This paper reports on recent investigations into the scientific evaluation of surface cleaning acrylic emulsion paintings on canvas in Tates collection painted between 1962 and 1973. Typical problems exhibited included: grime; embedded dirt; a fine whitish surface layer; fingerprints; scuffs; marks; drip marks and evidence of previous cleaning treatment. Changes to the painting surfaces after cleaning or test cleaning were evaluated using: conductivity, pH, colour and gloss measurements; a range of FTIR techniques, and ESI-MS analysis of cotton swabs. Polyethoxylate-type surfactants Triton X-405 and X-305 were identified on synthetic organic and iron-based paints. Surfactant abundance reduced with aqueous swabbing and not with aliphatic solvents. Conductivity decreased, gloss increased slightly and colour change was negligible. Data generally concurs with model and contemporary paint formulations and confirms that aqueous cleaning of acrylic emulsion paintings results in the at least partial removal of surfactant where present.
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Ormsby, B., Smithen, P., Hoogland, F. G., Miliani, C., & Learner, T. (2008). A scientific evaluation of surface cleaning acrylic emulsion paintings. In 15th Triennial Conference, New Delhi, 22-26 September 2008 : Preprints (pp. 865–873).