A Monument of Byzantine wall painting: the method of construction

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Gettens, Rutherford J.; Stout, George L.;


Studies in conservation, Volume 3, Number 3, p.107-119 (1958)


Byzantine, mural paintings, pigments


The walls of a chapel in Istanbul hold a series of pictures painted on the plaster covering of its interior. The chapel is part of a church now known as the Kariye Çamii. The paintings date from the early part of the fourteenth century. They are on two coats of lime plaster which cover the brick and mortar walls. Chopped straw is an ingredient throughout the plaster, and there is a variety of minor and accidental inclusions. There is now little or no evidence of an organic binder in the paint layers, which form however a quite distinct layer on top of the plaster. It is suggested that a paint consisting of pigment mixed with a milky dilution of lime putty, possibly with added organic binder, was applied to the partly set plaster. Blue pigments were principally azurite, but a smalt and an indigo were found. A rare chloride of copper, paratacamite, was found. This was probably formed by chloride ions reacting with the azurite.