NDT&E International 49 (2012) 40–46

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NDT&E International
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ndteint

Stimulated infrared thermography applied to help restoring mural paintings
J.L. Bodnar a,n, J.C. Candore´ a, J.L. Nicolas a, G. Szatanik b, V. Detalle c, J.M. Vallet d
a

GRESPI/ECATHERM, UFR Sciences Exactes et Naturelles, BP 1039, 51687 Reims, France
PAINTING RESTORER, 60, avenue Jean Jaure s, Bˆ
atiment 9, 92190 Meudon, France
LRMH, 29 avenue du Paris, 77420 Champs sur Marne, France
d
CICRP, 21 rue Guibal, 13003 Marseille, France
b
c

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 22 July 2011
Received in revised form
16 March 2012
Accepted 19 March 2012
Available online 28 March 2012

In this work, various examples of the use of the stimulated infrared thermography to help restore mural
paintings are presented. First, the principles of this technique are expounded. Then, examples of devices
used for the study are described. Finally, we show the possibility of in situ detection of detachments in
different mural paintings: ‘‘Saint Christophe’’ belonging to the ‘‘Campana’’ collection in the ‘‘Louvre’’,
painted walls in the ‘‘Saint Florentin’’ church in ‘‘Bonnet’’, painted ceilings in the ‘‘Saint-Savin-surGartempe’’ abbey (classified in the UNESCO world heritage), and the ‘‘Cocteau’’ frescoes in the ‘‘Saint
Pierre’’ vault in ‘‘Villefranche-sur-Mer’’.
& 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Finger tapping analysis
Detachment detection
Fresco
In situ analysis
Louvre
Mural painting
Non destructive testing
Painting on canvas
Salt detection
Stimulated infrared thermography
UNESCO world heritage
Work of art

1. Introduction
Within the framework of art restoration, the research laboratory
of historical monuments (LRMH), the interregional center for
heritage conservation and restoration (CICRP) and the restorers
use many methods and instruments. These include visible photography, ultraviolet photography, infrared photography, static infrared thermography, optical interferometry, X ray radiography,
spectroscopy, liquid or vapor phase chromatography, the particle
accelerator AGLAE, nuclear analysis, finger tapping method etc.
[1–7]. They are high performance methods in their applications
fields. But, they are not universal. On one hand, their implementation can take a long time and be strenuous. For example, the
detection of defects in very large mural paintings (in churches) by
finger tapping analysis can be cited [1]. On the other hand, their
principle can be limited to observe the natural radiation of the
studied sample. It does not allow the hidden defect detection

n

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: jl.bodnar@univ-reims.fr (J.L. Bodnar).

0963-8695/$ - see front matter & 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ndteint.2012.03.007

(static infrared thermography). The GRESPI/ECATHERM of Reims
University has worked for approximately 20 years in the development of a particular non-destructive testing method: stimulated
infrared thermography. This method is non-destructive. It is without contact and is used for the thermophysical analysis of thin
materials. It was already implemented to detect and characterize
various types of localized or extended hidden defects (delaminations, cracks, inclusions etc.), in various types of materials [1–16]. It
seems liable to be used in the field of mural painting restoration. It
explains why, for a few years, several research teams, among witch
the GRESPI/ECATHERM, work in this field [17–30]. In this paper, we
present various examples of the stimulated infrared thermography
used to help mural paintings restoration. First, the principles of the
technique are presented, then, examples of devices used for the
study are shown. Finally, we show the possibility of in situ
detachments detection in different murals paintings: ‘‘Saint Christophe’’ belonging to the ‘‘Louvre’’ ‘‘Campana’’ collection, painted
walls in the ‘‘Saint Florentin’’ church (‘‘Bonnet’’), painted ceilings in
the ‘‘Saint-Savin-sur Gartempe’’ abbey (classified in the UNESCO
world heritage), and the ‘‘Cocteau’’ frescoes in the ‘‘Saint Pierre’’
vault in ‘‘Villefranche-sur-Mer’’.

