From model to artefact: Versatile characterization of cinnabar, red lead and realgar red paints for rubrics and miniatures

  • Aušra Čiuladienė
  • Aivaras Kareiva
  • Rimantas Raudonis
Keywords: cinnabar, red lead, realgar, red paints, binders, accelerated aging, SEM-EDX, XRD, FTIR, TG/DSC analysis


This study focuses on the characterization of cinnabar, red lead and realgar paints, since the red colour was very often used for the illuminations and rubrics of medieval manuscript. The commercial pigments (cinnabar (HgS), red lead (Pb3O4), realgar (As4S4)) and binding media (gum Arabic, fish and parchment glue) were used for the preparation of analogous to historical paints. This work is on-going and at this stage, the resulting red paint samples were analysed to create a short data library that could be used to describe the various red paints and their compositions. The obtained paints were characterized before and after accelerated aging using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and thermal (TG/DSC) analysis techniques. These results of versatile characterization are useful to develop red paint guidelines for the storage and how they affect current and future conservation of these objects.
Inorganic Chemistry