the international workshop, Fribourg, 7-9 March 1996

Hamdallah Bearat's picture
Research Title: 
What is the exact scale of Roman pigments? Confrontation of the results analysis with the texts of Vitruvius and Pliny
Hamdallah A. Béarat
Thu, 1995-12-07
Research Abstract: 

In the paper are presented results of more than 550 analyses carried out on wall painting fragments and raw pigments from 14 different Roman sites in Switzerland as well as Pompeii. 28 different pigments are identified: 7 whites (aragonite, chalk, slacked lime, dolomite, ring-white, cerussite and diatomite); 7 reds (hematite, red ochre, burnt goethite, cinnabar, red lead, sandyx and some peculiar lead-based pigment); 5 greens (celadonite, glauconite, chlorite, malachite and verdigris); 3 blacks (soot, charcoal and bone black); 1 blue (Egyptian blue); 1 brown (brown ochre); 1 grey (ash); 3 yellows (goethite, yellow ochre and clavey marne). In the light of these results, some anomalies concerning both published analyses and interpretations of the texts of Vitruvius and Pliny are discussed. In particular, the confusing pigments terminology, attribution of detected pigments to those mentioned by the texts, nature and origin of certain pigments, limit and riliability of analytic data, exploitation of local pigment resources and finally the relationship of pigments gamut and pictorial technique and to painting workshops.
keywords: Roman wall painting: materials, techniques, analysis and conservation