Analysis of the Surface of Paintings Cleaned during the Past Ten Years Using the Gels Systems

Objects cleaned with gel systems provide an opportunity to examine both the extent of residue left on the cleaned surface—and their longevity—to relate any presence of gel to possible damage, if observed. Research in this area was carried out at the GCI. The study indicated that surfactant residues on painted surfaces exist initially in low concentrations and decrease within a relatively short period of time. This information may reduce some of the concerns that conservators have regarding possible long-term effects of surfactant residues.

Work Completed

  • The level of detection in a model gel-paint system using pyrolysis gas chromatography (py-GC) was determined to be suitable for the sensitivity required to test the cleaned paint surfaces.
  • Objects in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Wintherthur Museum, Garden and Library that were cleaned in the past using these gel systems were analyzed by py-GC for evidence of gel residue and any deterioration products.