Metal sarcophagi of the Habsburg Imperial Crypt, Church of the Capuchin Friars, in Vienna, Austria: Analysis of surface coatings

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Bayerova, Tatjana; Pitthard, Vaclav; Griesharper, Martina; Griesharper-Stermscheg, Martina;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 57, Number S1, p.19-26 (2012)


The Imperial Crypt below the Capuchin church in Vienna (the Kapuzinergruft) has been the principal burial site for the Habsburg dynasty since 1633. Today it holds a world-famous ensemble of sarcophagi and is one of the most important sites in Austria. Due to unfavourable climatic conditions in the crypt, until recently the tin-alloy cast-metal sarcophagi were affected by serious corrosion processes. Several restoration campaigns were undertaken between 1964 and 2002, when many of the sarcophagi were treated with various protective coatings. However, after these interventions a new problem arose: ensuing damage occurred in areas where the protective coatings were applied. Information about the chemical composition of the multi-layered coating systems and their influence on the metal surfaces thus became a crucial area for research. This paper presents the latest results of the technical examination of the surface coatings from three tin-alloy sarcophagi.