Ultraviolet, Visible and Near Infrared Reflectance Spectra of Modern Pictorial Materials in the 200-2500 nm range


Institute of applied physics "Nello Carrara" (IFAC)


Marcello Picollo


Reflectance spectroscopy (RS), a non-invasive technique, provides scientists and conservators with useful data for the identification of pigments and for the analysis of color and its variation on paintings. Although several variables may affect the reflectance spectrum acquired from a painting, RS measurements provide, in most cases, information that permits recognition of the spectral features of pigments. The main problem faced in pigment identification, however, is building a suitable database of spectra of artist's materials for comparison. These samples must be prepared as closely as possible following the techniques and pictorial materials used by artists. Therefore, the present database was built with materials selected from those most commonly used in the second part of the 19th century. These pictorial materials were painted out onto rectangular samples of canvas on cardboard support (3 cm x 5 cm) with a kaolin/titanium dioxide (rutile) ground. They were applied as oil paints made from dry pigment/dye ground with linseed oil binding medium as well as purchased in tube. Most of the pigments/dyes were pure, but some of them were a mixture of different pigments/dyes or, in particular for the tube pigments, added with some filler. The chemical composition of the pure powder pigments used for the test samples was checked with X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) techniques. This collection was prepared in 2005, and the samples were then stored in a dust-free place. This spectra collection is mainly focused on providing information that permits recognition of the spectral features of several pictorial materials.

Web address


Access mode

via Internet ad accesso libero con registrazione

Data tipology

spettri di riflettanza UV-VIS-NIR

Database type



Banca dati attiva da fine 2010, realizzata da Marcello Picollo, Giulia Basilissi, Costanza Cucci, Lorenzo Stefani, Masahiko Tsukada (National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo e The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorK).