples of analyses of natural binding media mixtures from Old Masters paintings, analyses of varnishes from bronze sculptures or lacquer analyses from antique furniture will be namely high­lighted.


Dr. Václav Pitthard joined the research team in the Department of Conservation Science in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) in Vienna as a conservation scientist after receiving his PhD degree at the Royal Holloway College, the University of London in year 2003. His interests have been focused on the development and application of analytical methods by means of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse organic binding media of museum objects. He is an author of several scientific publications and has been involved in several research projects with special emphasis on the identification of organic historic materials. Most recently he is involved in the research concerning the antique Asian lacquers.