Journal of chromatography. A

Identification of lipid binders in old oil paintings by separation of 4-bromomethyl-7-methoxycoumarin derivatives of fatty acids by liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection.

PMID 15974068


A HPLC-fluorescence method for identification of drying oils from binding media or protective film used in pictorial works of art prior to conservation or restoration is proposed. Fluorescence derivatization of fatty acids released by hydrolysis of structural drying oils is studied. The derivatization reagent was 4-(bromomethyl)-7-methoxycoumarin with 18-crown-6 as catalyst. Mobile phase was programmed from methanol-water (90:10 v/v) to methanol-water (100:0 v/v) in 25 min. The excitation and emission wavelengths were 325 and 395 nm, respectively. Under these chromatographic conditions, coumarin derivatives of myristic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids were satisfactorily resolved. The method shows good sensitivity, with a detection limit of 6.0 x 10(-8) mmol, and good linearity between 1.0 x 10(-7) and 1.8 x 10(-4) mmol of each analyte. Peak area ratios among fatty acids derivatives, especially the stearic acid/palmitic acid peak area ratio, are useful to identify the drying oils. The proposed method has been successfully applied to artistic samples from items of the cultural heritage of Valencia (Spain).