Metal Soaps in Art

On 14th and 15th March 2016 a ‘Metal Soaps in Art’ conference is being organized within the framework of NICAS, the newly formed Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science.

Registration for Metal Soaps In Art is closed

We have reached the maximum capacity of our conference facilities. We can no longer accept new participants. Please send an e-mail to to be put on the waiting list.

Challenges and Outlook for Conservation & Analysis

Since the discovery of metal soap-related degradation phenomena in paintings at the beginning of this century, two topic-related conferences were held, the De Mayerne Day Amsterdam in 2005 and the Paintings Speciality Session at the Annual American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works Meeting in 2006. Research on this subject has been continued ever since. It is now time to present the newest insights of metal soap-related degradation in works of art in a two-day conference to be held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 2016.

Metal soap degradation phenomena

coorte Still Life with Asparagus, Adriaen Coorte, 1697In the last decades, the awareness and identification of degradation phenomena in paintings related to metal soaps has increased tremendously. It is estimated that around 70% of paintings in museum collections are affected by some form of metal soap-related degradation. Increased transparency of the paint, insoluble whitish surface hazes, tiny aggregates deforming the paint surface, water sensitive and dripping paints are examples of paint defects caused by the formation of metal soaps. Conservators are confronted with these affected paintings, and are trying to find suitable treatments, optimal display and storage conditions. Scientists apply the latest high-tech analytical techniques and diagnostic tools with the aim to understand the underlying mechanisms of metal soap-related degradations in paints. In order to find viable solutions we need to join forces and set future goals. Selected publications (pdf)


The conference will bring together art historians, conservators and scientists to discuss conservation strategies, implications for appearance, as well as the analytical challenges.


Note: The Workshop Sessions on day 1 (15:30 – 17:00) and day 2 (15:00 – 17:00) are full. All new registrations will be offered an alternative programme for those time-slots. Alternative programme for day 1: Guided tours at the Rijksmuseum (Breitner; Highlights and 17th Century). Day 2: Guided tours at the Atelier Building.

The conference incorporates an innovative workshop during which conservators and art historians will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and observations with scientists who are in the process of making new discoveries on metal soap-related degradation and visa versa. The conference workshop will serve as a platform for discussion where future research objectives will be defined. The 2-day conference comprises presentations by invited speakers and poster sessions with pitches (1.5 days), followed by a workshop (0.5 day).

Please have a look at:

Conference topics

  • Occurrence in paintings and other objects;
  • Implications for appearance;
  • Multi-scale characterisation (micro- and macro);
  • Analytical strategies for identification;
  • Different types of metal soaps;
  • Chemical and physical properties of paint;
  • Metal oxalates as degradation;
  • Conservation treatments;
  • Influence of past treatment on formation;
  • Influence of climate on formation and stabilisation;
  • Dynamics and transport mechanisms;

Call for abstracts (deadline 1 november 2015)

Only posters with poster pitches: abstract submission is closed
Authors will be notified by 15 December 2015

Information for presenters

Invited speakers

  • Prof. dr. Aviva Burnstock, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
  • Em. Prof. dr. Jaap J. Boon, JAAP Enterprise for Art Scientific Studies, Amsterdam
  • Dr. Silvia Centeno, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
  • Drs. Joen Hermans, University of Amsterdam
  • Dr. Gillian Osmond, Queensland Art Gallery, Australia.
  • Dr. Costanza Miliani, CNR-ISTM, University of Perugia, Italy


We are aiming to publish the proceedings as a hard copy book printed by Springer.

Organizing Committee

  • Robert van Langh – Chair NICAS / Rijksmuseum
  • Francesca Casadio – Art Institute Chicago and Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts
  • Margriet van Eikema Hommes - Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and TUDelft
  • Katrien Keune - Rijksmuseum and University of Amsterdam
  • Annelies van Loon – University of Amsterdam and TUDelft
  • Petria Noble – Rijksmuseum

Scientific Committee

  • Silvia Centeno – Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Ella Hendriks - Van Gogh Museum
  • Gillian Osmond - Queensland Art Gallery
  • Marika Spring - National Gallery London
  • Klaas Jan Van den Berg – Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
  • Maartje Stols-Witlox – University of Amsterdam
  • Caroline Torkarski - University of Lille

Social program

Drinks and fingerfood in Cobra Café.





14-15 March 2016 conference and workshop


Registration is closed
We have reached the maximum capacity of our conference facilities. We can no longer accept new participants. Please send an e-mail to to be put on the waiting list.


Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1 Amsterdam