Conférence : Metal Soaps in Art

Le 15 mars 2016 à 14h30, j'aurai le plaisir de présenter une étude des cas de savons métalliques dans les oeuvres de Pierre Soulages au sein de la conférence "Metal Soaps in Art" au Rijksmuseum d'Amsterdam.


Challenges and Outlook for Conservation & Analysis


Since the discovery of metal soap-related degradation phenomena in paintings at the beginning of this century, two topic-related conferences were held, the De Mayerne Day Amsterdam in 2005 and the Paintings Speciality Session at the Annual American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Meeting in 2006. Research on this subject has been continued ever since. It is now time to present the newest insights of metal soap-related degradation in works of art in a two-day conference to be held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 2016.

Metal soap degradation phenomena

coorteStill Life with Asparagus, Adriaen Coorte, 1697In the last decades, the awareness and identification of degradation phenomena in paintings related to metal soaps has increased tremendously. It is estimated that around 70% of paintings in museum collections are affected by some form of metal soap-related degradation. Increased transparency of the paint, insoluble whitish surface hazes, tiny aggregates deforming the paint surface, water sensitive and dripping paints are examples of paint defects caused by the formation of metal soaps. Conservators are confronted with these affected paintings, and are trying to find suitable treatments, optimal display and storage conditions. Scientists apply the latest high-tech analytical techniques and diagnostic tools with the aim to understand the underlying mechanisms of metal soap-related degradations in paints. In order to find viable solutions we need to join forces and set future goals. Selected publications(pdf)


The conference will bring together art historians, conservators and scientists to discuss conservation strategies, implications for appearance, as well as the analytical challenges.


Note: The Workshop Sessions on day 1 (15.30 – 17.00) and day 2 (15.00 – 16.30) are full. All new registrations will be offered an alternative programme for those time-slots. The alternative programme will be published on this website soon.
The conference incorporates an innovative workshop during which conservators and art historians will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and observations with scientists who are in the process of making new discoveries on metal soap-related degradation and visa versa. The conference workshop will serve as a platform for discussion where future research objectives will be defined. The 2-day conference comprises presentations by invited speakers and poster sessions with pitches (1.5 days), followed by a workshop (0.5 day).

Conference topics

  • Occurrence in paintings and other objects;
  • Implications for appearance;
  • Multi-scale characterisation (micro- and macro);
  • Analytical strategies for identification;
  • Different types of metal soaps;
  • Chemical and physical properties of paint;
  • Metal oxalates as degradation;
  • Conservation treatments;
  • Influence of past treatment on formation;
  • Influence of climate on formation and stabilisation;
  • Dynamics and transport mechanisms;

