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Dr Paola Ricciardi

Research Scientist

Dr Paola Ricciardi is the Fitzwilliam Museum's Research Scientist. She is responsible for the scientific aspects of the MINIARE research project, which uses a cross-disciplinary approach to study medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts. She is also engaged in research on other types of objects such as medieval polychrome wood sculptures, early Modern portrait miniatures, and 18th century ceramics and glass. Paola has co-authored over 30 refereed papers and book chapters, and recently finished co-editing the two-volume proceedings of the ‘Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science’ conference (Cambridge, 2016). She has lectured widely at scholarly conferences and study days, and given numerous public talks for general audiences in Cambridge. She holds a PhD in Cultural Heritage Science from the University of Florence (2008) and a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Rome (2003). Before joining the Fitzwilliam Museum in October 2011, she spent three years at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC as the Samuel H. Kress post-doctoral Fellow in Imaging Science. She is a member of ICOM (International Council of Museums), ICON (The Institute of Conservation) and AIAr (Italian Association for Archaeometry), and regularly acts as reviewer for several scientific publications.


Research Interests

Paola's main research interests include the technical analysis of cultural heritage objects, particularly with non-invasive analytical methods; the study of artists’ materials and techniques; and the transfer of knowledge between artists and craftsmen working in different media. She is keen to find new ways to communicate her scholarly activities to ever broader audiences; in 2014, she co-wrote and produced a short film for the ‘Cambridge Shorts’ initiative (‘The Colourful Page’). She also helped design and produce content for the online research resource ‘ILLUMINATED: Manuscripts in the Making’, launched in July 2016.


Recent/Major Publications

Edited volumes

- S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi (eds.), Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science, 2 vols., Harvey Miller/Brepols, London and Turnhout, 2017-2018


Refereed papers in primary journals

- L. Nodari and P. Ricciardi, Non-invasive identification of paint binders in illuminated manuscripts by ER-FTIR spectroscopy: a systematic study of the influence of different pigments on the binders’ characteristic spectral features, Heritage Science 7 (2019), forthcoming

- S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi, Painting the Trinity Hrabanus: Materials, Techniques and Methods of Production, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society Vol. XVI/part 2vol. 1, 2017 (published 2018), 227-261 

- S. Legrand, P. Ricciardi, L. Nodari, K. Janssens, Non-invasive analysis of a 15th century illuminated manuscript fragment: point-based vs imaging spectroscopy, Microchemical Journal 138 (2018), 162-172,

- L. Calatroni, M. d’Autume, R. Hocking, S. Panayotova, S. Parisotto, P. Ricciardi and C.-B. Schönlieb, Unveiling the invisible: mathematical methods for restoring and interpreting illuminated manuscripts, Heritage Science 6 (2018), p. 56 (with additional images available online at

- J. K. Delaney, P. Ricciardi, L. Glinsman, M. Palmer, J. Burke, Use of near infrared reflectance imaging spectroscopy to map wool and silk fibres in historic tapestries, Analytical Methods 8 (2016), 7886-7890,

- P. Ricciardi, S. Legrand, G. Bertolotti, K. Janssens, Macro X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) scanning of illuminated manuscript fragments: potentialities and challenges, Microchemical Journal 124 (2016), 785-791,

- A. Pallipurath, J. M. Skelton, P. Ricciardi, S. R. Elliott, Estimation of semiconductor-like pigment concentrations in paint mixtures and their differentiation from paint layers using first-derivative reflectance spectra, Talanta 154 (2016), 63-72,

- J. K. Delaney, M. Thoury, J. G. Zeibel, P. Ricciardi, K. M. Morales, K. A. Dooley, Visible and infrared imaging spectroscopy of paintings and improved reflectography, Heritage Science 4 (2016), 6,

- C. Anselmi, P. Ricciardi, D. Buti, A. Romani, P. Moretti, K. Rose Beers, B. G. Brunetti, C. Miliani, A. Sgamellotti, MOLAB® meets Persia: non-invasive study of a sixteenth-century illuminated manuscript, Studies in Conservation 60/S1 (2015), S185-S192,

