Applied Physics A

, Volume 83, Issue 4, pp 709–717 | Cite as

Onoufrios, the famous XVI’s century iconographer, creator of the “Berati School”: studying the technique and materials used in wall paintings of inscribed churches

  • E. Pavlidou
  • M. Arapi
  • T. Zorba
  • M. Anastasiou
  • N. Civici
  • F. Stamati
  • K.M. ParaskevopoulosEmail author


The study of the materials and techniques employed for wall painting, complementing the information from historical and aesthetic data, contributes to the integrated knowledge of the iconographer and his period. In the 16th century, regarding the iconography in the former Byzantine area, besides the School of Crete and Francos Catelanos and his school, a third artistic personality who also created his own school, Onoufrios, appeared in central Albania and expanded his activity as a painter to northern Greece as well as nearby areas, such as Ohrid. Inscriptions documenting the works of Onoufrios are found in some of the churches that he decorated with wall paintings: “St. Apostles” (1547) Kastoria Greece, “St. Nicolas” Shelcan Albania, “St. Paraskevi” (1554), Valsh Albania, while are attributed to him the church of “St. Theodores” in Berati, Albania (before 1547) and others. He is one of the best icon painters of the whole Balkan region, and the best painter that has ever worked in Albanian territory. Onoufrios managed to combine the local painting tradition with the best tradition of the eastern (Paleologian) and western (Italian) schools, resulting in a realistic and natural depiction. He is the creator of the “Berati School” that expanded to other parts of the peninsula. His individual character can be distinguished in the work of his students: his son Nikolaos (who inherited his style in painting), Onoufrios from Cyprus, etc. Based on careful observations, we extracted number of paint samples from wall paintings of three of the above mentioned churches. Ground and paint layers were examined using micro-FTIR, Optical Microscopy, TXRF and SEM-EDS, to characterize materials and methods used by the artist to create these works. Our findings in each church are discussed and compared with the others in order to understand how and with what material and resources the painter worked and how he developed his technique. The presence of calcium carbonate as the main component in all FTIR measurements points to a fresco technique. Pigments like red and yellow ochre, carbon black, green earth, calcium carbonate are used in all cases. The use of gypsum in the plaster construction is characteristic. The deterioration of the wall paintings due to environmental effects – different in every church – is also examined.


Calcite Gypsum Calcium Oxalate Cinnabar Wall Painting 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Pavlidou
    • 1
  • M. Arapi
    • 2
  • T. Zorba
    • 1
  • M. Anastasiou
    • 1
  • N. Civici
    • 3
  • F. Stamati
    • 4
  • K.M. Paraskevopoulos
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Physics Dept.Aristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Institute of Monuments of CultureTiranaAlbania
  3. 3.Institute of Nuclear PhysicsTiranaAlbania
  4. 4.Institute of Popular CultureTiranaAlbania

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