Carbon dating art
The Museum laboratorys mission is to improve existing scientific methods and elaborate new methods for the ascertainment of the authenticity of art objects.The laboratorys instruments and know-how for the determining of authenticity are at the disposal of collectors, art experts, restorers, art galleries and museums.Carbon-14 (C-14) dating, also called radiocarbon dating, makes it possible to determine how much time has elapsed since an organism’s death – for example, the felling of a tree.The method is based on the measurement of the amount of carbon-14 remaining in the tested material.Art historically, testing the € 5000 masks or figures could be far more interesting, while in such instances the cost is disproportionally large.There are different approaches for determining the authenticity of antique paintings: - verifying authenticity through a purely stylistic evaluation - verifying the authenticity of a painting by means of objective tests of the ageing of the material - verifying the authenticity of a painting with the use of scientific instrumental methods.Unfortunately at the moment it is still a bit too expensive (€ 1190 at CIRAM) to be used extensively.Mostly high-level works of art are currently being dated, though they often don’t really need the additional confirmation.
IR spectroscopic analysis permits the analysis of various materials to ascertain their compatibility with the presumed historic period: pigments, binders, glues and varnishes. The laboratory also digitalizes images obtained by the various techniques, carries out examinations under reflected and raking light, and performs microchemical analyses.
The combined results of the stylistic, material and scientific investigations will permit the establishing of the compatibility of the painting with presumed elements or its inauthenticity.