Dr Austin Nevin, FIIC

Head of Conservation

I am the Head of the Department of Conservation, that unites Easel Painting and Wall Painting Conservation with transdisplinary research on preventive conservation, technical art history, conservation science and conservation practice. My research focuses on the conservation and analysis of paintings, ancient and modern art on walls, easels and on paper and ranges from Chinese wall paintings to the analysis of Egyptian Polychromy and the analysis of red pigments from Leonardo´s The Last Supper. Recent research also identified egg binders in wall paintings from Tel Kabri, the second oldest example of organic binding media in western paintings.

I am a conservator and conservation scientist. Prior to joining The Courtauld I coordinated the MA degree in conservation at the University of Gothenburg and taught at the Accademia di Brera in Milan. Between 2011-2019 I was a Researcher at the Istituto di Fotonica e Nanotecnologie (IFN) in Milan, part of the Italian National Research Council. I completed post doctoral research at the Department of Physics at the Politecnico di Milano on applications of time resolved fluorescence spectroscopy to cultural heritage, and at The Courtauld as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, where I led the Master of the Fogg Pietà Project. Between 2004-2007 I was a Marie Curie Early Stage Research Fellow at the Foundation for Research and Technology (IESL-FORTH) in Greece.

Following a degree in Chemistry from the University of Oxford (2001), I obtained an MA in the Conservation of Wall Painting (2004) and a PhD at The Courtauld (2008). My training at The Courtauld has been the foundation for my vision that is inclusive and international, and based on shared values, scientific research and conservation practice.

I am a Vice President and Fellow of the International Institute for the Conservation of Artistic and Historic Works and have chaired the Technical Committees for the Edinburgh (2020), Turin (2018), Los Angeles (2016) and Hong Kong (2014) Congresses. I also served as the Coordinator of the Scientific Research working group of ICOM-CC from 2011-2014, and currently am on the Conseil Scientifique of the La Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société Sud-Est (France). I am an Editor of Studies in Conservation and of the Springer Series Cultural Heritage Science

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

  • Conservation and heritage Science: applications of spectroscopy for the analysis of molecular materials in paintings and tracking degradation of pigments and polymers, from kermes lakes in Italian wall paintings to cadmium sulphide degradation in modern art
  • Pigment synthesis and chemistry: historical recipes and trace impurities
  • Digital humanities: linking conservation documentation and results from technical analysis for interdisciplinary research, from dispersed altarpieces to comparative technical study
  • Conservation practice: critical assessment of wall painting conservation in Sweden (funded by the Swedish National Heritage Board)

PhD Supervision

Current supervision

Y. Hahn, Buddhist Temple Wall Paintings in South Korea: a Conservation Assessment, supervised with Anthony Eastmond

A. Källbom, Painting Treatments of Weather Exposed Ferrous Heritage. Guidance Principles and Working Procedures Considering Material Characteristics and Craft Skills of Linseed Oils and Paints supervised with Gunnar Almevik and Maria Brunskog University of Gothenburg

E. Angelin, The fate of colours in 20th-21st centuries: preserving the organic colorants in plastic artefacts (provisional title) supervised with Maria Joao Melo and Marcello Piccolo, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

R. De Angelis, The Technology of Baroque Oil-Based Wall Paintings in Malta: Materials and Implications for Conservation supervised with JoAnn Cassar, Univeristy of Malta

J. Porter, Organic materials in wall paintings: cultural practice, analysis and deterioration (provisional title) co-supervised with JoAnn Cassar, University of Malta

Major Grants

Recent Publications

Publications in preparation

  • Forensic Science for Paintings: How to Investigate Paintings and Detect Forgeries, edited by I. Degano, A. Nevin and M. P. Colombini, Springer Cultural Heritage Science Series, 2021
  • Molecular Luminescence in Cultural Heritage, edited by M. J. Melo, A. Romani, D. Comelli and A. Nevin, Springer Series on Fluorescence, 2022
  • Analysis of Paints and Binding Media, Chapter in Conservation Science: Heritage Materials 2nd Edition, edited by P. Garside and E. Richardson, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021

Editorial boards

Studies in Conservation, Springer Cultural Heritage Science