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Gesso layers on Portuguese Baroque altarpieces: materials, practices and durability

Fernandes Pombo Cardoso, M.I.; (2010) Gesso layers on Portuguese Baroque altarpieces: materials, practices and durability. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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The surviving baroque gilded and polychrome wooden altarpieces in Portuguese churches offer an opportunity for the study of the relationship between historical documentary sources and physical evidence. This project involved four research elements. The first considered written documents surviving from the 17th and 18th centuries - ecclesiastical account books and contracts made between the Portuguese Church and the artists they employed. From these, detailed information was extracted about the materials used in the gesso grounds of the altarpieces. The second concentrated on extensive analysis of gesso grounds of gilded samples from those objects. The third concentrated on experimental work on gilded wood simulations which revealed physical and mechanical aspects of these gesso grounds. Finally, a comparison of these three elements, together with supplementary research on the trade, economy, geology and history of the period, and on the physical/mechanical behaviour of materials, has led to new understandings. This study aimed to shed light on such areas as the artists’ materials and practices, the relationship between artists and allied artisans, production and trade patterns of materials, the chemical meaning of the terms used historically, as well as important understanding of how the materials and practices employed in making the gesso grounds produced exceptionally durable gilded surfaces.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Gesso layers on Portuguese Baroque altarpieces: materials, practices and durability
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/20215
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