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Raluca A. Cristache, Ion Sandu, Viorica Vasilache and Oana Cristache


This study presents a physicochemical analysis on the orthodox icon “The grieving Mother” from XIXth century. The icon is made by an anonymus painter, in tempera pigments, on a lime wood support, Tillia cordata. God’s Mother is represented from one side, only the bust, with the head down, framed by a white border. The predominant colors of the icon are ultramarine blue, ocher, red-brown, with silver leaf. The edges of the panel were painted with tempera pigments as the border. On the right edge an inscription in blue ink, can be seen, but is unreadable. The painting layer has gaps, fissures, detachments, dirt, degraded and scaly varnish. The panel is made from a single board, transversally cut, without crossbeams. The study is based on the identification of some archeometric characteristics of the wood panel and of the pigment layer. To determin painting materials and the conservation state, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (Micro-FTIR) and Scanning Electron Microscope coupled with Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) were employed. Using this methods we identify the pigments used and the state of degradation of the panel. The FTIR spectrum analysis showed that the pigment layer contains schellac varnish, ultramarine blue and dust, a conclusion supported by SEM-EDX analysis.