Scientific Investigation of the Materials in the Zographic-Styled Icon

Scientific Investigation of the Materials in the Zographic-Styled Icon

1. Daniela Korolija Crkvenjakov, Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia, Serbia
2. Maja Gajić Kvaščev, Department of Chemical Dynamics and Permanent Education, Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences, Nation, Serbia
3. Velibor Andrić, Department of Chemical Dynamics and Permanent Education, Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences, Nation, Serbia
4. Vladimir Pavlović, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade, Nemanjina 6, 11080 Beograd, Serbia, Serbia
5. Olivera Klisurić, Univerzitet u Novom Sadu, Prirodno-matematički fakultet, Departman za fiziku, Serbia

Although icons were considered religious art, rigidly stereotyped by the heavy hand of church and tradition with the usage of typical medieval materials (wooden supports, chalk and gypsum for the preparation layer, egg tempera paint, and gold and silver leaves), various historical and territorial influences made the icon often chosen as the means of launching new painting materials. This fact triggered the current scientific investigation of the materials of the Zographic-styled icon, St. Theodor Tiron and St. George (inv. no. GMS/U 6334; 95 x 65.5 x 2.5 cm) by an anonymous painter, dated 1700, from the collection of the Gallery of Matica srpska from Novi Sad (Serbia), the museum that holds one of the richest collections of Serbian 18th-century religious art.
The icon was found in the Serbian church of St. Theodore Tyron in Irig in Srem where it was a part of a throne. Painted in the spirit of late-Byzantine painting, just after the last Great Migration of Serbs, icon shows a golden background, the hilly ground which is lit in the distance, and the figures of the two holy warriors: Saint George, the greatest protector of soldiers, and the great martyr Saint Theodore Tyron the protector of recruits, of those who go off to war for the first time [1].
The wooden support of the icon consists of three boards, glued together. The canvas has been glued on the board, and then covered by a gesso preparation. The preparatory drawing is visible as incised lines, defining the main contours of composition. The gold was applied in leaves, on the orange bole layer and burnished. The silver leaf is applied on the sword and on the figures of saints, giving idea of armor on chests and legs. The paint layer is thick and compact. The palette is simple, including base colours: blue, green, red, brown, black and white.
The present study puts focus on blue pigments, a good indicator of the painter’s choices of materials according to price and availability. The aim of this study was to use non-destructive analytical techniques (UVR-ultraviolet reflected photography, UVL-ultraviolet luminescence photography, EDXRF-energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence) to characterize the materials used on the blue parts of the icons. On the other hand, there were a few cross-sections of samples of blue pigments available as additional information about the stratigraphy of the layers, for a final discussion about the painting technique. The SEM-EDX offered detailed analysis through paint layers, enabling more reliable identification of the used materials.
Both EDXRF and SEM-EDX analytical techniques confirmed the presence of the azurite pigment (Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2). In the EDXRF spectra the azurite was identified by the presence of characteristic peak of copper [2]. This was confirmed by EDX spectra, containing the copper peak, as well as, an intense peak of carbon and oxygen. EDXRF and EDX spectra displayed the peaks of lead and calcium, indicating the presence of lead white pigments and usage of calcium carbonate-based materials.

Ključne reči :

Tematska oblast: SIMPOZIJUM A - Nauka materije, kondenzovane materije i fizika čvrstog stanja

Datum: 24.08.2023.

Contemporary Materials 2023 - Savremeni materijali

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