Integrated Analytical Study for the Authentication of Five Russian Icons (XVI–XVII centuries)

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Monday 9 August 2010, by Icon Network

BY IRINA CRINA ANCA SANDU,1* SUSANNA BRACCI,2 ION SANDU,3 AND MARIELLA LOBEFARO4 1 REQUIMTE – Faculty of Sciences and Technology (FCT) of the NOVA University of Lisbon (UNL), Department of Conservation and Restoration, Campus da Caparica, Quinta da Torre, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal 2 Istituto per la Conservazione e la Valorizzazione dei Beni Culturali (ICVBC-CNR), Via Madonna del Piano, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI), Florence, Italy 3 ‘‘Al. I.Cuza’’ University of Iasi, Arheoinvest Platform – Laboratory for Scientific Investigation and Cultural Heritage Conservation Iasi, Romania 4 Cultural Association ‘‘Icons – Researches and Knowledge,’’ Via Oropa 57 – 13900, Biella, Italy


This article presents an integrated approach for the authentication of five Russian icons through the study of their paint materials (elemental composition and stratigraphic map- ping), state of conservation and artistic technique. The results of the applied analytical protocol, involving optical and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrom- etry and Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy/microspectroscopy, led to the conclusion that the five icons belong to the same group and iconographic school (from Northern Russia) and date from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of 17th century. Because of massive overpainting, the icons ‘‘suffered’’ a change in iconographic style and significance, and restoration treatment brought to light the original painting and its attribution. Identification of the composition of the original chromatic palette used by the iconographer, the stratigraphic mapping and the conserva- tion state of the painting materials, along with the features of the original artistic technique, fur- nished key elements for the icons’ authentication. Here, we present the first experimental data con- cerning the identification of the authentication characteristics, being part of a large project that has as its final aim the evaluation of the effectiveness and effects of the cleaning agent on the paint layers. Microsc. Res. Tech. 72:755–765, 2009. V VC 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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