A Critical Review on the Analysis of Metal Soaps in Oil Paintings

Francesca Caterina Izzo, Matilde Kratter, Austin Nevin, Elisabetta Zendri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Up to 70 % of the oil paintings conserved in collections present metal soaps, which result from the chemical reaction between metal ions present in the painted layers and free fatty acids from the lipidic binders. In recent decades, conservators and conservation scientists have been systematically identifying various and frequent conservation problems that can be linked to the formation of metal soaps. It is also increasingly recognized that metal soap formation may not compromise the integrity of paint so there is a need for careful assessment of the implications of metal soaps for conservation. This review aims to critically assess scientific literature related to commonly adopted analytical techniques for the analysis of metal soaps in oil paintings. A comparison of different analytical methods is provided, highlighting advantages associated with each, as well as limitations identified through the analysis of reference materials and applications to the analysis of samples from historical paintings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-921
Number of pages1
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 17 2021


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