Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

NICAS Colloquium

22Mar2018 12:00 - 13:00


The next edition of the NICAS Colloquium takes place on Thursday, 22 March 2018, from 12:00 to 13:00 in conference room B of the Atelier Building (Hobbemastraat 22, Amsterdam).


The chair of this colloquium will be Ana Serrano (RCE), postdoc researcher.


The following presentations are scheduled for this edition of the NICAS Colloquium:

René de la Rie

Photo-catalytic degradation of binding media of ultramarine blue containing paint layers: A new perspective on the phenomenon of “ultramarine disease” in paintings

Failure of ultramarine blue paint layers in historic as well as modern paintings has been reported in the literature many times and
is often referred to as “ultramarine disease” or “ultramarine sickness.” The pigment itself is known to degrade hydrolytically
when exposed to acids, but whether this is the primary cause of the failure remains unclear. This paper describes a study in
which ultramarine blue paints using linseed oil and a urea-aldehyde resin as binding media were aged under simulated indoor
conditions. The paints were analyzed using reflectance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and Raman and nuclear
magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The urea-aldehyde resin binding medium was analyzed using size exclusion chromatography
and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. The study provides evidence of photo-catalytic degradation of binding media of
ultramarine blue paint layers via free-radical processes, causing changes in reflectance while the pigment itself remains intact.

René de la Rie has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He was head of the scientific research
department of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of New York
and UvA and an editor for the journal Studies in Conservation. He is currently affiliated with CRCC/CNRS, Paris and UvA.

Alessa Gambardella

Ultramarine disease: unraveling the mechanism behind binder-pigment interactions in aging ultramarine blue paint

Ultramarine blue is a highly-valued, brilliant blue pigment naturally obtained from the mineral lazurite, the main component in
the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. Ultramarine-based paints—for instance, lazurite mixed with linseed oil—are known to
exhibit a degradation phenomenon, known as “ultramarine sickness” or “ultramarine disease,” that drastically changes the
aesthetic and integrity of the artwork, showing cracking, flaking, and/or apparent color changes. We hypothesize that
“ultramarine sickness/disease” is the result of accelerated binding medium (e.g. oil) degradation catalyzed by ultramarine (or
lazurite). To determine the potential catalytic activity of lazurite toward oil degradation, we study the effect of pigment
preparation on lazurite properties and, in turn, catalytic activity toward oil-relevant reactions. This talk focuses on our efforts
toward the latter, presenting our choice of model systems and highlighting results concerning the influence of lazurite on
oxidation and hydrolysis reactions.

Alessa Gambardella is a postdoctoral scientific researcher at the Rijksmuseum supported by Akzo Nobel. She obtained a Ph.D. in
analytical chemistry (2013), from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under Professor Royce W. Murray, and held a
postdoctoral fellowship at the Getty Conservation Institute from 2013 to 2015.

NICAS Colloquium

More information about the NICAS Colloquium can be found here.



Thursday, 22 March 2018


12:00 – 13:00 hrs


Conference Room B, Atelier Building
Hobbemastraat 22, Amsterdam

Published by  NICAS