temperature. Finally. They are due to the insulating properties of the plastazote. The first ones are quantum detector and cooling cameras (‘‘thermovision 782’’ and ‘‘JADE 2’’). It is better for an industrial transfer. Its depth is equal to 5 mm. the principle of the method ensures it is non-destructive. It was painted. The photothermal signal collected by the infrared radiometer thus depends on parameters governing these physical phenomena: thermal conductivity. An example of photothermal results obtained is presented in Fig. 4. The duration of analysis is equal to 300 s. Experimental results The first mural painting analyzed is a partial copy of ‘‘Saint Christophe’’. Fig. 2(b)). a ‘‘long wave’’ infrared camera of thermography was chosen. Finally. It was sufficient for our first study. internal structure of the material. an insulating material. To approach possibilities of the photothermal method for the defect detection. 190 s after the end of the excitation. using the primitive Italian technique. It can be observed by an infrared thermography camera. were implemented (Fig. portable and cheap. The third defect is located in the lower and left part of the fresco. Example of experimental device used for the analysis of mural paintings. It is a pre-study sample of the original ‘‘Saint Christophe’’ (Fig. progress of a physical and chemical transformation. The length of the academic fresco is 20 cm. It is the photothermal response of the studied fresco. . and its thickness 3 cm. Its depth is equal to 3 mm. The whole is covered with a pictorial layer. during the radiation/ material interaction slightly warms the surface of the work of art. The first defect is located in the upper and left part of the fresco. This NDT method then allows the study of these different parameters. This is a well-known method.L Bodnar et al. flexible and easily customized according to needs. This is the method generally used for stimulated infrared thermography. it is an easy to implement. the analyzed sample with a flux of photons is excited. Its NETD equals about 100 mK. it must be simple to use. It was painted ‘‘al fresco’’ and represents the Infant Jesus. 1). This energy. 2(c). The experimental device used for the study In the long term. The infrared camera used is a ‘‘CEDIP JADE 2’’. We also took into account the (potential) important dimensions of the defect. 41 fast analysis method. etc. Its depth varies between 3 mm and 10 mm. this distribution was slowed down. 1. specific heat and density. The experimental conditions retained for the study are the following: The duration of the excitation is equal to 120 s. So. thermal emissivity. it contains 4 defects (Fig. The power of excitation is equal to 2n250 W. presence of cracks. its width is 20 cm. This figure shows clearly 4 more important infrared signatures. in 2005. The thermo physical phenomena used by this NDT method are thermal conduction and thermal radiation. thermal diffusivity. Indeed the principle of our non destructive testing method consists in exciting the analyzed sample with visible light. without any contact. we wanted to conceive and produce a device usable by restorers. but are expensive. Its depth is equal to 3 mm. electronics and a computer. The second defect is located in the upper and right part of the fresco. At the place of the insulating defect. The studied academic fresco (a). It is a modern copy: a block of plaster covered by a mixture of lime and plaster. Finally. There are the first available cameras used. Finally. It is a cheap camera. Then. Principle of the stimulated infrared thermography The principle of stimulated infrared thermography is simple. the use of two type of camera was possible. / NDT&E International 49 (2012) 40–46 2. It is the best wavelength range for the study of ‘‘cold’’ samples (20 1C). sturdy. for the photothermal analysis.J. So halogens lamps to light the studied sample were chosen. This variation of temperature leads to a variation of the infrared radiation of the studied material. Then. drying and sedimentation. In a third stage. Theses signatures correspond with a maximum increase of temperature equal to 12 1C (20 1C-32 1C). It is 4 inclusions of plastazote (emalene). It enables a Fig. In addition. The heat then propagates by conduction in the fresco. from the ‘‘Campana’’ collection in the ‘‘Louvre’’ (Fig. this choice allows a symmetric excitation of the studied sample. a bolometer camera (‘‘FLIR’’ A20) was put to use. 2(a)). The absorption of theses photons produces an increase of the temperature in the vicinity of the lighted area. Its light spectrum is approximately flat in the visible domain. the position of internal defects (b) and the photothermal results obtained (c). First. 2. a pulsed excitation was chosen for use. 3(a)). Finally. 3. This choice makes possible not to detect the excitation light. theses parameters can be correlated to the following: aspect of surface. It is a cheap device and easy to monitor. The last defect is located in the lower and right part of the fresco. presence of delamination.

