The techniques and materials of a 16th century drawing by Giorgio Vasari: A multi-analytical investigation

M. Zuena, L. Baroni, V. Graziani, M. Iorio, S. Lins, M. A. Ricci, S. Ridolfi, L. Ruggiero, L. Tortora, L. Valbonetti, A. Sodo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In the present paper, for the first time, non-invasive techniques have been employed to improve the knowledge of a Coronation of the Virgin dating back to 1560–70. This is an old master drawing by Giorgio Vasari, considered one of the major painters and art theoric of Italian late 16th Century. The adopted multi-technique approach, involving preliminary macroscopic and microscopic observations, and followed by X- ray fluorescence mapping (MA-XRF), μ-Raman, and Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analyses, along with the historical information, has allowed to identify the original materials and to understand the drawing's realization process. The results show that paper preparation has been realized by using a yellow mineral, namely goethite, in order to obtain a particular shade. Moreover, a proteinaceous component, likely animal gelatin, has been used as a binder for goethite or during the paper preparation process. Small white flakes, composed of lead white and massicot, have been randomly found on the surface of the drawing: the specific function and/or origin of these flakes is unknown. Finally, the use of black chalk for a preliminary sketch and iron gall ink for the final drawing has been observed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106757
JournalMicrochemical Journal
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • FTIR
  • Heritage science
  • MA-XRF
  • Non-invasive techniques
  • μ-Raman

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy


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