A micro-Raman investigation on four wooden polychrome sculptures of Jan Geernaert (1704-1777), a Flemish sculptor who worked in Italy in the 18th century, is presented. The statues, representing the Holy Virgin Mary, with the infant Jesus in three of them, were created in the period 1750-1770 and are all made by poplar wood. The purpose of the micro-Raman investigations was to identify the original pigments used in 18th century, after later repainting interventions. In all statues, wood is covered by a groundwork, made by gypsum and animal glue. All pigments were identified, both in the original pictorial cover or in later repainted layers. Pigments were spread on a white lead layer (the so called imprimitura). Attention was particularly focused on the blue colours of the Holy Virgin mantle. In the external repainted layers, Prussian blue (Iron(II,III) hexacyanoferrate(II,III)) was found, together with ultramarine blue, a synthetic pigment, alternative to natural precious lapis lazuli, accessible on or after 1828. In one case, phthalocyanine blue is found, confirming a recent (later than 1930-35) restoration. The original skin colours are obtained by white lead and cinnabar (HgS), while the repainted layers are made by mixing chrome yellow (PbCrO4, synthesized in 1809), zinc yellow (ZnCrO4, 1809), red lead (Pb3O4), ultramarine blue, cinnabar, hematite (Fe2O3), goethite (alpha-FeOOH), calcite (CaCO3) and white lead.
Raman analysis on painted wooden statues / Aliatis, I.; Bersani, D.; Lottici, P.P.; Marino, I.-G.. - In: ARCHÉOSCIENCES. - ISSN 1960-1360. - 36(2012), pp. 7-13. [DOI : 10.4000/archeosciences.3806]