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Research Letters in Materials Science
Volume 2008, Article ID 247053, 4 pages
Research Letter

Selected Area XPS Analysis for Identification of Pigment Compounds in Microscopic Paint Flakes

1Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, 1142 Auckland, New Zealand
2Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, P.O. Box 5449, Auckland, New Zealand

Received 9 March 2008; Accepted 6 May 2008

Academic Editor: Vladimir Tsukruk

Copyright © 2008 Bryony Joanne James et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The application of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to the analysis of paint flakes from a painting by Henry Fuseli (1741–1825) is presented. Historically, the application of XPS to art conservation and restoration studies has been limited by the poor spatial resolution of the technique. Presented here is the successful analysis of paint flakes in the order of 100  𝜇 m using “imaging” XPS in conjunction with selected area analysis. Raman microscopy failed to satisfactorily identify the compounds present in this instance, and energy dispersive spectroscopy could not differentiate between lead and sulphur (two of the elements of interest) due to the limited energy resolution inherent in that technique. Using XPS analysis of the lead 4f peak revealed that the pigment was a lead-based pigment, in this case comprising exclusively lead-sulphur compounds.