The influence of dovetailed cross beams on the dimensional stability of a panel painting from the Middle Ages

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Publication Type:

Journal Article

Authors:

Allegretti, Ottaviano; Fioravanti, Marco; Dionisi-Vici, Paolo; Uzielli, Luca;

Source:

Studies in Conservation, Volume 59, Number 4, p.233-240 (2014)

Abstract:

This paper describes experiments carried out to determine the influence of dovetailed cross beams on the dimensional stability of a panel painting from the Middle Ages. Besides a serious cup (transverse distortion), the panel featured an unusual longitudinal distortion, a bow, mostly originating from bending in the proximity of the middle cross beam. Because of its localized occurrence, bending appeared to be caused by the crossbeam somehow pushing on the walls of its channel. Thanks to the cooperation offered by the curator and the restorer, some non-damaging tests were performed to measure the distortions of the panel, with and without the cross beams, after conditioning it in different climates. Processing and analysis of the measurement results demonstrated that the bow of the panel increases as the wood moisture content decreases. This led to the conclusion that the bow is actually produced by forces exerted by the cross beam along the panel's length, according to a mechanism named thrust transformation. By this mechanism the cross beam partly transforms the panel's tendency towards cupping, into a bow distortion.