its width 74 cm. Fig. It also shows that the method is indeed non-destructive (even if the increase of surface temperature is not insignificant). 3. led to the same acoustic signature of the finger tapping analyses. it was analyzed zone by zone. The infrared camera used is a ‘‘Thermovision 782’’. The studied ‘‘Saint Christophe’’ fresco (a) and the finger tapping analysis (b). the defects detected are less significant than by the finger tapping method. Apparently. In a second stage. Its height is 85.L Bodnar et al. It also shows that the photothermal method is less destructive than finger . It was painted between 1385 and 1390. / NDT&E International 49 (2012) 40–46 Fig. Fig. This work of art represents Saint Christopher carrying the Infant Jesus. It then shows that the photothermal method is faster and more objective than the finger tapping analysis (indeed this method is highly dependent on the restorer’s experience). at the same time. 4. 3(b)). It does not allow the detection of the deepest defects (example of the defect situated on the upper and right part of the mural painting). In Fig. The analysis of a real fresco appears to be possible.42 J. The non detected defects located at the upper and right part of the fresco. the results obtained on the whole fresco are compared. This experimental result clearly shows the possibilities of the photothermal method for the detection of defect located in mural painting. this work of art was initially analyzed by Gabriella Szatanick. Indeed the detected defect by photothermal method. This thermal effect leads to a lower decrease of temperature straight above the inclusions. The results obtained are presented in Fig. This study shows first.8 cm. that in the conditions of implementation of the photothermal method. It shows then. Experimental results obtained by finger tapping (a) and photothermal analysis (b) of the ‘‘Saint Christophe’’. It shows a lot of grey area at the position of abnormal finger tapping response. this work of art was analyzed with the photothermal method. The duration of analysis is equal to 900 s. gave a different sound. The experimental conditions retained for the study are the following: the duration of the excitation is equal to 120 s. We therefore took advantage of this restoration to study the possibilities of the photothermal method to help fresco restoration. It is the defects positions. It leads finally to a more important infrared signature for this place. 4. 3(a)). Fig. the possibility to analyze a genuine work of art by stimulated infrared thermography. this fresco was in a restoration phase. She is a restorer and used the finger tapping method (Fig. 4(a) relates to the finger tapping analysis. The power of excitation is equal to 2n800 W. 4(a). The second mural painting analyzed is the genuine ‘‘Saint Christophe’’. It is attributed to Tommaso del Mazza. 4(b) relates to the photothermal analysis. It is a part of the ‘‘Campana ’’collection at the ‘‘Louvre’’ (Fig. To obtain references results. To obtain a sufficient spatial resolution. At the time of our study. The comparison between the two figures shows first that the defects detected by the photothermal method are also detected by the finger tapping method. characteristic of a deep defect. it is due to the too short duration of the excitation.

