In situ Macro X-Ray Fluorescence scanning of paintings

During a MA-XRF experiment, the painting is excited by an X-ray millibeam to emit X-ray fluorescence radiation. Via the energy of the recorded fluorescence radiation the elements present in the analyzed spot can be identified. By moving the beam relative to the painting, the surface is scanned pixel by pixel. The obtained elemental distribution images allow studying the distribution of various pigments on or beneath the surface of the painting.

MA-XRF scanning at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp

MA-XRF scanning in progress on Hans Memling's 'Christ with singing and music-making angels'. Collection of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. photo by Jesse Willems.

Contact and publications

Who to contact:

Key Publications:

  • 'A mobile instrument for in situ scanning macro-XRF investigation of historical paintings', Matthias Alfeld et al., J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2013, 28(5), 760–767.
  • 'Scanning XRF investigation of a Flower Still Life and its underlying composition from the collection of the Kröller–Müller Museum', Matthias Alfeld et al.,  Appl Phys A, 2013, 111(1), 165–175.
  • 'Optimization of mobile scanning macro-XRF systems for the in situ investigation of historical paintings', Matthias Alfeld et al., J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2011, 26(5), 899–909.