A re-assessment of Hanson's paper on the painting materials of J.M.W. Turner - Tate Research Repository
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A re-assessment of Hanson's paper on the painting materials of J.M.W. Turner

2005

Abstract

Hanson's paper on the painting materials of J.M.W Turner is re-assessed. During Hanson's time, no comparative findings have been used. Some of his works include modification of his chosen method emission spectrography using a 2 mg. sample instead of the usual 10 mg. Hanson also made one very basic study of pigment properties: he painted out Turner's organic pigments in water, exposed them to a mercury arc lamp for 24 hours and compared results. He then reported that only the madder lakes were at all lightfast in comparison to industrial paints in his era. Additionally, Hanson claimed that he could distinguish aged mastic from aged dammar using wet chemistry and infrared spectroscopy on fresh material. Overall, aged and altered materials should have been sought instead of fresh samples which led to many negative result for historic paint analysis. Presently, there are attempts to reproduce formulations of the past, using materials that are more realistic in terms of processing and composition.

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