The result obtained shows two abnormal finger tapping responses. in the dust. The painting on canvas studied is the ‘‘Saint Martin’’ of the ‘‘Saint Florentin’’ church in ‘‘Bonnet’’ (Fig. The fourth work of art studied is a mural painting of the nave of the abbey of ‘‘Saint. It shows then the possibilities of the photothermal method to detect detachment of painting on canvas. This campaign is focused on the restoration of the painting of the nave. which is more than 40 m long.Savin-sur-Gartempe’’.9 1C-20. This art work is then analyzed. Because of the antiquity of this work of art. The first is located in the upper part of the wheel of the wagon. 8.L Bodnar et al. 5. To obtain a reference result. They are characteristic of the Romanesque period. It dates from the 19th century. we developed a stimulated infrared thermography analysis. They represent religious themes inspired by the Bible. / NDT&E International 49 (2012) 40–46 tapping analysis for the defects located near the surface of mural paintings Finally. it was the chance to test the possibilities of stimulated infrared thermography in real conditions of restoration: on a scaffold. Fig. In a second phase. The results presented here concern the study of the fresco entitled ‘‘ La traverse´e du de´sert’’. To start with and like in the previous case. the major source for the art in the middle Ages. it demonstrates that the photothermal method.J. 43 as a UNESCO world heritage site. The duration of analysis Fig. 8(b)). For our research work. its width 1. The second was developed in 1967. 5(b)). It first shows clearly more important photothermal signature (maximum increase of temperature equal to 8. . first developed a finger tapping analysis of this work of art. The experimental conditions retained for the study are the following: The duration of the excitation is equal to 300 s. in a limited time. The zone surrounding the back wheel of the wagon was more particularly studied (Fig. because of the exceptional quality of its mural paintings. throughout the study of the time appearance of defect signature. The power of excitation is equal to 2n500 W. seems to allow the dimensional characterization of the defects. Finger tapping (a) and photothermal (b) analysis of the painting on canvas entitled ‘‘Saint Martin’’ of church ‘‘Saint Florentin’’ of ‘‘Bonnet’’. The last is in progress (since 2005). The vault of the nave. The aim of this study is to approach the possibility of the photothermal method for the detection of detachment of this kind of work of art.3 1C (11. The obtained result shows a multitude of ‘‘hollow’’ tones around the circumference of the work of art (Fig. An example of photothermal result obtained is presented in Fig. 7(a)). 8(a)). The second is located in the lower part of the wheel (Fig. by using stimulated infrared thermography. is completely covered with mural paintings over a surface area of about 500 m2 (Fig. simultaneously with other art restoration work and with a temperature of only a few degrees. we developed a finger tapping analyze of the work of art (Fig. Its height is about 2. The power of excitation is equal to 2n500 W. Prosper Me´rime´e initiated the first restoration campaign in 1835. This Abbey is classified since 1984. restorers. 5(a)).5 m.5 m. 6(a)). The infrared camera used is a bolometer camera (‘‘FLIR’’ A20). They illustrate the Genesis and the Exodus. 6. The third mural painting studied is a painting on canvas. it has to be restored. These mural paintings were completed at the end of the 11th century. The studied painting on canvas entitled ‘‘Saint Martin’’ of the church ‘‘Saint Florentin’’ of ‘‘Bonnet’’ (a) and its finger tapping analysis (b). The duration of analysis is equal to 600 s. The experimental conditions retained for the study are the following: the duration of the excitation is equal to 300 s.2 1C) at the place located by the finger tapping analysis. Brice Moulinier and Emmanuelle Cante.

the photothermal method indicates two defects. In this part of the work of art.4 1C (10. Because. this work of art was studied by stimulated infrared thermography. in the crystallization phase. First. 8(b) shows some difference between the two statements. salts can lead to a detachment of the pictorial layer and then to a deterioration of the work of art. is equal to 720 s. it shows more important photothermal signature at the place located by the finger tapping analysis. There is then a reasonable correlation between the results supplied by both physical methods. We can then underline the possibilities of the photothermal method to separate two close defects. An example of photothermal result obtained is shown in Fig.L Bodnar et al. especially in the lower part of the wheel. It shows 3 types of defect connected to the capillary ascents and to the crystallization of salts. Indeed. Second. 7. The power of excitation . indicating two defects. 9(a)). though relatively recent. This church is entirely covered by mural paintings made by Jean Cocteau in 1956 and 1957 (Fig. This is a very important result.44 J. The infrared camera used is a bolometer camera (‘‘FLIR A20’’). In a second phase. In red. the finger tapping result would have led to an incomplete consolidation. The murals paintings of the abbey of ‘‘Saint Savin sur Gartempe’’ (a) and the studied mural painting entitled ‘‘la traverse´e du desert’’ (b). we can say that first the photothermal method can be used in real conditions of restoration. / NDT&E International 49 (2012) 40–46 Fig. while the finger tapping method detects only one defect. To finish this study. 10(a)). We then asked the restorer a new finger tapping analysis. Fig.7 1C). The part of the ‘‘Saint Pierre’’ church analyzed is the mural painting entitled ‘‘Saint Pierre livre´ aux soldats de Pilate’’ (Fig. The photothermal statement. already suffer from the effects of their surroundings and from the behavior of our contemporaries. only one detachment could have be restored. 8. The presence of salt in mural painting can be dangerous for the work of art. 9(b)).3 1C-13. The last work of art studied is a mural painting of the ‘‘Saint Pierre’’ church in ‘‘Villefranche-sur-Mer’’. In blue. They are already slightly degraded. Finger tapping (a) and photothermal (b) analysis of the mural painting entitled ‘‘la traverse´e du desert’’ of abbey of ‘‘Saint Savin sur Gartempe’’. Indeed in the restoration phase. The new finger tapping statement made by restorers then confirmed the presence of two separate defects. 8(b). Theses signatures correspond to a maximum increase of temperature equal to 3. 10(a). it is the rashes of salts. Particularly. avoids this problem. it is the bubbling. Theses mural paintings. The result obtained is presented in Fig. Restorers first analyzed this work of art. restorers’ statements show delamination and also rashes of salts (Fig. The experimental conditions retained for the study are the following: The duration of the excitation is equal to 60 s. The possibilities of the stimulated infrared thermography to the salt detection were then approached. Fig. it is the lacuna. In green.

