The scientific examination of the polychromed sculpture in the Herlin altarpiece

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Journal Article


Broekman-Bokstijn, M.; Van Asperen de Boer, J.R.J.; Van'T Hul-Ehrnreich, E. H.; Verduyn-Groen, C.M.;


Studies in conservation, Volume 15, Number 4, p.370-400 (1970)


altarpieces, azurite, binder (material), carbon black, cathedrals, Friedrich (c. 1435-c. 1500), Germany (Rothenburg ober der Tauber), green earth, Herlin, indigo, lead white, madder, matte, paint, pigment, polychromy, red lead, sculpture, verdigris, vermilion


An account is given of the examination of the polychromed sculpture of the altarpiece (1466) by Friedrich Herlin in the cathedral of Rothenburg ober der Tauber (Germany). Analytical methods used, such as microscopy, wet chemical analysis, infrared spectrophotometry, thin layer chromatography, and gas and liquid chromatography are briefly described. Criteria for identification are summarized. Pigments identified are azurite, indigo, verdigris, green earth, madder, vermilion, red lead, lead white, and carbon black. The binding medium is glue in matte areas. In other parts paintings are mostly based on a resinous medium with varying amounts of oil. The materials identified in the appliqué relief brocades are compared with recipes described in the Liber Illuministarius from Tegernsee. Silver foil is used in producing translucent paint.