Analysis & Research

Part of the core collection of pigments assembled by Edward Waldo Forbes, samples of which are now part of the AA&R reference collection. Access generously provided by the Intermuseum Conservation Laboratory, Cleveland, Ohio (USA).

Part of the core collection of pigments assembled by Edward Waldo Forbes, samples of which are now part of the AA&R reference collection. Access generously provided by the Intermuseum Conservation Laboratory, Cleveland, Ohio (USA).

Good analysis of paintings requires three steps: understanding what the questions are about the artwork, what are the most appropriate and informative scientific approaches, and establishing a viable historical context for the findings. AA&R offers world leading expertise and resources in all three areas, providing a comprehensive service for the analysis and technical research of artworks.

Defining the best approach to examination and analysis of your object is fundamental to a good ultimate outcome. By selecting the most appropriate research strategies, surveying the artwork with the insight of long experience and intimate knowledge of arts’ structure, as well as choosing the optimum approaches most assured of results, AA&R lays the groundwork of an informed and useful study.

For analysis, AA&R is equipped with a wide range of sophisticated scientific instruments to characterise the components of paintings such as pigments and binding media. On the level of a leading museum laboratory, AA&R runs instruments that allow us to determine aspects such as elemental and molecular composition, undertake particle characterisation and identify the organic phases present. To complement these instruments AA&R develops and maintains extensive reference libraries of samples and spectra that allow us to be highly confident and precise in our identifications. Additionally, among the operating principles that AA&R has developed over the years of researching artworks for clients, an especially important guide is what we call the ‘multi-analytical’ approach. This uses two, three or more techniques to characterise a single material, an approach that permits the largest number of historically important materials to be efficiently and reliably identified.

Simply knowing the identity of a material is rarely sufficient to understand what it means to find it in your painting. To insightfully place such analytical results into their proper historical framework AA&R underpin their analytical work with an extensive knowledge of past materials and artists’ practices. Ranging from specially developed material chronologies through to researching the technical literature in multiple languages, AA&R provides the extra level of meaning that changes a scientific report into a new discovery.

The AA&R team also has a long and distinguished record of research into historical materials from both analytical and documentary source perspectives. Some of their published contributions to the field can be found listed here, here and here.

Research & Innovation

In order to provide art technology services at the highest level, we believe that we must continue to develop our knowledge and skills. Our expertise is grounded on much of our own, original research as well as upon collaborative projects undertaken with colleagues. The "Pigment Compendium", a standard reference book in the field of art analysis and the ongoing Pigmentum Project / Pigment Collection, which is now one of the largest, provenanced collections of historical pigments, world-wide, form part of our knowledge base. We endeavor to stay abreast of the most recent developments in the art technical literature and in analytical techniques internationally, as well as actively developing new processes in response to our particular experience in the market. Consequently, we are  involved in professional academic groups (ICOM-CC working groups, such as Art Technological Source Research), in funded research projects, and in peer group research on larger problems in the field.   A summary of our ongoing research and our international research partners can be found here.