Abstract

The cross-section stratifications of samples, which were removed from six icons, are studied using optical microscopy, micro-Raman spectroscopy, and micro-Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. The icons, dated from the 14th to 19th centuries, are prominent examples of Byzantine painting art and are attributed to different artistic workshops of northern Greece. The following materials are identified in the cross-sections of the icon samples using micro-Raman spectroscopy: anhydrite; calcite; carbon black; chrome yellow; cinnabar; gypsum; lead white; minium; orpiment; Prussian blue; red ochre; yellow ochre; and a paint of organic origin which can be either indigo (Indigofera tinctoria L. and others) or woad (Isatis tinctoria L.). The same samples are investigated using micro-FT-IR which leads to the following identifications: calcite; calcium oxalates; chrome yellow; gypsum; kaolinite; lead carboxylates; lead sulfate (or quartz); lead white; oil; protein; Prussian blue; saponified oil; shellac; silica; and tree resin. The study of the cross-sections of the icon samples reveals the combinations of the aforementioned inorganic and organic materials. Although the icons span over a long period of six centuries, the same stratification comprising gypsum ground layer, paint layers prepared by modified. “egg tempera” techniques (proteinaceous materials mixed with oil and resins), and varnish layer is revealed in the investigated samples. Moreover, the presence of three layers of varnishes, one at the top and other two as intermediate layers, in the cross-section analysis of a sample from Virgin and Child provide evidence of later interventions.

© 2018 The Author(s)

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