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Microscopes -- Digital Holographic, Red chromophores


Red organic dye identification is an important topic for conservation of Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Of particular interest are the works of Suzuki Harunobu, who was working at the inception of full-color printmaking. These prints were made on thin kōzo paper and woodblock printed with semi-transparent to opaque regions of dye(s) and/ or pigment(s) mixed with binder. This study used imaging analysis, X-ray fluorescence (XRF), Raman, and surfaceenhanced Raman spectroscopies (SERS) to identify the red dyes and pigments on Harunobu prints in the collection of the Portland Art Museum. Through image analysis (visible, UV, and IR illuminations), 23 prints were categorized by appearance. XRF results provided identification of vermilion and ochre pigments, and identified color fields that contained lead. Raman analysis allowed the identification of red lead, and SERS was used to identify both safflower and madder dyes. This work is expected to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the red dye and pigment palette and mixtures in use in the mid- to late eighteenth century, in the critical early years of full-color printmaking.


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