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Characterisation of the different hands in the composition of a 14th century breviary by means of portable XRF analysis and complementary techniques

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A 14th‐century breviary known as Breviario di San Michele della Chiusa, produced at the disposal of the monks of Sacra di San Michele abbey (near Turin, Italy) has been analysed in order to identify the different authors who contributed in its making. The study aimed at revealing how many scribes composed the text and the musical notations and how many artists worked for miniatures and for the decorations of initials. All inks and decorative features have been analysed by means of portable X‐ray fluorescence spectrometry for determining elemental distribution and by means of ultraviolet–Visible diffuse reflectance spectrophotometry with optic fibres and spectrofluorimetry for identifying colourants. The results on non‐invasive measurements highlighted that at least 11 persons (six scribes for the text, two scribes for the musical notations, two artists for initials and filigrees and one artist for the full‐page miniature at f. 208v) were at work at the Breviario. Moreover, the black inks used for text and notes have an anomalous composition, being iron gall inks with a larger than usual amount of zinc, possibly as a consequence of the use of vitriols made from goslarite; this suggests that the scribes could come from Northern Europe. The presence of traces of bismuth in blue paints also suggested the provenance of azurite from Central or Northern Europe. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Keywords: XRF; goslarite; inks; manuscript; non‐invasive

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2017

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