Programme  Titles  Presenters 
 All presentations will be held in the Auditorium in the Rijksmuseum. Workshop locations will be disclosed on a later date. Posters will be displayed in the Foyer of the Auditorium.
 The Workshop Sessions on day 1 (15.30 – 17.00) and day 2 (15.00 – 16.30) are full. All new registrations will be offered an alternative programme for those time-slots. The alternative programme will be published on the conference website soon.
 Please click on the presentation title for more information
Monday 14 March 2016
8:45 - 9:15 Registration and coffee/tea
Atrium and Foyer
9:15 - 9:30 Welcome speech
Chair - Katrien Keune, Rijksmuseum and University of Amsterdam
9:30 - 10:00 Introduction by Petria Noble, Head of Paintings Conservation, Rijksmuseum
10:00 - 10:30 INVITED SPEAKER 1 - Zinc soaps: an overview of zinc oxide reactivity and consequences of soap formation in oil based paintings
Presenter: Gillian Osmond
10:30 - 11:00 Coffee break
Chair - Ella Hendriks, Van Gogh Museum
 Poster pitch session I: Case studies 19th and 20th century art
11:00 - 11:05 P1: Seldom black and white- the works of Franz Kline
Presenter: Corina Rogge
11:05 - 11:10 P2: Beneath the surface: paint losses due to zinc soap formation within ground layers from a late 19th century oil painting
Presenter: Marta Felix
11:10 - 11:15 P3: Paint delamination as a result of zinc soap formation in an early Mondrian painting
Presenter: Ruth Hoppe
11:15 - 11:20 P4: Zink soap formation causing loss of cohesion within a paint layer of Mondrians “Composition with Color Planes 4”
Presenter: Madeleine Bisschoff
11:20 - 11:25 P5: The unusual behavior of zinc soaps in mid-20th-century paint films
Presenter: Dawn Rogala
11:25 - 11:40 Short break
Chair - Klaas Jan van den Berg, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
11.40 - 12.10 INVITED SPEAKER 2 - The dynamics of metal soap formation
Presenter: Joen Hermans
 Poster pitch session II: Formation, migration and environmental influence
12:15 - 12:20 P6: Investigation of the Dynamic Processes Underlying Lead Soap-Related Degradation Phenomena in Multi-Layer Model Systems
Presenter: Annelies van Loon
12:20 - 12:25 P7: Ageing of natural resins in presence of pigments: metal soaps and oxalates formation
Presenter: Tommaso Poli
12:25 - 12:30 P8: Factors affecting the reactivity of zinc oxide with different oils: a vibrational spectroscopy study
Presenter: Francesca Casadio
12:30 - 12:35 P9: Lead(II) soaps: crystal structures, solid and liquid mesophases and glass phases
Presenter: Francisco Javier Martinez-Casado
12:35 - 12:40 P10: An alternative idea for the explanation of protrusion formation based on colloid chemistry?
Presenter: Patrick Dietemann
12:45 - 14:15 Lunch and Poster Session
Chair - Francesca Casadio, The Art Institute of Chicago
14:15 - 14:45 INVITED SPEAKER 3 - Structure and distribution of zinc carboxylates by FTIR spectroscopy and imaging at a macro and micro scale level: from simplified model samples to actual paintings
Presenter: Costanza Miliani
 Poster pitch session III: Formation, migration and environmental influence + Case studies 19th and 20th century art
14:45 - 14:50 P11: Lead soaps: an internal marker for the impact of indoor climate on oil paint degradation
Presenter: Katrien Keune
14:50 - 14:55 P12: An Investigation into the Migration of Metal Ions from Paint and Ground Layers into Varnish Coatings
Presenter: Sally Higgs
14:55 -15:00 P13: Conservation and alteration of painting pigments: the case of green copper metal soaps
Presenter: Marion Alter
15:00 - 15:05 P14: The visual impact of zinc-oxide degradation on two of Salvador Dali’s renowned oil paintings on panel from the 1930’s: the role of external factors and implications for their conservation and restoration treatments
Presenter: Gwendolyn Boevé-Jones
15:05 - 15:10 P15: Metal soaps and the dating of varnish layers:How lead soaps can contribute in the determination of an initial varnish layer
Presenter: Zuhura Iddi
15:15 - 15:30 Instruction to Workshop and transfer to workshop areas
15:30 - 17:00 WORKSHOP SESSION I
Location: to be announced
17:00 - 18:00 PLENARY SESSION: Workshop Discussion
Moderator: Barbara Berrie, Head of Science Research Department, National Gallery of Art, Washington
