Microanalytical investigation of degradation issues in Byzantine wall paintings
- 311 Downloads
The St. Euthymius wall paintings, in the Cathedral of Thessaloniki, dated 1303 AD., are stylistically attributed to the School of Panselinos, one of the most important painters of Palaeologean Art.
An in situ non-invasive study has been carried out as part of a MOLAB project (a mobile laboratory accessible through the Eu-ARTECH project, funded by the EC 6th FP) combining different analytical techniques such as XRF, mid-FTIR and UV-vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. It was during this comprehensive in situ study that certain scientific queries were raised about sensitive areas, where indications of the phenomena of decay requested further attention. A subsequent laboratory study of selected cross-sections using microscopic analysis with μFTIR, SEM-EDS and μRaman, further confirmed the identification of only the atypical in situ observations.
The comparative interpretation of all respective results on the specific regions of interest permitted the identification of several degradation phenomena which justify certain aesthetic or stylistic incoherences in the representations. Namely, (i) thermal dehydration of the yellow ochre explaining the reddish appearance of the flesh tones and halos as an accidental effect of the fire; (ii) thermal degradation of azurite converted to tenorite explaining the atypical instance of dark lightings on the purple garments; (iii) degradation of red lead employed in the lightings of the red garments; (iv) widespread presence of oxalates in the paint surface.
KeywordsCupric Oxide Cinnabar Wall Painting Tenorite Green Earth
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.T. Gouma-Peterson, Art Bull. 58, 168 (1976)Google Scholar
- 3.S. Daniilia, S. Sotiropoulou, D. Bikiaris, C. Salpistis, G. Karagiannis, Y. Chryssoulakis, in: Non-Destructive Microanalysis of Cultural Heritage Materials, Volume XLII, ed. by K. Janssens, R. Van Grieken (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2004), p. 565Google Scholar
- 4.C. Miliani, F. Rosi, B.G. Brunetti, A. Sgamellotti, Appl. Spectrosc. 61, 3 (2006)Google Scholar
- 5.S. Daniilia, S. Sotiropoulou, G. Karagiannis, C. Salpistis, D. Bikiaris, in: Icon and Portrait Int. Conf., ICOM-CC-Wood, Furniture and Lacquer, 18–20 September 2006, King Maryut, Alexandria, Egypt, ed. by H. Hanna (2006), p. 126Google Scholar
- 8.E.W. Fitzhugh, in: Artists’ Pigments, ed. by R.L. Feller, vol. 1. (National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986), p. 109Google Scholar
- 9.R.L. Frost, P.A. Williams, Spectrosc. Acta A 60, 2071 (2004)Google Scholar
- 10.S. Aze, J.-M. Vallet, O. Grauby, In Procs. XIIIth ICOM Triennial Meeting, Rio de Janeiro, 22nd–28th September (2002), p. 549Google Scholar
- 11.O.-H. Barbu, D. Mohanu, in: Looking Forward to the Past: Science and Heritage, one day meeting at the Tate Modern, 28 November 2006, http://www.srs.ac.uk/scienceandheritage/Google Scholar
- 12.L. Bugio, R.J.H. Clark, S. Firth, The Analyst 126, 222 (2001)Google Scholar