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Investigating Nineteenth Century Gel Mediums: From Historical Recipes to Model Systems

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-04, 15:20 authored by Hélène Pasco, Leslie Carlyle, Marco Faustini, Helen Glanville, Clément Sanchez, Philippe Walter, Laurence de Viguerie

Gelled mediums were widely used during the nineteenth century, added to paint on the palette to modify its rheological, optical, and drying properties. Many variations of gelled mediums exist in the literature, all with the common basis of mastic resin or varnish, drying oil, and a lead compound. With the aim of unveiling the chemistry of such systems, reconstructions were carried out not only following the historical recipes, but in addition, exploring variations and simplifications to get a better understanding of the key ingredients and interactions inducing gelation. Different parameters were tested to establish whether these have an impact on the gelation mechanisms, particularly the influence of the nature and proportions of the ingredients and the preparation process. These reconstructions and their FTIR characterisation reveal the formation of metal-resin soaps, but also underline the specific role of lead in the gelation.


The PhD of Hélène Pasco was funded by the ED397 (Sorbonne Université) and the LabEx MiChem, part of the French state funds managed by the ANR within the investissements d’avenir programme under reference ANR-11-10EX-0004-02.