Two gothic wall paintings of Minorite church of St. Francis of Assisi (Koper, Slovenia)

A Raman microspectroscopy-based comparison of pigments applied in two gothic wall paintings in Slovenia

Maja Gutman Levstik, Ajda Mladenovič, Anabelle Križnar, Sabina Kramar


The present study deals with the characterisation of pigments used in two overlaid gothic wall paintings from the former 13th century Minorite church of St. Francis of Assisi (Koper, Slovenia), in order to define differences in the technologies used. Paint layer samples were analysed via Raman microspectroscopy, supported by SEM/EDS and FT-IR analysis, when necessary. The results revealed that the 14th century mural was painted mainly a fresco with final elements a secco, a technique typical of Italian mediaeval wall painting. In contrast, the 15th century painting was executed mostly a secco, a technique often applied in Northern Europe and the Alpine region. The differences between the two paintings are especially obvious in the pigments applied. While the earlier painting is characterised by azurite, carbon black, red and yellow ochres, lime white and green earth, the palette used for the younger painting is much broader. In addition to red and yellow ochres, carbon black and lime white, lead pigments such as lead white, red lead and lead-tin yellow type I were also determined, as well as a number of expensive pigments including cinnabar, azurite and malachite. Also found in the younger painting was the rare orange yellow pigment vanadinite. In both layers, azurite was applied a secco for the background area. Gilding was confirmed in both layers, carried out as application of gold leaves on red bole (in the earlier mural) and on mordant (on a younger, superimposed (overlaid painting), which is quite exclusive and rare for Slovene mediaeval painting. In the younger layer also a use of tin foil for secondary elements was discovered.


wall paintings, pigments, Gothic, gilding, Raman microspectroscopy

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0369-8963 - ISSN ONLINE: 2239-1002