L Bodnar et al. Finally. These results show that the photothermal method seems to be a new tool in helping mural painting restoration. An example of obtained result is presented in Fig. from the ‘‘Campana’’ collection in the ‘‘Louvre’’. / NDT&E International 49 (2012) 40–46 45 Fig. sept 2004. the possibilities of the photothermal method for the defect characterization need to be studied. the possibilities of the stimulated infrared thermography to help restoring mural paintings are approached. the study of the mural painting entitles ‘‘La traverse du Desert’’ in the ‘‘Saint-Savin-surGartempe’’ abbey (classified in the UNESCO world heritage) shows first that the photothermal method is usable in real conditions of restoration. The murals paintings of the church ‘‘Saint Pierre’’ of ‘‘Villefranche sur mer’’ (a) and the studied mural painting entitled ‘‘Saint Pierre livre´ aux soldats de Pilate’’ (b).32(31): 6236–41. Essai d’application de la thermographie infrarouge stimule´e pour l’examen du support. It is also less destructive than finger tapping analysis for defects located near the surface of mural paintings. at the place located by the restorers. faster and more objective detection of defects. Artwork diagnostics with fiber optic digital speckel pattern interferometry. Louvre). The visual and finger tapping statement of the restorers (a): Rashes of salts (red). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend. first confirms the possibilities of defect detection by the photothermal method. [3] Paoletti D. Etude et restauration d’une peinture murale repre´sentant Saint Christophe (collection Campana. It also shows that the photothermal method seems to allow a detection and separation of two close defects. Schirripa Spagnolo G. smallest variation in humidity) photothermal method (random excitation?).J. Fourth. Facchini M. the reader is reffered to the web version of this article. De´roche. Appl Opt 1993. The duration of analysis is equal to 180 s.5 1C). the study of the mural painting entitled ‘‘Saint Martin’’ in the ‘‘Saint Florentin’’ church (‘‘Bonnet’’) shows the possibilities of detecting detachment of painting on canvas. It shows first more important photothermal signature (maximum increase of temperature equal to 8. First. Then. Studies pointing in that direction are under way. The infrared camera used is a bolometer camera (‘‘FLIR A20’’). Fig. Zanetta P. Paris: C. (This characterization would be able to lead a 3D representation of the defect whereas the finger tapping analysis can give only a 2D representation). the study of the mural painting entitled ‘‘ Saint Pierre livre´ aux soldats de Pilate’’ in the ‘‘Saint Pierre’’ church (‘‘Villefranche-sur-Mer’’) shows the possibilities to detect salt damage by stimulated infrared thermography. These very encouraging results have now to be confirmed and completed. Conclusion In this work. Le Livre De L’art. In a third stage. Moreover. bubbings (blue) and lacunas (green) and the photothermal results (b) obtained during the analysis of the mural painting entitled ‘‘Saint Pierre livre´ aux soldats de Pilate’’ of the church ‘‘Saint Pierre’’ of ‘‘villefranche sur mer’’. Finally. the study of an academic fresco shows the possibilities to detect ‘‘plastazote’’ inclusion by the photothermal method. Then. We have to define and implement the most complete photothermal method. [2] Cennini C. we have to study the post treatments procedures to highlight the useful photothermal information in a better way and to remove the artifacts of detection. .5 1C (24 1C-32. to allow a more precise. INP.) is equal to 2n400 W. with regard to the finger tapping method. It shows then the possibilities of the photothermal method for the salts detection. 9. 10. 5. References [1] Szatanik G. This study also shows that the photothermal method seems. 1991. The need then is to define and implement the less disturbing (smallest variations in temperature. the study of the mural painting entitled ‘‘Saint Christophe’’. 10(b). it shows that the photothermal response is often correlated to the traditional finger tapping response.

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