Technique and palette of XIIIth century painting in the monastery of Mileseva
The monastery of Mileseva is one of the most important Serbian spiritual centers, and being a Romanesque type building, is nowadays mainly known for its frescoes. The first group of frescoes were produced in the 1230s. In the second half of the sixteenth century, the church was repainted with a new layer of frescoes of which only fragments have survived. These frescoes were damaged in a fire, but they happened to save (acting as a protective layer) the earlier and more valuable paintings from the thirteenth century. The fresco examined in the present study is in the southern part of the area under the dome and belongs to the XIII century fresco. The materials and techniques used for church iconography were determined by means of several micro-analytical techniques. The strong presence of the characteristic peaks of calcite (1407, 872 cm-1), in all FTIR spectra obtained from the substrate, as well as from painted layers confirms the use of the fresco technique for the construction of the wall painting. The combination of FTIR micro-spectroscopy and SEM-EDS elemental microanalysis revealed the existence of lapis lazuli in blue colours and green earth (celadonite) in green colours. In a sample taken from an angel halo, three different layers were found. With SEM-EDS elemental microanalysis it was verified that the first is a metallic layer of thickness 10–12 μm containing pure silver, while the third (2–3 μm) is gold. As was found by FTIR spectra animal glue was used to stick gold on the silver surface. The method of occurrence of the first and thicker silver sheets is still a puzzle, and we believe that it was applied from the beginning in the hagiography and then covered by the gold sheet for aesthetic reasons.
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