Research

Recent years

In the mid-1980’s, Jorge Cuní, an architect, began working with his father in researching encaustic technique, opening new lines in the development of encaustic painting and systematically studying the ancient sources on matters of painting, archaeological material in museums and excavations, reconstructions of the encaustic technique attempted in modern times, and publications of chemical studies of Greco-Roman paintings.

In 1989 he received a Fulbright scholarship to carry out chemical studies of Roman wall paintings at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute, Washington, D.C. The study analyzed –via gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and infrared spectrometry– samples of Roman wall paintings from Mérida and Complutum (Spain), and Marsala (Italy). Results indicated that the wall paintings studied were executed with water-soluble encaustic. These results were published in 1993 by Archivo Español de Arqueología.

Pedro Cuní, an instructor of painting techniques at The Cooper Union School of Art in New York, and a teacher of painting at Parsons School of Design in New York, carried out a chemical study of samples of Roman paintings on wall and wood at the Cooper Union Department of Chemistry. The FTIR and GC analyses of wall paintings from Ampurias, Marsala, Baelo Claudia and Cartagena (Spain) and a Fayum painting on wood, indicate that Roman paintings on wall and wood were done with the same painting technique of beeswax and soap. The results of this study were published in 2012 in the peer-reviewed research journal Analytical Methods.