May 2015

A new Stereomicroscope for Art Examination


We just got a new stereo microscope for art examination!  We upgraded to a trinocular microscope with zoom lens 1x-4x and Barlow lens to achieve 140x magnification! It has built-in direct and transmitted light and its high magnification allows even for documentation of cross-section. We are going to couple it with the technical photography (TP) and [...]

February 2013

Photoshop for paintings’ cross-sections.


Shallow depth of field is a big issue in cross-section examination. It is not that easy to have your embedded sample perfectly flat and laid horizontally under the objective. The outcome is that the sample is not all on focus. You can focus on one area but you lose detail on another area. If this is your [...]

January 2013

A budget microscope for art examination


I have often been asked what kind of microscope is good for art examination. Briefly, you need a trinocular polarizing microscope with epillumination (from the top) and transmitted illumination (light from the bottom). I used to work in Brooklyn with the glorious  polarizing microscope Nikon OPTIPHOT 66. Moving back home in Italy I needed to buy [...]

Microscopy for Art Examination: Identifying textiles


A polarizing microscope is a quick method to identify textiles such as  painting canvases. To identify common historical textile such as cotton, hemp, wool, silk and flax you have to look at certain features. For example, cotton is easily recognized because its fibers show a characteristic twisted shape while hemp, jute and flax are pretty [...]

Microscopy for Art Examination: making slide mounts


Last week I was in Florence visiting my friends at Editech. This is the first established  Italian company working on art diagnostics. They had an awesome office space 5 minutes from the famous city's location "ponte vecchio." Now they just moved to a - yet better place! an historical building facing Arno river, just 1 minute [...]

December 2012

Microscopy for Art Examination: Polarizing Microscopy


This video is just an emotional collection of images. I say emotional because it is a pleasure looking at the mineral pigments under the microscope. Readings I suggest to get a serious handle of polarizing microscopy for art examination are [1, 2, 3, 4]. And if you want know EVERYTHING about pigments identification I suggest [...]

Microscopy for Art: Cross-Sections Preparation


Optical Microscopy is  affordable and provides plenty of information for art documentation and examination. Though, my feeling is that it has been overlooked in academia and in education for conservation scientists and probably also for conservators. You don't want to shoot a mosquito with a cannon, right? A good enough polarizing microscope goes for $5000 (much less on the [...]