• Sandbakken, E.G.; Chan, E.; Flate, I.; Kutzke, H.; Puskar, L.; Sandu, I.C.A.: Powdery Pigments from the Original Materials Collection of Munch: Conservation Treatment and Analytical Characterization. International Journal of Conservation Science 13 (2022), p. 1681-1690

Open Access Version

This contribution focuses on the study and preservation of 14 out of 35 powdery pigments in original paper bags. These are part of the artist materials reference collection at the Munch Museum in Oslo. The challenge of this study consists in the lack of information about the year of purchase of the pigments and its content. Some information is provided by the manufacturer’s handwritten notes, some of them are, however, unreadable and a few bags have no information, nor on manufacturer or on its content. Munch has used at least four known Oslo based manufactures and some of the information from these paper bags could help giving at least some dating. Some relate to the name change of the city, from Kristiania to Oslo in 1925. Other information relates to the manufacturer’s history, writing style, logos, addresses and telephone numbers. So far, the dating is the following: 1900-1925, 1922-1925 or after 1922. Some of the original paper bags, were in a very poor state and some containing highly hazardous pigments. The damages were significant and some relates to previous handling; such as tears, others had large, corroded holes on bottom or sides. All these required conservations to enable further storage of the pigments and to prevent additional damage from handling. Several bags were also stained with its powdery pigment which compromised the conservation by choosing a non-aqueous treatment. Heat activated adhesive with BEVA® 371 film lined with hand-colored Japanese tissues was applied for bridging of tears and infills of holes. 14 different pigments (of white, yellow, red, blue and green colours) were analyzed using ATR-FTIR, pXRF, SEM-EDS, XRD, Raman spectroscopy and synchrotron-based far-infrared spectroscopy for understanding their chemical composition. The analytical characterization shows a palette of pigments and lakes as one could expect from the first half of 20th century. Apart from common pigments and extenders such as chrome yellow, cadmium yellow, Prussian blue, barium sulfate and others, an amorphous silicate was found which is assumed to create texture effects or is the raw material for production of waterglass. One of the cadmium yellow samples has a remarkable content of cadmium carbonate which may be related to the production method and/or the degradation of cadmium yellow. In one sample a hydrated calcium carbonate occurs. This study opens future research regarding this artist’s collection, adding new knowledge about Munch’s own use of art materials but also in general on modern paint materials.