The first AiA award of $10,000 Euro for the development of new research methods, tools, software, and methodologies focused on the authentication of paintings was sponsored by Artory LLC, Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, LLC; and Bruker Corporation. Artory, SAFA, and Bruker sponsored the award because of their dedication to bringing transparency to the art market and to pushing the boundaries of the research being conducted in the field of art authentication. The award was presented by Artory CEO and Co-Founder Nanne Dekking, Scientific Analysis of Fine Art President Dr. Jennifer Mass, and Bennett Hong, Principal of Echelon International. Numerous excellent contributions were made for projects designed to push forward the science of painting authentication, and to promote the education of the skills needed for this activity. The winning team of scholars and students developed a novel technique for the microscale radiocarbon dating of paintings. The group, led by Esther Ferreira, has developed a less invasive and highly sensitive method of radiocarbon dating. New innovations in this technique are rare and badly needed, and their methodology called for only 200 micrograms of canvas (reduced from a previous requisite sample size of 10 to 20 milligrams). The increased sensitivity of this technique is revealing dilution of carbon 14 in the atmosphere as a result of increased burning of petrochemical fuels, and this dilution means that in a matter of decades nineteenth century paintings may no longer be accessible to us for radiocarbon dating because the errors involved will be too high. The research was conducted by Laura Hendricks, Irka Hajdas, Markus Küffner, Cameron McIntyre, Nadim C. Scherrer, and Ester S. B. Ferreira, who represent the Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics ETH Zurich, the Swiss Institute for Art Research Zurich, The Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center Glasgow, The Bern University of Applied Science, and the Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences.
To see the winning proposal click here