paper presents the results obtained by non-destructive XRF analyses conducted
on six paintings fulfilled to obtain the data base for the pigments used
by one of the best known Serbian artists. Paja Jovanovic (1859-1957),
is one of the most significant representatives of the Academic Realism
in Serbian art at the end of XIX and the beginning of XX century. His
work can be found in many European museums.
Paja Jovanovic finished the Academy of Fine Arts in 1877 in Vienna. In
response to growing interest of Europe for the Balkans, Jovanovic painted
mostly scenes from the life of the Albanians, Montenegrins, Herzegovinians,
which won him a lasting reputation (The Wounded Montenegrin, Fencing,
Decorating of the Bride, Cockfighting, Migration of Serbs etc). After
1905, he devoted himself exclusively to painting the portraits in the
style of Academic Realism, for the wealthy clientele, and he became very
famous thanks to his portraiture. He also made the iconostasis in the
Dolovo and Saborna churches in Novi Sad. With the aim of studying the
variation in his colour palette as he matured as a painter, and for the
purpose of verifying the authenticity of many of the paintings that are
claimed to be his, under the Technical project of IAEA we have performed
the examination of the Paja Jovanovic paintings from the National museum
Belgrade using the non destructive technique provided by the transportable
EDXRF system. As an aim of the XRF analysis non destructive imaging analyses
(X rays, Infrared Reflectography and UV Fluorescence) were also fulfilled.
The work in progress results show that Paja Jovanovic had a very rich
and multiform palette both in the colours used for painting and in the
ground layers. In this work we are going to present the diversity of ground
layers from 27 paintings and pigments from one of his paintings named
"The First Ball".
In order to identify the
pigments we have examined six painting by Paja Jovanovic from the National
Museum Belgrade for which we are certain that they are painted by this
artist. First we conducted IR and UV (take away radiography) examinations
in order to identify if there are some retouches on these painting. After
consultation with restorers we have decided what are the best points on
the paintings to be examined with EDXRF. We also did the EDXRF measurements
on the back side of the paintings to better identify the ground layers.
Here it will be presented the result for painting named "The First
Ball" as one example of pigments that Paja Jovanovic used. To analyze
the pigments an EDXRF portable system was used working with an X Ray tube
tension of 35 kV and a tube current of 0.2 mA; the detector is a SDD (Silicon
Drift Detector) with a resolution of 150 eV at 6.4 keV. The analyzed areas
have a diameter of 2 mm. In Figure 1 you can see the moment of the EDXRF
Ground Layers (Priming Coats)
It is very often the case that painters used to buy the material for their
paintings from the same supplier or made the ground layers by themselves
in the identical manner for some period. In order to see if this is the
case for Paja Jovanovic it was examined the ground layers from 27 paintings.
For these paintings it is obvious that the canvas was prepared industrially
because there is a ground layer all over the canvas, even where there
is no painting. The ground layer would be only on the painted surface
if painter had applied the ground layer by himself.
The samples were taken from the canvases and immersed in epoxy resin.
In order to have the cross sections we grinded the samples mechanically
with grinding paper of 500, 800, and 1000. These samples were examined
with SEM EDXRF.
All the points that have been investigated are presented
in Figure no.4 on the photograph of the painting and the same numbers
are given to the spectra. Summary of the obtained results are given in
The characteristic of all spectra done on the painting "The First
Ball" is that there is a pick of titanium zinc. This are also two
major signals that can be seen on spectra made on the back side of the
painting (Figure no.1).
Figure 1: EDFRF Data collection
and spectrum no. 11 of the back side of the painting
the spectra of pigments where the white colour is used for incarnate (Figure
no. 2) the peak of zinc is of the larger intensity. This indicates the
use of zinc white ZnO as a white pigment.
Figure 2: Spectrums of incarnate, spectrum no.
8 and no. 9
than zinc, in some places there is evidence of lead white, spectrum no.6,
5 and 2. (Figure no.3). Since lead is visible only on the parts where
there is white colour or in mixture with pigments witch are not expected
to have lead we can say that this is white lead or 2PbCO3(OH)2.
