Works of art prepared with acrylic emulsion paints became commercially available in the 1960s. It is increasingly necessary to undertake and optimise cleaning and preventative conservation treatments to ensure their longevity. Model artists' acrylic paint films covered with artificial soiling were thus prepared on a canvas support and exposed to a variety of wet cleaning treatments based on aqueous or hydrocarbon solvent systems. This included some with additives such as chelating agents and/or surfactants, and microemulsion systems made specifically for conservation practice. The impact of cleaning (soiling removal) on the paint film surface was examined visually and correlated with results of attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared, XPS and near‐edge X‐ray absorption fine structure analyses – three spectroscopic techniques with increasing surface sensitivity ranging from approximately − 1000, 10 and 5 nm, respectively. Visual analysis established the relative cleaning efficacy of the wet cleaning treatments in line with previous results. X‐ray spectroscopy analysis provided significant additional findings, including evidence for (i) surfactant extraction following aqueous swabbing, (ii) modifications to pigment following cleaning and (iii) cleaning system residues. © 2014 The Authors. Surface and Interface Analysis published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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