Calcium sulfate fillers and binders in Portuguese 15th and 16th centuries: Ground layers from a family painting workshop - Study by multianalytical spectroscopic techniques

Vanessa Antunes, António Candeias, Mercês Lorena, Ana Isabel Seruya, Maria Luísa Carvalho, Milene Gil, José Mirão, João Coroado, Virgínia Gomes, Vitor Serrão, Ana Isabel Seruya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study presents results on a developed methodology to characterize ground layers in Portuguese workshops.In this work a set of altarpieces of the 15th and 16th centuries, assigned to Coimbra painting workshop was studied, overall the masters Vicente Gil (doc. Coimbra 1498-1525), Manuel Vicente (doc. Coimbra 1521-1530) and Bernardo Manuel (act. c. 1559-94), father, son and grandson, encompassing from late gothic to mannerist periods.The aim of the study is to compare ground layers, fillers and binders of Coimbra workshop, and to correlate their characteristics to understand the technical evolution of this family of painters, using complementary microscopic techniques.The cross-sections from the groups of paintings were examined by optical microscopy and the results were integrated through the analysis obtained by μ-X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray Spectrometry, μ-confocal Raman and occasionally with μ-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy imaging. Ground layers are of calcium sulfate, present as gesso grosso (mainly anhydrite with small amounts of gypsum) in the first and last phases of the workshop and gesso mate (mainly gypsum with small amounts of anhydrite) in an intermediate period. Binders have protein and oleic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-298
Number of pages9
JournalMicrochemical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Anhydrite
  • Coimbra workshop
  • Fillers
  • Ground layer
  • Gypsum
  • Portuguese painting

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