Journal of
Conservation & Museum Studies
No. 1, May 1996

Second Postgraduate Conservation Research Seminar
Science Museum, London SW7 2DD, UK
8-9 February 1996



Caroline Mathews & Colin Simpson

Department of Chemistry, Birkbeck College, 29 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PP, United Kingdom

An analytical system for the identification of oils in works of art is being developed, based on chromatographic techniques.

At the present time identification of dried oils is usually carried out by determination of the ratio of palmitic to stearic acids by gas chromatographic analysis. The current work is looking at ways of improving upon this technique by investigating the reactions undergone in the drying process and the utilisation of some of the small reaction products in order to facilitate identification.

From the information gained, a system based on chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques is being developed. Initially this is concentrating on the readily soluble components of dried oils with gel permeation chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography being used for the analysis of mono- and di- carboxylic acids and capillary gas chromatography for the analysis of unreacted triacylglycerols. Miniaturisation of the liquid chromatography system is also being undertaken in order to facilitate the analysis of very small samples. Electrophoretic techniques are being investigated as an alternative to chromatography for these analyses.


The methods, techniques, and conclusions found in individual papers are the work and responsibility of the author of the paper, and should in no way be thought to represent the opinion or endorsement of either the Journal of Conservation & Museum Studies, the Institute of Archaeology, or University College London. No liability or contract is accepted or implied by the publication of these data.


Copyright © Caroline Mathews & Colin Simpson, 1996. All rights reserved.