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Non-destructive analysis of canvas paintings in the Archbishop's palace of Seville

AuthorsKrižnar, Anabelle ; Laclavetine, K.; Gamero González, A. I.; Respaldiza, M. A.
Issue Date2016
Citation6th Meeting X-ray and other techniques in investigations of the objects of cultural heritage (2016)
AbstractThe Archbishop’s Palace holds one of the richest art collections of Seville, composed of nearly 300 paintings. Several of these artworks require urgent restorative intervention, as recently supported by analytical research on the materials applied and the damage sustained. Among the first artworks selected for this interdisciplinary approach were two paintings on canvas by two of Seville’s most important painters of the 17th and 18th centuries: The Presentation of the Virgin (1680‒90) by Matías de Arteaga, and Christ Crucified (1778‒81) by Juan de Espinal. The principal objectives of the analysis were to obtain information on the painting and preparation materials used and to discern later interventions to the original parts in order to assist the restoration process. For both works the same procedure was selected in which only non-destructive techniques were used. First, general and detailed images were taken in visible and UV light before and after the cleaning of the surface, in order to observe the condition of the paintings. Then, infrared reflectography (IRR) was used to discover possible underdrawings. As the last step, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) was applied to identify the pigments and preparation used. UV images discovered wide areas of later interventions, the number and size of which decreased significantly after the surface had been cleaned. The IRR images highlighted certain other interventions, not visible under the UV light, and showed several pentimenti. The results obtained by XRF revealed that both painters used a calcium-based preparation (identified by Ca peaks), probably gypsum, which was typical of Spanish painting of the time. Arteaga also added some ochre (Fe) to obtain a darker preparation suitable for faster colour modelling. The pigments applied were characteristic of the 17th and 18th centuries, and both painters applied the same pigments, with the exception that Arteaga’s palette was wider due to the more colourful Visitation. The results were helpful at the last step of the reintegration of the painting layers. Christ Crucified represented a special restoration challenge, because it was necessary to recreate Christ’s hands, a task carried out magnificently by the restorer. Further interventions and non-destructive analyses of paintings in the Archbishop’s Palace are being scheduled in the near future.
DescriptionResumen del trabajo presentado al 6th Meeting X-ray and other techniques in investigations of the objects of cultural heritage, celebrado en Krakow (Polonia) del 18 al 21 de mayo de 2016.
Appears in Collections:(CNA) Comunicaciones congresos
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