Art casting in Portuguese 19th century industrial foundries: a multi-analytical study of an emblematic copper-based alloy monument

Pablo General-Toro, Rui Bordalo, Patrícia Raquel Moreira, Eduarda Vieira, Antonio Brunetti, Roberta Iannaccone, Carlo Bottaini*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

The outdoor sculpture of the first Portuguese king, D. Afonso Henriques (c. 1109–1185 AD), placed in Guimarães (North Portugal), is one of the most emblematic national sculptures. Created in 1887 by António Soares dos Reis, it possesses a remarkable symbolic value in the presumed birthplace of the king. In addition to the artistic and heritage importance of the monument, it is one of the few sculptures cast by a Portuguese industrial foundry in the 19th century. This study obtained data on the sculpture’s elemental composition and corrosion products, gathering important historical and technical information. For this purpose, a multi-analytical approach consisting of X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS) was carried out to characterise the bulk metal and corrosion layers. The data revealed a ternary alloy of Cu, Sn and Zn, with Pb, Fe, As, Bi and Mn as minor elements. The alloy matches that of other sculptures cast in that period. In terms of corrosion, it is characterised by the presence of oxides. These results represent the first step for applying an appropriate conservation strategy for bronze sculptures with similar characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3050-3064
Number of pages15
JournalHeritage
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • 19th century metal sculpture
  • Afonso Henriques
  • Art foundries
  • Corrosion
  • Elemental characterisation
  • Outdoor sculpture

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