Measuring Munch's Crayons
Analysis of the artist’s pastel crayons provides a rare glimpse into a favored tool that is often overlooked in technical studies
Lauren Robertson | | Quick Read
Unlike their counterparts, pastel crayons appear to have been neglected in technical studies into the composition of modern painting materials. Recently, researchers tried to rectify this by performing a multi-analytical study of 44 crayons belonging to revered expressionist artist Edvard Munch.
The researchers used a combination of X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, FT-IR, Raman, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, pyrolysis GC-MS, LC-MS and HPLC-HRMS to elucidate the composition of the crayons.
The results showed the crayons were oil-based, with the main binding media being beeswax, palm oil or Japan wax in different relative abundances dependent on the brand of crayon. Overall, the synthetic and organic pigments used in both brands were largely similar, with the exception of the greens; these were made using either Prussian blue and chrome yellow, or a mix of viridian, ultramarine and lead chromate. The researchers believe the detailed results will aid conservation strategies for both Munch’s and other 19th century artists’ works.
- J La Nasa et al., Scientific Reports, 11 (2021). DOI : 10.1038/s41598-021-86031-6