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Gil M.,University of Évora | Gil M.,University of Lisbon | Araujo C.,University of Évora | Carvalho M.L.,University of Évora | And 9 more authors.
X-Ray Spectrometry | Year: 2013

This article describes a study carried out on the emblematic mural painting so-called 'fresco of the good and bad judge' located at the medieval village of Monsaraz (southern Portugal). This painting, with two distintic narratives, is thematically unique in Portugal and rare in the context of European Renaissance art. Scientific research was undertaken to clarify doubts about the chronology of the two painted scenes through a technical study and a material characterization of its constituents, namely, mortars, pigments, and binders. Elemental and chemical analyses were performed by scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy detector, optic microscopy, μ-Raman spectroscopy and Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy. Comparative examination revealed that along with the stylistic similarities, there are no recognizable differences in the painting technique (garments and carnations) nor in the structure and composition of the pictorial support and chromatic layers. The mortars of both scenes are made of lime with different ratios of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) mixed with siliceous and granitic aggregates. An intonachino made with a more calcitic lime is visible in all carnations. The pigments identified in both scenes were mercury sulfide (HgS), red and yellow ochres (Fe2O3 and FeO(OH) as chromophores), carbon black (C) and azurite (2CuCO3.Cu(OH)2). The extensive areas of chromatic losses seem to indicate that a mixed pictorial technique was used by the artist (fresco and secco). © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Gil M.,University of Évora | Gil M.,University of Lisbon | Rosado T.,University of Évora | Ribeiro I.,Jose Of Figueiredo Conservation And Restoration Laboratory | And 8 more authors.
X-Ray Spectrometry | Year: 2015

The present paper describes the characterization and comparative study carried out on the 16th century murals of Casas Pintadas of the so-called Vasco da Gama House in the town of Évora, Southern Portugal. Even today, the two existing paintings in the porch vaulted cloister raise many questions about the pictorial techniques and materials that were used. The most adopted theory is that the upper register inspired in medieval bestiary was made with a secco technique, while the lower grotteschi frieze was achieved with a fresco technique. A multianalytical research was carried out in situ and in laboratory in order to attest this hypothesis and to characterize the paintings materials. Surface examination was made with normal and racking light complemented with in situ spectrophotometry in the visible, with stratigraphic and analytical study of microsamples by optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM-EDS). The results show similarities in the structure and elemental composition of both paintings mortars and pigments. The mortars' inner layers (the intonaci) were made with siliceous sands mixed with a dolomitic lime-based plaster (CaMg(CO3)2). On top of it, one to three thin layers of lime wash were applied. In SEM-EDS elemental maps, all the pigments at the cross-sections are embedded in a calcium carbonate matrice, and several nails marks are visible in situ with racking light in both paintings indicating a fresco technique. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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