Technical analyses of works of art are undertaken in support of conservation and curatorial research. Knowledge of artists’ materials and techniques can provide a wealth of information on historic technologies and production methods, as well as on artists’ skills and, occasionally, identity. It allows for comparisons of practices within and across artistic media and geographical areas.
The variety of materials and techniques employed by artists throughout history requires the use of multiple, complementary analytical methods in order to clarify their identity. Technical analyses at the Fitzwilliam Museum are carried out using mainly non-invasive methods, which do not require the removal of samples from the objects under study.