Easel paintings on canvas are subjected to alteration mechanisms triggered or accelerated by moisture. For the study of the spatial distribution and kinetics of such interactions, a moisture exposure chamber was designed and built to perform neutron radiography experiments. Multilayered sized and primed canvas samples were prepared for time-resolved experiments in the ICON cold neutron beamline. The first results show that the set-up gives a good contrast and sufficient resolution to visualise the water uptake in the layers of canvas, size and priming. The results allow, for the first time, real-time visualisation of the interaction of water vapour with such layered systems. This offers important new opportunities for relevant, spatially and time-resolved material behaviour studies and opens the way towards numerical modelling of the process. These first results show that cellulose fibres and glue sizing have a much stronger water uptake than the chalk–glue ground. Additionally, it shows that the uptake rate is not uniform throughout the thickness of the sized canvas. With prolonged moisture exposure, a higher amount of water is accumulating at the lower edge of the canvas weave suggesting a decrease in permeability in the sized canvas with increased water content.

Cham: Springer
Appl. Phys. A

Boon, J. J., Hendrickx, R., Eijkel, G., Cerjak, I., Kaestner, A., & Ferreira, E. S. B. (2015). Neutron radiography for the study of water uptake in painting canvases and preparation layers. Appl. Phys. A, 121(3), 837–847. doi:10.1007/s00339-015-9381-z