The phthalocyanine family, and more specifically the copper phthalocyanines (CuPcs) are the most important blue and green artists’ pigments from the end of the 20th century. This thesis focuses on the CuPc blue pigments used in the artists’ paint formulations.
CuPc blue extensive use as modern artists’ pigment and its implications in conservation science are pointed out. Their discovery, chemical composition, molecular structure and general properties are also reviewed. Additionally, the polymorphism and the influence of the crystal form on the final properties of the phthalo blue pigments are discussed. A methodology using non-destructive techniques and statistical analysis is then presented. This new procedure allows the identification of the CuPc crystal form in paint layers and is suitable for artwork analysis.
Some CuPc polymorphs are prone to crystallization defects in presence of aromatic solvents, leading to a reduction of color strength and a shift in hue. Crystallization resistance of the CuPc polymorphs has then been assessed by means of crystallization tests performed on dry pigments and on paint films.
Case studies are then presented. La famille Soler by Picasso has been studied by imaging and non-invasive analytical techniques. The successive underlying compositions have been revealed and the pigments used for the different compositions have been characterized. Then micro-samples taken from Delvaux’s paintings and Francis and Lichtenstein’s studio paints have been analyzed to characterize the blue pigments preferred by these artists. The crystal form of the phthalo blue pigments identified from four micro-samples taken from two Léger and Pechstein fake paintings have been investigated as well. Finally, the historic phthalo blue samples from the Getty Conservation Institute Reference Collection have been studied.