Techniques to understand the fading mechanism
Conservation scientists experience a serious challenge when dealing with historical artworks. The original colours of artworks tend to fade due to their high light sensitivity, a phenomenon that affects 19th-century paintings in particular when organic red pigments (ORPs) have been used. However, low concentration of the original pigment, scarcity of available paint micro samples and the complexity of the degradation process prevent the identification of these ORPs in such historical paintings. The EU-funded RED-OPEN project intends to apply a multi-analytical method based on mass spectrometry and spectroscopic techniques to understand the fading mechanism and detect their breakdown products, even if the original molecules have vanished from the artwork, and thus formulate mitigation actions.