An integrated analytical study of crayons from the original art materials collection of the MUNCH museum in Oslo

March 31, 2021


An integrated analytical study of crayons from the original art materials collection of the MUNCH museum in Oslo


Jacopo La Nasa, Brenda Doherty, Francesca Rosi, Chiara Braccini, Frederique T. H. Broers, Ilaria Degano, Jordi Moles Matinero, Costanza Miliani, Francesca Modugno, Francesca Sabatini, Irina Crina Anca Sandu & Laura Cartechini




Scientific Reports volume 11, Article number: 7152 (2021)


Among the artists’ materials of the nineteenth century, pastel crayons merit scientific interest since their early commercial formulations are mostly unknown and, until now, have been considerably less studied with respect to other contemporary painting materials. In this framework, research herein reports the results of a comprehensive multi-analytical study of 44 pastel crayons of two recognized brands (LeFranc and Dr. F. Schoenfeld) from the Munch museum collection of original materials belonging to Edvard Munch. The integrated use of complementary spectroscopic and hyphenated mass-spectrometry techniques allowed the compositional profiles of the crayons to be traced providing the identification of the inorganic and organic pigments, the fillers/extenders and the binders. All crayons resulted to be oil- based and the binder was identified to be a mixture of a drying oil (safflower or linseed oil), palm oil or Japan wax and beeswax. Among others, pigments such as ultramarine, chrome yellows, Prussian blue, manganese violet, viridian and madder lake have been identified. A significant alignment in formulations of the brands was observed with the only exception of the greens which showed distinctive pigment and filler compositions. The analytical information provided for these commercial artists’ materials will be of great interest for academia, museum and other institutions hosting art collections dating from the same period and it will be used by the Munch museum to draw proper conservation strategies of its own artwork collections.


FTIR-4100, NRS-3100


pastel crayons, nineteenth century, artists' materials, inorganic pigments, organic pigments, Edvard Munch, hyphenated mass-spectrometry, Raman