Reflecting the past, imag(in)ing the past: macro-reflection imaging of painting materials by fast MIR hyperspectral analysis

Michela Botticelli, Valentina Risdonne, Tess Visser, Christina Young*, Margaret J. Smith, Jake M. Charsley, Marius Rutkauskas, Yoann Altmann, Derryck T. Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

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Imaging spectroscopy has been developed in the last two decades in the visible and infrared spectral range for detecting pigments and binders on paintings. The near-infrared (NIR) region has been proved effective for the discrimination of lipids and proteinaceous binders. More recently, the mid-infrared (MIR) range has also been tested on paintings. Reflection imaging prototypes already developed could be further optimized for cultural heritage analysis, for example by: enhancing the instrument configuration and performance; adopting compressive strategies to increase data processing speeds; using data validation to confirm that the processed image reflects the composition of a painted surface; and lowering price to enable more cost-effective analysis of large surface areas. Here, we demonstrate a novel hyperspectral Fourier transform spectrometer (HS FTS), which enables an imaging strategy that provides a significant improvement in acquisition rate compared to other state-of-the-art techniques. We demonstrate hyperspectral imaging across the 1400–700 cm−1 region in reflection mode with test samples and the painting ‘Uplands in Lorne’ (Acc. No.: GLAHA43427) by D.Y. Cameron (1865–1945). A post-processing analysis of the resulting hyperspectral images, after validation of reference samples by conventional Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, shows the potential of the method for efficient non-destructive classification of different materials found on painted cultural heritage. This research demonstrates that the HS FTS is a convenient and compact tool for non-invasive analysis of painted cultural heritage objects at spatio-spectral acquisition rates potentially higher than current FTS imaging techniques. Ultimately, when combined with fast graphics processing unit-based reconstruction, the HS FTS may enable fast, large area imaging. Graphical abstract:
Original languageEnglish
Article number432
JournalEuropean Physical Journal Plus
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2023


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