A comparative study of wall painting materials and techniques used in fifteenth century Austria by Frederich of Villach and his followers

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Križnar, Anabelle;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 59, Number 5, p.289-299 (2014)


One of the most important artistic circles in the first half of the fifteenth-century in Austria was the so-called ‘Older Villach's workshop’, founded by Frederic of Villach, a painter who was considered a master of fresco technique. A technical study was made of a number of wall painting cycles by the workshop of Frederic of Villach, first, to gain a broader knowledge of the painting techniques employed, and second, to allow comparison with a further group of wall paintings in Slovenia, which are stylistically related to this workshop and have been studied previously. Of special interest were artworks attributed to Frederic's son Johannes of Ljubljana and a number of other anonymous painters that show important similarities to Frederic's works. Samples of plasters and pigments were analysed by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction. An important difference in the composition of plasters was discovered between the selected artistic groups. The palette used comprised predominantly earth and other mineral pigments. The construction of the paintings from incisions and preparatory drawings to the final modelling is basically similar and shows workshop connections. The principal painting technique was a fresco. The results contribute to a wider knowledge concerning the materials and techniques employed in gothic wall paintings in the Alpine region and offer new information that can be used to inform the future conservation of these selected wall paintings.