Analysis of Red Chalk Drawings from the Workshop of Giovanni Battista Piranesi using Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy
The viability of fiber optics reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) for the differentiation of red chalk drawing media was investigated, focusing on the group of drawings from the workshop of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Germany. The evaluation of spectra was supported by principal component analysis. The method was tested on mockup drawings made with recently acquired natural and fabricated red chalks of known origin. It was possible to sort these
... le to sort these mockup drawings according to chalk type and application technique. The compositional differences of these reference chalks were confirmed by X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy. Subsequent FORS analysis of selected original drawings revealed the existence of several closely grouped clusters, implying similarities on the basis of the underlying spectral features among the historical red chalks used in Rome. These similarities distinguished the historical drawings from the red chalk mockup drawings, except for the drawings made with red chalk samples from the area near the town of Theley, Germany, which were shown to bear close similarities to those in the cluster of historical samples.