- J. K. Delaney, P. Ricciardi, L. D. Glinsman, M. Facini, M. Thoury, M. Palmer, E. R. de la Rie, Use of imaging spectroscopy, fibre optic reflectance spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence to map and identify pigments in illuminated manuscripts, Stud. Conserv. 59(2) (2014),

- M. Aceto, A. Agostino, G. Fenoglio, A. Idone, M. Gulmini, M. Picollo, P. Ricciardi, J. K. Delaney, Characterisation of colourants on illuminated manuscripts by portable fibre optic UV-visible-NIR reflectance spectrophotometry, Anal. Methods 6 (2014), 1488-1500,

- P. Ricciardi, A. Pallipurath, K. Rose, ‘It’s not easy being green’: a spectroscopic study of green pigments used in illuminated manuscripts, Anal. Methods 5 (2013), 3819-3824,  

- P. Ricciardi, J. K. Delaney, M. Facini, L. Glinsman, Use of imaging spectroscopy and in situ analytical methods for the characterization of the materials and techniques of 15th century illuminated manuscripts, J. Am. Inst. Conserv. 52(1) (2013), 13-29

- K. Dooley, S. Lomax, J. Zeibel, C. Miliani, P. Ricciardi, A. Hoenigswald, M. Loew, J. K. Delaney, Mapping of Egg Yolk and Animal Skin Glue Paint Binders in Early Renaissance Paintings Using Near Infrared Reflectance Imaging Spectroscopy, Analyst 138 (2013), 4838-4848,

- P. Ricciardi, J. K. Delaney, M. Facini, J. G. Zeibel, M. Picollo, S. Lomax, M. Loew, Near infrared reflectance imaging spectroscopy to map paint binders in situ on illuminated manuscripts, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 51 (2012), 5607-5610,

- P. Ricciardi, Ph. Colomban, A. Tournié, V. Milande, Non-destructive on-site identification of ancient glasses: genuine artefacts, embellished pieces or forgeries?, J. Raman Spectrosc. 40 (2009), 604-617,

- P. Ricciardi, Ph. Colomban, A. Tournié, M. Macchiarola, N. Ayed, A non-invasive study of Roman Age mosaic glass tesserae by means of Raman spectroscopy, J. Arch. Sci36 (2009), 2551-2559,

- P. Ricciardi, Ph. Colomban, V. Milande, Non-destructive Raman characterization of Capodimonte and Buen Retiro porcelain, J. Raman Spectrosc39 (2008), 1113-1119,

- P. Ricciardi, L. Nodari, S. Gualtieri, D. De Simone, B. Fabbri, U. Russo, Firing techniques of black slipped pottery from Nepal (12th-3rd century B.C.): the role of Mössbauer spectroscopy, J. Cult. Herit. 9 (2008), 261-268,

- G. E. Gigante, S. Ridolfi, P. Ricciardi, Areas and limits of employment of portable EDXRF equipment for in situ investigations, ArcheoSciences – Revue d’Archeometrie 29 (2005), 51-60 (available online)


Contributions to symposia and compiled volumes (refereed* or otherwise)

- S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi, The Artists, in The Breslau Psalter. MS 36-1950, Cambridge, The Fitzwilliam Museum. Commentary to the Facsimile Edition, Quaternio Verlag Luzern, 2018, 255-268

- P. Ricciardi, Appendix II. Technical Analyses, in The Breslau Psalter. MS 36-1950, Cambridge, The Fitzwilliam Museum. Commentary to the Facsimile Edition, Quaternio Verlag Luzern, 2018, 291-293

- G. Bertolotti and P. Ricciardi, The Use of Copper Sulphates in Sixteenth-Century Flemish Illumination: Simon Bening as a Case Study, in S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi (eds.), Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science vol. 2, Harvey Miller/Brepols, London and Turnhout, 2018, 118-131

- S. Legrand, P. Ricciardi and K. Janssens, The Benefits of Scanning Illuminated Manuscripts with MA-XRF and MA-rFTIR, in S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi (eds.), Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science vol. 2, Harvey Miller/Brepols, London and Turnhout, 2018, 169-181

