Technical Photography for mural paintings: the newly discovered frescoes in Aci Sant’Antonio (Sicily, Italy).
CHSOS used technical photography for the examination and documentation of wall paintings in Sicily. Visible, ultraviolet and infrared photography coupled with panoramic and mosaic stitching methods have been implemented on a cycle of 18th century frescoes, depicting the last days of Christ on earth which were recently discovered in Aci Sant’Antonio (Sicily). The paintings survive along the corners of an originally square chapel that was altered in the early 20th century, acquiring the current octagonal plan.
This study illustrates the methodological challenges that were posed for the examination of these mural paintings since the access was limited by the 20th century remodeling.
Raking light photography was used to reveal the paintings’ state of conservation, details of the plaster work and painting techniques. Ultraviolet fluorescence (UVF) and Infrared false color photography (IRFC) were also performed to evaluate areas of interest for further analytical and diagnostic studies.
Pigments Checker is for photographers, conservators and scientists interested in technical documentation of paintingss. It has 54 swatches of historical pigments designed for infrared photography, ultraviolet photography and other technical photographic methods for art examination. Check it out!
Pigments Checker is a collection of 54 swatches of historical pigments that have been applied using gum arabic as a binder on a cellulose and cotton watercolor paper, acids and lignin free. This paper is not treated with optical brighteners, it’s slightly UV fluorescent, and it reflects IR. Two cross-hair lines, 0,2 mm (vertical) and 0.4 mm (horizontal) are printed on each swatch of paper before the application of paint, in order to have a means to evaluate the pigments’ transparency in the IR and IRR imaging. Among all the pigments and their varieties ever used in art these pigments collection select the most used ones from antiquity to early 1950’.
The first striking feature is the lack of giornate. Only pontate are clearly seen in all the scenes thus indicating that in the larger paint areas, a mixed of fresco and secco technique would have been used. The Crucifix chapel has been one of CHSOS field projects for the training programs since 2013. This documentation work has been completed during the training program delivered in October 2014 for the Hercules Laboratory (Portugal). Indeed, CHSOS enjoyed the collaboration with Milene Gil, a conservator specialized in mural paintings, and Mauel Ribeiro, a photographer specialized in historical architecture. Their respective expertise was an excellent addition to the technical skills provided by the CHSOS training programs. The paper can be downloaded from Conservar Património: A. Cosentino, M. Gil, M. Ribeiro, R. Di Mauro “Technical Photography for mural paintings: the newly discovered frescoes in Aci Sant’Antonio (Sicily, Italy)” Conservar Património 20, 23-33, 2014.
Hope to meet you there! CHSOS will give a talk about “Innovation and Sustainability in Technical Art Examination and Color Documentation”.