Methodology

A simple, one-tube extraction/digestion protocol was developed and applied to a variety of proteinaceous materials in artworks (paint binders, grounds and coatings) (Kirby 2011). The method is robust, sensitive and easily implemented in a museum laboratory. Sample sizes are estimated to be a few tens of micrograms or less, consistent with micro-destructive sampling techniques routinely used in conservation. This protocol was applied to a variety of parchments including a 4-7th c. Coptic Codex, 17th and 18th c. books and legal documents, and the torso in Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés (unpublished results). We were able to determine the species of origin of these materials by comparison with reference materials (sheep, goat, deer and cattle) or published markers.