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Title: The wall paintings of the crypt of the medieval Church of Saint Andrew in Viterbo (Italy): technical examination and state of preservation
Authors: Castro, Fabio
Falcucci, Claudio
Pelosi, Claudia
Keywords: medieval wall paintings;conservation;diagnostics;non destructive anlysis
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: A. Ferrari Ed., Rome
Source: F. Castro, C. Falcucci, C. Pelosi, The wall paintings of the crypt of the medieval Church of Saint Andrew in Viterbo (Italy): technical examination and state of preservation, Proceedings of the 4th International Congress on “Science and Technology for the Safeguard of Cultural Heritage in the Mediterranean Basin”, 6-8 December 2009, Il Cairo (Egypt), A. Ferrari Ed., Rome, 2010, Vol.II, pp. 103-111.
The wall paintings of the crypt of the church of Saint Andrew in Viterbo (Italy) date back to the 13th century. The bad state of preservation and the lack of many areas of the scenes make difficult a clear interpretation of the paintings and therefore a precise historical placing inside the 13th century. Besides an extensive analysis of the execution techniques and of the constitutive materials has never been undertaken. So the aim of this research has been to characterize the constitutive materials and the execution techniques of the wall paintings in order to provide a valid aid to the historical and artistic interpretation of the iconography and to evaluate the state of preservation of the paintings related to the environment. The wall paintings have been studied by means of non invasive methodologies of analysis and through laboratory techniques. The in situ investigations have been carried out by ultraviolet (UV) fluorescence and false colour infrared (IRC) photography, reflectance spectrophotometry, video microscope acquisitions, XRF spectrometry. These preliminary investigations have been useful to chose the sampling points for the laboratory analysis. The micro samples were examined through FTIR spectrometry and polarizing microscope observation of the pigment powders and of the cross sections. The pigments employed for the wall paintings are: red and yellow ochre, calcium carbonate white, lead based pigments probable red lead, green earth, vegetable black. They have been applied by a lime technique. The photographic campaign and the technical examination of the wall paintings also put in evidence the presence of surface damages. In particular, the abundant superficial salt deposits are the result of the use of unsuitable restorations materials in previous interventions. The environmental conditions (temperature and relative humidity) were registered by means of a digital data logger. During the months of October, November, and December 2009 the RH% values exhibit high average values, from 71 to 83%. The lowest RH% value (43%) has been registered on the fifteen of October, the highest one (86%) has been measured on the thirty-one of December. We believe that this study to be necessary for the future preservation and conservation of these interesting medieval wall paintings.
ISBN: 978-88-96680-32-2
Rights: If not otherwise stated, this document is distributed by the Tuscia University Open Archive under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution - Noncommercial - Noderivs License (
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