Conclusions

When preparing to analyse a sample removed from a work of art, conservation scientists must select a technique which gives the maximum amount of information for the minimum amount of sample and sample preparation: it appears that RP-HPLC using FMOC as the amino acid derivatizing agent is the optimum analytical technique for the characterization of proteinaceous binding media, whilst GC is routinely used for oil-based media.

At present, GC analysis of silylated sugar residues is arguably the best method for the identification of natural gum media, and the use of mass spectrometry as the detection technique offers superior sensitivity and flexibility for these complex samples. However, this seems to be the least investigated area of analysis and significant developments in methodology which will further improve the sensitivity of the technique can be anticipated: this is of particular importance in the analysis of gum media since samples invariably contain no more than 10% binding medium, resulting in minute amounts of actual analyte in the samples. It is possible that microbore HPLC techniques may find a use in conservation science, since they are obviously suited to the minuscule samples routinely provided for analysis.

Simple qualitative techniques such as TLC may be sufficient to indicate the basic media type used in works of art, but as more and more works require some form of conservation or restoration treatment it is becoming increasingly important that the conservator has as much information as possible relating to the nature of the materials used in the work, in order to avoid damaging irreplaceable objects of artistic importance.

Chromatographic techniques provide reliable and accurate methods of analysis, suitable for use with the microscopic samples typically seen in this field of work. Further work should lead to simplification of methods of sample preparation - any improvements which mean that the size of samples required for analysis is reduced and that analyte losses are minimized would be welcomed by the conservation community.

See Colour Plates 59, 60.

See also: II/Chromatography: Gas: Derivatization; Chromatography: Liquid: Derivatization. III/Amino Acids: Gas Chromatography; Liquid Chromatography;

Thin-Layer (Planar) Chromatography. Paints and Coatings: Pyrolysis: Gas Chromatography. Pigments: Liquid

Chromatography; Thin-Layer (Planar) Chromatography.

Polysaccharides: Liquid Chromatography.

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