A technical analysis of paint media used in twentieth-century Vietnamese lacquer paintings

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Bettina Ebert; Michael R. Schilling;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number sup3, p.52-67 (2016)


Asiarta Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute have collaborated in research to study Vietnamese lacquer paintings. The primary aim of the project is to gain a deeper understanding of the materials and techniques used in these unique lacquer paintings through technical analysis of various lacquer samples from paintings and from different sources in Vietnam complemented by in-depth interviews with Vietnamese lacquer artists. The origins and development of Vietnamese lacquer painting are outlined, followed by a description of the typical production processes involved in the manufacture of lacquer paintings. The analytical methods used for the analysis of lacquer samples as well as an outline of the methodology employed are briefly described. The results of the analyses are summarized and discussed. Samples were found to contain ingredients obtained from tree species indigenous to Vietnam and Cambodia, and interestingly some samples contained a combination of the less expensive cashew nut shell liquid lacquer, drying oils, tree resins, and drying additives. In addition, analysis indicated that some samples contained non-Asian lacquer-based ingredients.