Unveiling the paint stratigraphy and technique of Roman African polychrome statues

Elisabetta Neri*, Matthias Alfeld, Nesrine Nasr, Laurence de Viguerie, Philippe Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

If ancient written sources and the visual analysis of polychromies have recently revealed the complexity of the technique of painting on statues and their frequent restoration, the non-invasive punctual chemical analyses carried out do not allow one to access the chemical composition of the different paint layers. This paper presents the analysis of three statues from Roman Africa discussing the results obtained from this understudied territory and chronology. By combining visual observation (VIS, UVL), video microscopy and MA-XRF imaging, we propose here a non-invasive protocol to determine the chemical composition of the different paint layers. This allows one to unveil the complexity of the ‘know-how’ of a sculpture painter and sheds light on the evolution of the original appearance of the statues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118
Number of pages11
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Ancient restorations
  • Imaging technique
  • MA-XRF
  • Pigments
  • Polychromy
  • Roman sculpture

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