We review methods and recent studies in which macroscopic to (sub)microscopic X-ray beams were used for nondestructive analysis and characterization of pigments, paint microsamples, and/or entire paintings. We discuss the use of portable laboratory- and synchrotron-based instrumentation and describe several variants of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis used for elemental analysis and imaging and combined with X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Macroscopic and microscopic (μ-)XRF variants of this method are suitable for visualizing the elemental distribution of key elements in paint multilayers. Technical innovations such as multielement, large-area XRF detectors have enabled such developments. The use of methods limited to elemental analysis or imaging usually is not sufficient to elucidate the chemical transformations that take place during natural pigment alteration processes. However, synchrotron-based combinations of μ-XRF, μ-XAS, and μ-XRD are suitable for such studies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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