Micro-samples from 57 original paint tubes used between 1904 and 1909 by the Norwegian painter, Harriet Backer were studied with inductively coupled plasma–optical emission spectroscopy (ICP–OES). This accurate elemental characterisation of Backer’s original materials aims to fill several gaps in conservation science, painting conservation, and art technology. Firstly, it provides a novel and validated analytical method that can be applied to other painting materials. Secondly, ICP–OES offers scientific information about different oil colours from the late 19th to the early 20th century by Dr. Schoenfeld & Co., Düsseldorf, currently known as Lukas–Nerchau, whose archives were depleted during the Second World War. This work also lends new insights into the paintings of a renowned female Norwegian artist, whose painting materials have been little studied to date. ICP–OES results, coupled with a comprehensive, illustrated catalogue of paint tubes, will be instrumental for ongoing scientific investigations of this painter’s body of work.
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