Projects / Cultural Heritage / Analysis of wall painting ligands

Analysis of egg-based model wall paintings


In collaboration with:

Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, Italy

Luigi Dei, Mariangela Potenza, Luca Rosi

Department of Earth Science, University of Siena, Italy

Andrea Atrei, Elena Gaggelli, Isabella Memmi, Nadia Marchettini, Daniela Valensin, Gianni Valensin

In the context of  the SICAMOR project  (Development of Chemical Investigations Applied for Maintenance and Restoration of Artworks, P.A.R.FAS REGIONE TOSCANA) the Dipartimento di Chimica "Ugo Schiff", Università di Firenze and the Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Siena collaborate to develop new techniques for the characterization of protein-based painting binders in wall paintings: the "mezzo fresco" technique.

The aim of the collaboration is the chemical analysis of egg-based binders.

Identification of protein binders is based on the relative abundance of the protein, peptide, and amino acid components.

Two different techniques to detect protein components of egg-based wall paintings are investigated: a revised procedure for a dot-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (dot-ELISA) and the amino acid analysis performed by an innovative ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) with UV detection coupled to pre-column derivatization with AccQ•Tag Ultra methodology. In particular UPLC is a new and reliable technique for amino acid analysis and it is used for the first time as an analytical technique for investigating the different protein components of egg-based wall paintings.


 Chromatograms obtained by UPLC from model samples: (a) egg tempera; (b) milk tempera; (c) glue tempera


 Results from dot-ELISA of Giotto’s “S. Francis receiving the Stigmata” samples with blank, negative, and positive controls.



Poster presentations

Diagnostics of egg-based paintings in cultural heritage: an innovative combined Dot-ELISA and UPLC-based amino acid analysis approach. M. Potenza, G. Sabatino, F. Giambi, L. Rosi, L.Dei and A.M.Papini COST: Workshop The Safeguard Of Cultural Heritage: a Challenge from the Past for the Europe of Tomorrow, Firenze 11-13 luglio 2011, Italy 

UPLC-based amino acid analysis of paintings and statistical analysis of chromatographic profiles for conservation of cultural heritage. G. Sabatino, F. Di Pisa, M. Potenza, L. Dei, and A.M. Papini. 32 European Peptide Symposium, 2-7 Settembre 2012 Atene, Greece

Analysis of egg-based model wall paintings using an innovative combined dot-elisa and uplc-based approach. M. Potenza, G. Sabatino, F. Giambi, L. Rosi, AM. Papini, and L. Dei. XXIII Congresso Nazionale Di Chimica Analitica, 16-20 settembre 2012, Hotel Hermitage, Biodola, Isola d’Elba, Italy.


doi: 10.1007/s00216-012-6049-9


Analysis of egg-based model wall paintings by use of an innovative combined dot-ELISA and UPLC-based approach.

M. Potenza, G. Sabatino, F. Giambi, L. Rosi, A.M. Papini, L. Dei. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (2013) 405, 691-701.