Red lake pigments and dyes used in works of art were characterized by microspectrofluorimetry, a new tool in the field of cultural heritage. Emission and excitation spectra were obtained with high spatial resolution (8-30 mu m) in cross-sections from paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Lucien Pissarro and from millenary Andean textiles. The fluorophores were identified by comparing their spectra with those from historic reconstructions assembled in a database. In the paints, purpurin and eosin lakes were detected. In the Paracas and Nasca textiles, dated from 200 B.C. to A.D. 1476, purpurin and pseudopurpurin were the red dyes used. Carminic acid was detected in textiles dated close to the Inca Empire, A.D. 1000-1476. The results obtained with this new technique were confirmed and are in agreement with those obtained with conventional methods, requiring microsampling, such as HPLC-DAD-MS and SEM-EDX. (C) 2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.