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Cambridge, United Kingdom

This article describes the investigation and re-conservation of an ancient Greek ceramic sarcophagus (GR.7.1902) in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The sarcophagus is made from coarse orange ceramic decorated using the black-figure technique on a white ground. It had been restored twice since acquisition in 1902 and, by 2008, these repairs were weak, failing and unsightly. Using techniques adapted from organics conservation, twists of acrylic-coated Japanese tissue were inserted into gaps then reactivated with acetone. The paper is strong, flexible and easily removable and even narrow, deep cavities can be supported. Fills were surfaced with Fine Surface Polyfilla. Fills on the decorated upper surface were covered with Japanese tissue and painted using adapted 'visible retouching' techniques. The fills can be distinguished easily but give an overall effect of total visual reintegration. The sarcophagus was mounted on a moveable showcase base that facilitated safe handling, moving and installation. Source

Aceto M.,University of Piemonte Orientale | Agostino A.,University of Turin | Fenoglio G.,University of Turin | Idone A.,University of Piemonte Orientale | And 6 more authors.
Analytical Methods

The use of ultraviolet and visible diffuse reflectance spectrophotometry as a preliminary technique in the investigation of illuminated manuscripts is discussed. Because ancient manuscripts are amongst the most fragile and precious artworks, characterisation of the materials used in their decoration should be performed using non-invasive analytical methods. Ultraviolet and visible reflectance spectrophotometry with optical fibres (FORS) allows non-invasive identification of several colourants used by ancient illuminators, causing no damage or mechanical stress to the artworks subjected to analysis. Identification is usually based on the comparison of analytical data with a spectral database built from painted areas on parchment, created by preparing paints according to ancient recipes as described in medieval technical treatises. Such database and the spectral features of the colourants analysed are discussed, along with the benefits of extending the spectral range of analysis into the shortwave infrared (to 2500 nm). FORS can be best appreciated as a rapid preliminary tool that offers an overview on the main colourants employed and guides the selection of painted areas of manuscripts on which more selective techniques, such as X-ray fluorescence or Raman spectroscopy, can be employed for a more complete and accurate identification. © 2014 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Source

Ricciardi P.,Fitzwilliam Museum | Pallipurath A.,University of Cambridge | Rose K.,Fitzwilliam Museum
Analytical Methods

This study explores the use of green pigments and mixtures in manuscript illumination, drawing upon experimental evidence derived from a non-invasive spectroscopic survey of green pigments used in 31 bound manuscripts and 23 manuscript cuttings or single folios in the collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK. Analytical investigations were carried out on green-coloured areas by visible and near-infrared fibre optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS), at times supplemented by X-ray fluorescence (XRF). FORS spectra can easily be acquired in great numbers and without subjecting the manuscripts to any physical strain, making this technique especially suitable for analytical surveys of valuable and fragile objects. Despite some drawbacks, its use in combination with XRF often provides a relatively complete characterisation of pigments and mixtures, particularly when FORS analysis is extended into the shortwave-infrared range (to 2500 nm). The experimental results are examined in light of the recipes for green pigments found in medieval technical treatises. The outcome is a contextualized study with a focus on French illumination between the 13th and the 16th century, but allowing for comparisons with contemporary materials of different geographic origin. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Source

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