Application of shearography and the percussion method for the structural inspection of wall paintings: A case study of St. Christopher in Maria Church, Nisse

Valentina Gatto, Andrei G. Anisimov, Wouter Lettinga, Nan Tao, Merel Lantman, Bernice Crijns, Roger M. Groves

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Structural delamination in mural paintings is a complex phenomenon and is considered among the most frequent types of damage. In conservation practice, the most common technique to identify structural detachments is the percussion method. Full-field optical techniques based on interferometry, such as shearography, can provide a more scientifically substantiated evaluation of the condition of heterogeneous structures of wall paintings. The empirical nature of the percussion method was observed during the condition assessment of two medieval wall paintings in Maria Church, Nisse, the Netherlands. It can be argued that, to allow the formulation of specific treatment needs for structural delamination in wall paintings, accurate defect mapping and characterisation is needed. The application of shearography was believed to provide a holistic representation of the condition of the structure of the wall painting depicting St. Christopher in Maria Church. Preliminary comparison of the methods involved revealed a degree of matching between results obtained. Discrepancies, i.e. areas deemed extremely vulnerable during percussion testing that were not detected by shearography, are debatably caused by the misinterpretation of the acoustic response during percussion testing or the inability of shearography to detect in depth structural defects. Further research regarding shearography should focus on providing more information about the depth of structurally delaminated areas within the heterogeneous layered structure of wall paintings.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOptics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology VIII
EditorsHaida Liang, Roger Groves
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781510644021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventOptics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology VIII 2021 - Virtual, Online, Germany
Duration: 21 Jun 202125 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceOptics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology VIII 2021
CityVirtual, Online


  • Conservation and restoration
  • Delamination
  • Detachments
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Percussion method
  • Shearography
  • Structural inspection
  • Wall paintings

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