Advertisement

Glittering on the Wall: Gildings on Greek Post-Byzantine Wall Paintings

  • Georgios P. MastrotheodorosEmail author
  • Dimitrios F. Anagnostopoulos
  • Konstantinos G. Beltsios
  • Eleni Filippaki
  • Yannis Bassiakos
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 962)

Abstract

Monumental painting flourished in Greek territories during the post-Byzantine period (1453 AD – early 19th century) despite the Ottoman dominance. Craftsmen working in this framework employed gilding in order to highlight specific pictorial elements (e.g. halos). Pertinent microsamples have been studied by means of several analytical techniques in the past, yet the relevant studies have mostly focused on the organic adhesives and, thus, the leaves themselves have been largely overlooked. The current study focuses on the investigation of the gold leaves, both in terms of micromorphology and composition. Samples from several post-Byzantine monuments of Epirus territory (NW Greece) were studied by employing techniques such as Optical Microscopy (OM), Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analyzer (SEM-EDX) and micro X-Ray Fluorescence (μ-XRF). A novel application of the latter technique allows for an estimation of the leaf thickness and pertinent data are compared with the results of the direct SEM thickness determination. Analytical data were evaluated in the light of a recent study that focused on the gildings of contemporary Greek portable paintings. It was thus established that post-Byzantine craftsmen were using the same gold leaves, regardless of the nature of the substrate (wall or panel). Moreover, the studied leaves turned to be of enhanced purity and reduced thickness in comparison to those found in contemporary Western European paintings.

Keywords

Gold leaf Gilding Mordant ΟΜ SEM-EDX μ-XRF 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was completed as a result of support from a Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) scholarship program; the work was co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund-ESF) and Greek national funds through the action entitled “Reinforcement of Postdoctoral Researchers”, in the framework of the Operational Program “Human Resources Development Program, Education and Lifelong Learning” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2014–2020 (grant number: 2016-050-0503-7689). Dr. V. Papadopoulou and Dr. K. Soueref, directors of the Arta and Ioannina Ephorates of Antiquities respectively, are sincerely thanked for their support. The personnel of the Ioannina Ephorate of Antiquities and especially the archaeologists P. Dimitrakopoulou, E. Katerini and D. Rapti, along with the conservation personnel are also thanked for their help during sampling. Special thanks are due to the General Directorate for the Restoration, Museums and Technical Works and the Directorate for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Antiquities (both divisions of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports) for sampling permissions.

References

  1. 1.
    Chatzidakis, M.: Greek painters after the fall of constantinople (1450–1830), (in Greek), vol. 1. Institute of Historical Research/National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens (1987)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ouspensky, L.: The Theology of icon in Orthodox Church, (in Greek). Transl. S. Marinis, Armos, Athens (1998)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nicholson, E.D.: The ancient craft of gold beating. Gold Bull. 12(4), 161–166 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Darque-Ceretti, E., Felder, E., Aucouturier, M.: Foil and leaf gilding on cultural artifacts; forming and adhesion. Rev. Matéria 16(1), 540–559 (2011)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Theophilus: On Divers Arts. Transl. J.G. Hawthorne and C.S. Smith, Dover, New York (1979)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cennini, C.: The Craftsman’s Handbook. Yale University Press, New Haven (1954). Transl. D.V. ThompsonGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bomford, D., Dunkerton, J., Gordon, D., Roy, A.: Art in the Making: Italian Painting Before 1400. National Gallery, London (1990)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mactaggard, P., Mactaggard, A.: Practical Gilding. Archetype, London (2005)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Dionysius of Fourna: The Hermeneia of the art of painting, (in Greek). Edited and published by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, Petersburg, 1909, reprinted by K. Spanos, Athens (1997)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Daniilia, S., Tsakalof, A., Bairachtari, K., Chryssoulakis, Y.: The Byzantine wall paintings from the Protaton Church on Mount Athos, Greece: tradition and science. J. Archaeol. Sci. 34, 1971–1984 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Iordanidis, A., Garcia-Guinea, J., Strati, A., Gkimourtzina, A.: A comparative study of pigments from the wall paintings of two Greek Byzantine churches. Anal. Lett. 47, 2708–2721 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cheilakou, E., Troullinos, M., Koui, M.: Identification of pigments on Byzantine wall paintings from Crete (14th century AD) using non-invasive Fiber Optics Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy (FORS). J. Archaeol. Sci. 41, 541–555 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mastrotheodoros, G.P., Beltsios, K.G., Bassiakos, Y., Papadopoulou, V.: On the metal-leaf decorations of post-byzantine Greek icons. Archaeometry 60(2), 269–289 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Katsibiri, O., Boon, J.: Investigation of the gilding techniques in two post-Byzantine wall paintings using micro-analytical techniques. Spectrochim. Acta Part B 59, 1593–1599 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Katsibiri, O., Howe, R.F.: Microscopic, mass spectrometric and spectroscopic characterization of the mordants used for gilding on wall paintings from three post-Byzantine monasteries in Thessalia, Greece. Microchem. J. 94, 83–89 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Acheimastou-Potamianou, M.: The Filanthropinon Monastery and the first phase of the Post-Byzantine Painting (in Greek), Second edition, Archaeologicon Deltion 31, Fund of Archaeological Proceeds, Athens (1995)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sandu, I.C.A., et al.: A comparative interdisciplinary study of gilding techniques and materials in two Portuguese Baroque ‘talha dourada’ complexes. Estudos de conservação e restauro 4, 47–71 (2012)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bidarra, A., Coroado, J., Rocha, F.: Gold leaf analysis of three baroque altarpieces from Porto. ArcheoSciences 33, 417–421 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Schoonjans, T., et al.: A general Monte Carlo simulation of energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometers—part 5: polarized radiation, stratified samples, cascade effects, M-lines. Spectrochim. Acta Part B At. Spectrosc. 70, 10–23 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Nanoscience and NanotechnologyNCSR ‘Demokritos’AttikiGreece
  2. 2.Materials Science and Engineering DepartmentUniversity of IoanninaIoanninaGreece

Personalised recommendations