A Color Analysis of the Brancacci Chapel Frescoes

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About one hundred significant spots (area = 0.5 cm2) that were homogeneously colored were selected on the frescoes "Resurrection of the son of Teofilo," "Saint Peter in pulpit," and "Saint Peter heals invalids by his shadow" in the Brancacci Chapel (Chiesa del Carmine, Florence). The reflectance spectra of these spots were recorded before and after restoration with the use of an external integrating sphere, which was connected through optical fibers to a UV/visible spectrophotometer, and the data were stored in a personal computer. Spectrophotometric investigations were also performed on small samples of frescoes, which were appropriately prepared, in a laboratory, with pure pigments. The results we obtained are discussed in the light of our main purposes: (1) to achieve nondestructive identification of pigments; (2) to help create time-unalterable color archives; (3) to establish a method for monitoring eventual color changes; and finally (4) to obtain useful information for the fields of art restoration and art history.

Keywords: Frescoes; Inorganic pigments; Optical fiber; Reflectance spectroscopy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1366/0003702914337713

Affiliations: Istituto di Ricerca sulle Onde Elettromagnetiche del C.N.R., Via Panciatichi 64, 50127 Firenze, Italy

Publication date: January 1, 1991

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