Figure 3: Spectrum no 6 of the yelow of the metal
bowl, spectrum no 5. of the green on the back and spectrum no. 2 of the
lite yelow on the chair
As the blue pigment on all the spectra there is the peak of iron spectrum
no.7 (Figure no.4). This is the sign of the Prussian blue pigment Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3
xH2O. For the green colour in points 4 and 5 and 10 there is the pick
of iron also. This is an indication of the earth pigments (Figure no.
3 and 4). Green earth pigments are recognised by the peak of iron, with
chromium as a trace element. For the red pigment (Figure no.4) on roses
(spectrum no.1) there is the pick for cadmium, cadmium red CdS(Se) and
the pick of mercury, cinnabar HgS. The red colour on the books (spectrum
3) in the back shows also red cadmium and the peak of iron (hematite or
red ochre also the earth pigment). Cadmium red is pigment that was commercially
in use from year 1910 and is always found in some correlation with selenium
as the trace element. For the yellow colour on the chair (spectrum no.2)
and on the bowl on the table (spectrum 6) there is the peak of iron in
combination with chromium which can be assigned to yellow ochre also earth
pigments. Summary of the results is given in Table no.1.
Table no.1: Summary of the results obtained
Figure 4. Points on the painting show the
areas where the EDXRF spectrums are collected and spectras of
red, blue, green, yelow pigments
All of these results are in accordions with results obtained for other
paintings of Paja Jovanovic that have been investigated in same manner.
Analytical results for the ground layers are given in Figure no. 5.
Ground layers are usually made of calcium carbonate, lead white, zinc
white, barium sulphate or their mixture. Titanium white is the white
colour that was introduced in painting techniques at the beginning of
the XX century. It has been observed that on three paintings there are
different kinds of double layers witch are combination of zinc, calcium
and lead. There is just one painting with a ground layer made of mixture
of zinc white and barium sulphate known as lithopone and just one painting
with combination of zinc white and titanium oxide as the ground layer.
The former is the case with the painting "The First Ball".
There are eight paintings with lead white as the ground layers and the
remaining paintings mostly have mixtures of calcium with other white
pigments (lead, zinc, lead and zinc together) in 12 cases, and with
pure calcium in 5 cases.
Figure 5. Data of
ground layers of 27 paintings of Paja Jovanovic made by SEM
EDXRF, showing just one with ZnO/TiO2 combination and one with
aja Jovanovic was a painter with very good knowledge
of painting techniques. His paintings are for almost one hundred years
still stable and unchanged. His pallete mostly consists of pigments
that are already in wide use at the end of XIX and the beginning of
XX centuries. These are cadmium red, red ochre, vermillion for the red
colour, Prussian blue for the blue colour, earth green and yellow pigments
and different types of white colours as zinc white and lead white.
Since Paja Jovanovic used to travel a lot and change the place of living
it seems that he did not have the same supplier for the canvases and
probably this is the reason for great diversity of the ground layers
found on his paintings. In the painting the "The First Ball"
the ground layer is rather unusual and consists of zinc white and titanium
We due many thanks to conservators of National Museum
Belgrade, senior conservator Jovan Pantic and Sofija Kajtez, conservator
Sanja Pajic for collecting samples and the data. Also we appreciate
the technical support given by Goran Bogojevic, Vladimir Radonjic
and Bosko Petrovic.
Z. Antic, Paja Jovanovic, Catalogue of Legate Town Museum
Belgrade, Muzej grada Beograda, 1970
N.Kusovac, Paja Jovanovic slike velikog formata, Catalogue,
National Museum Belgrade, 1979
C.Seccaroni and P. Moioli, Fluorescenza X, Nardini Editore,
R.Gettens and G.Stout, Painting Materials, D.Van Nostrand
R.V.Grieken and K.Janssens, Cultural Heritage Conservation and
Environmental Impact Assessment by Non-Destructive Testing and Micro-Analysis,
Balkema Publishers, 2005