- S. Panayotova, L. Pereira Pardo and P. Ricciardi, Illuminators’ materials and techniques in fourteenth-century English manuscripts, in S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi (eds.), Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science vol. 1, Harvey Miller/Brepols, London and Turnhout, 2017, 46-63

- P. Ricciardi and S. Panayotova, Painting materials in the Fitzwilliam Book of Hours: new discoveries, in S. Panayotova and P. Ricciardi (eds.), Manuscripts in the Making: Art and Science vol. 1, Harvey Miller/Brepols, London and Turnhout, 2017, 144-155

- *P. Ricciardi and S. Panayotova, A holistic, noninvasive approach to the technical study of manuscripts. The case of the Breslau Psalter, in A. Nevin and T. Doherty (eds.), The noninvasive analysis of painted surfaces: scientific impact and conservation practice, Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington DC, 2016, 25-36

- S. Panayotova (ed.). COLOUR. The art and science of illuminated manuscripts, Harvey Miller/Brepols, London, 2016, wrote technical appendix and co-authored two essays and twenty-four entries for the printed catalogue: essays 2 and 7, cat. nos. 1, 4-8, 11, 13, 15, 19, 26-30, 33-36, 90, 96, 97, 102, 105.

- P. Ricciardi and A. Pallipurath, The five colours of art: non-invasive analysis of pigments in Tibetan prints and manuscripts, in H. Diemberger, F.-K. Ehrhard and P. Kornicki (eds.), Tibetan Printing: Comparison, Continuities and Change, Brill, Leiden and Boston, 2016, 485-500

- P. Ricciardi and A. Pallipurath, Colours, in M. Elliott, H. Diemberger and M. Clemente (eds.), Buddha's Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, 2014, 103-104

- *P. Ricciardi, M. Facini, J. K. Delaney, Painting and illumination in early Renaissance Florence: the techniques of Lorenzo Monaco and his workshop, in D. Saunders, M. Spring and A. Meek (eds.), The Renaissance Workshop, Archetype Publications, London, 2013, ISBN: 9781904982937, 1-9

- *P. Ricciardi and Ph. Colomban, Raman spectroscopy of ceramics and glasses, in J. M. Chalmers, H. G. M. Edwards and M. D. Hargreaves (eds.), Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy in Forensic Science, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2012, ISBN: 9780470749067, 417-426,

- *P. Ricciardi, F. Amato, Ph. Colomban, Raman spectroscopy as a tool for the non-destructive characterization of slips and glazes of a “sgraffito” Renaissance production, in K. T. Biró, V. Szilagyi and A. Kreiter (eds.), Vessels: Inside and OutsideProceedings of EMAC’07, Hungarian National Museum, Budapest, 2009, 217-222, ISBN 9789637061677

- *P. Ricciardi, L. Nodari, B. Fabbri, S. Gualtieri, U. Russo, Contribution for a mineralogical thermometer to be applied to low fired and/or non-carbonate ceramics, in S. Y. Waksman (ed.), Archaeometric and Archaeological Approaches to CeramicsProceedings of EMAC’05, Archaeopress, London, 2007, 13-18, ISBN 9781407301297

- *G. E. Gigante, S. Ridolfi, M. Colapietro, P. Ricciardi, Quantitative analysis of ancient metal artefacts by means of FP-EDXRF spectrometers: a critical review, in R Van Grieken and K. Janssens (eds.), Cultural Heritage Conservation and Environmental Impact Assessment by Non-Destructive Testing and Micro-Analysis, 2005, Taylor & Francis Group, London, 1-10, ISBN 9789058096814


Digital resources

- P. Ricciardi and J.K. Delaney, Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging of artworks, in S.L. López Varela (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences, Wiley Online Library, 2018,

- C. Slottved Kimbriel and P. Ricciardi, A closer look at the cabinet miniature of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, National Trust Collections website, 29 May 2018,

ILLUMINATED: manuscripts in the making, research and teaching resource co-authored with S. Panayotova and D. Jackson, 2016,