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Painting Reconstruction Historical Materials/Techniques

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Aromatic AdditivesAromatic Additives<p><strong>Benzoin </strong>– This gum resin is obtained from the Stryax benzoin tree that grows in and around Thailand.  Benzoin is known mostly for its sweet odor that is reminiscent of vanilla and has been used as an additive to varnishes and glazes.  Benzoin was occasionally used as a plasticizer in spirit varnishes by artists and was recently identified in a painting by Charles-François Daubigny.</p><p><strong>Camphor</strong> – Athough not a resin, this pungent oil is collected from trees that are native to Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Southern Europe though today it is also chemically synthesized.  Camphor is mostly comprised of isoprenoids and is known for its medicinal properties (though in large quantities it is considered to be toxic) and has been used as an ingredient in embalming procedures and in cooking.  Many varnish and paint recipes call for camphor as it can serve as an effective plasticizer though in some counrties it is also used to remove paint/varnish.</p><p><strong>Frankincense</strong> - Frankincense, also referred to as olibanum, is obtained from trees that are native to Egypt and its surrounding countries.  It contains a large portion of resin (soluble in alcohol) and a smaller portion of gum (soluble in water).  Used since ancient times for its pungent aroma, it is still used as an additive to varnishes, especially for wooden objects.</p><p><strong>Galbanum</strong> – This gum resin is harvested from plants that are native to Iran and gives off a bitter, woody scent.  A mixture of resins, terpenes, and carbohydrates it was used as incense by the Egyptians and Greeks and was also thought to possess medicinal properties. </p><p><strong>Myrrh</strong> – Myrrh is harvested from trees that are found in Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia.  Like Frankincense it contains both water-soluble and alcohol-soluble portions.  Myrrh has been prized for centuries for its aromatic properties and can be added to varnish recipes.​</p>A summary of various aromatic additives used in art materials and techniques including benzoin, camphor, frankincense, galbanum, and myrrh.

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