18:00 - 20:30 Drinks and Finger Food 
Cobra Café, Museumplein
Tuesday 15 March 2016
Chair - Petria Noble, Rijksmuseum
9:15 - 9:45 INVITED SPEAKER 4 - Metal Soaps in Paintings - phenomenologies and challenges for conservation
Presenter: Aviva Burnstock
 Poster pitch session IV: Characterization and Treatment
9:45 - 9:50 P16: The Development of an Aqueous Gel Testing Procedure for the Removal of Inorganic Salt Crusts on the Surface of Paintings by Antonio Giovanni Pellegrini (1675-1741) in the ‘Golden Room’ of the Mauritshuis
Presenter: Carol Pottasch
9:50 - 9:55 P17: Disfiguring oxalate crust
Presenter: Lizet Klaassen
9:55 -10:00 P18: Case study: Scientific investigation and conservation treatment of white spots on The Angel taking leave of Tobit and his family by Jan Victors, 1649, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Presenter: Claire Toussat
10:00 - 10:05 P19: Metal soaps in paintings from the sixteenth to the twentieth century
Presenter: Steven Saverwyns
10:05 - 10:10 P20: The Formation of Calcium Fatty Acid Salts in Oil Paint: Two Case Studies
Presenter: Kate Helwig
10:15 - 10:45 Coffee break
Chair - Marika Spring, National Gallery London
10:45 - 11:15 INVITED SPEAKER 5 - Understanding the Dynamics of Lead Soaps in Oil Paintings 
Speaker: Silvia Centeno
 Poster pitch session V: Advanced techniques and innovative approaches for characterisation
11:15 - 11:20 P21: Identification and distribution of soaps and oxalates in paint layers using synchrotron radiation techniques
Presenter: Nati Salvadó
11:20 - 11:25 P22: The role played by metal soaps in the identification of drying oils
Presenter: Ilaria Bonaduce
11:25 - 11:30 P23: A new approach to image metal-soap morphology at the sub-micron scale: synchrotron deep-UV photoluminescence imaging
Presenter: Mathieu Thoury
11:30 - 11:35 P24: The utility of ATR-FTIR spectroscopy imaging and Cluster Analysis in the study of metal soaps formed in the azurite-based paint layers
Presenter: Zofia Kaszowska
11:35 - 11:40 P25: Non-invasive identification of metal oxalates and carboxylates on paintings by reflection mid-FTIR spectroscopy
Presenter: Francesca Rosi
11:45 - 12:00 Short Break
Chair - Maartje Stols-Witlox, University of Amsterdam
 Poster pitch session VI: Advanced techniques and innovative approaches for characterisation + Case studies 19th and 20th century art
12:00 - 12:05 P26: Examining the Structure and Coordination Environment of Lead Soaps
Presenter: Jaclyn Catalano
12:05 - 12:10 P27: Structural studies of Fe and Cu carboxylates in the context of paintings and metallic artefacts preservation
Presenter: Solenn Reguer
12:10 - 12:15 P28: Investigation of the phenomena of erupting micro-protusions on the surface of oil paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe
Presenter: Johanna Salvant
12:15 - 12:20 P29: The creation and present appearance of Francis Picabia's ‘transparencies'
Presenter: Joyce Townsend
12:20 - 12:25 P30: Metal Soap Mobility in Two Late Works by Francis Picabia: a Major Conservation Challenge and Visual Conundrum
Presenter: Gwendolyn Boevé-Jones
12:30 - 14:00 Lunch and Poster Session
Chair - Annelies van Loon, University of Amsterdam and TU Delft
14:00 - 14:30 INVITED SPEAKER 6 - Polar medium exudates in oil paintings and their disastrous consequences
Speaker: Jaap Boon
 Poster pitch session VII: Case studies 19th and 20th century art + Other applications of metal soaps
14:30 - 14:35 P31: Paintings by Pierre Soulages around 1958-1962 : when metal soaps have severe action - case study
Presenter: Pauline Hélou-de La Grandière
14:35 - 14:40 P32: Metal Soaps on paintings by James Ensor (1860 - 1949)
Presenter: Karen Bonne
14:40 - 14:45 P33: Metal soaps in paintings: broader context
Presenter: Marine Cotte
14:45 - 14:50 P34: Notes on metal soap extenders in modern oil paints - history, use, degradation and analysis
Presenter: Klaas Jan van den Berg
14:50 - 14:55 P35: Metal carboxylates: Friend or foe?
Presenter: Rosie Grayburn
Location: to be announced
16:30 - 17:30 PLENARY SESSION: Workshop Discussion
Moderator: Ken Sutherland, Conservation Scientist, The Art Institute of Chicago
17:30 Closure
Closure by Robert van Langh, Head of Conservation and Scientific Research Department, Rijksmuseum