Microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy analyses for assessment of gilding and silvering techniques of Portuguese illuminated manuscripts

Agnès Le Gac*, Isabel D. Nogueira, Mauro Guerra, José Carlos Frade, Stéphane Longelin, Marta Manso, Sofia Pessanha, Ana Isabel M. Seruya, Maria Luisa Carvalho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The objects of this study are various local charters (cartas de foral, in Portuguese) granted by Dom Manuel I, King of Portugal (1495-1521), which substituted for medieval ones and were intended to achieve an administrative unification. These are luxuriously illuminated manuscripts, and our study aims at obtaining a better understanding of the gilding and silvering techniques applied to the parchments, in which the forais were written, between 1500 and 1520. The combined use of microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy analyses allowed us to identify the vestigial materials used for making the parchments, including products such as salt (NaCl), lime (CaO), pumice stone (SiO2 + Al2O3), and chalk (CaCO3). Chalk was employed as a whitening agent to give the parchment its final color and opacity. Shell-gold and shell-silver mixed in with animal glue or gum binding media were directly applied on type 1 and 3 forais, while very thin gold leaves (<1 μm) were applied over lead-based tempera grounds (50-180 μm thick) in type 2 forais. Silver was always employed in its finest form without a further protective layer (thus its recursive state of corrosion), while gold was used in various alloy grades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-55
Number of pages36
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • EDXRF
  • FTIR
  • Illuminated manuscripts
  • SEM-EDS
  • X-ray spectroscopy

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy analyses for assessment of gilding and silvering techniques of Portuguese illuminated manuscripts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this