Comparing Compositions of Modern Cast Bronze Sculptures: Optical Emission Spectroscopy Versus x-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy

M. L. Young*, David C Dunand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bulk elemental compositions of 74 modern cast bronze sculptures from the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Rodin Museum (Philadelphia, PA) were determined using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) and a handheld x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer. The elemental compositions of the cast sculptures as measured previously by ICP-OES and presently by XRF are compared: A good match is found between the two methods for the base metal (Cu) and the two majority alloying elements (Zn and Sn). For both ICP-OES and XRF data, when the Zn composition is plotted versus the Sn composition, three discernable clusters are found that are related to the artist, foundry, casting date, and casting method; they consist of (A) high-zinc brass, (B) low-zinc, low-tin brass, and (C) low-zinc, tin bronze. Thus, our study confirms that the relatively fast, nondestructive XRF spectrometry can be used effectively over slower and invasive, but more accurate, ICP-OES to help determine a sculpture’s artist, foundry, date of creation, date of casting, and casting method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1646-1658
Number of pages13
JournalJOM
Volume67
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)

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