Technical Art History

How do I find out more?


Technical examination of a painting reveals how an artist used their paints to create particular effects.

At high magnification, and using a variety of diagnostic techniques, we explore how materials are combined or layered, or pushed to the boundaries of their properties to create  these effects.

This is a key tool that we use to explore problems and to identify the subliminal qualities that make a painting 'work'. This deeper knowledge of the properties of the painting feeds in to the design of its conservation treatment.

Using technical art history

We offer technical studies of paintings for other uses: for example to support curatorial research for exhibitions and cataloguing, and for interpretation education resources. Studies can be tailored to meet your research questions or exhibition themes. Please contact us to discuss how we might help. Examples of past contributions may be found on the projects page.

We supply a detailed description of the structure of the painting, identify materials, explore how the paint was applied and handled and include digital images of significant features characteristic to the artist at work. We do not offer authentication of paintings.

Scientific analysis is outsourced to conservation scientists across the UK and Europe according to the questions and analytical methods required (indicated below *).

We carry out, commission, collate, and interpret data from a range of options including:

  • examination under a range of illuminations including raking light
  • ultraviolet fluorescence including digital UV photography
  • macro and micro digital photography
  • infra-red reflectography *
  • x-radiography *
  • cross-section analysis of paint strata, pigment combinations and mediums *
  • pigment identification*
  • medium analysis *
We support technical art historical research in the UK by providing a point of contact between researchers and owners who are interested in contribution to furthering the knowledge of artists materials and techniques. For further information about how to get involved, please contact us.

contact: conservation(at)
© Mary Bustin 2011-2014