From Byzantine to post-Byzantine art: the painting technique of St Stephen's wall paintings at Meteora, Greece
The old katholikon of St Stephen's monastery at the Meteora (site of the most important complex of monasteries in Greece after Mount Athos) is decorated with wall paintings that date from the beginning of 17th century. In terms of style, the artistic ensemble is altogether characteristic of the period. The painting technique has been examined by means of pRaman and pFTIR spectroscopies, gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC/MS), optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Prior to the commencement of restoration treatment, and in order to optimise its effect, it was considered prudent to identify the materials and ascertain the techniques that had been used to apply the plaster and the paint layers. It was noted that whereas the ariccio consists of yellow clay and straw, the intonaco contained calcite. The painter's palette is made up of eight pigments: calcite, carbon black, yellow ochre, haernatite, green earth, cinnabar, smalt and malachite. The stratigraphy and the scale of the shades differ significantly from those in works of the Palaeologan period (1261-1453) - indicative both of evolution in Byzantine iconography as a result of gradually changing religious and social circumstances, and of the skill and vision of the painter. In addition, some decay products, such as gypsum, were detected. In that they conceal important artistic details, this necessitates proper consolidation, cleaning and conservation treatment in order to restore to some degree the original splenclour of the wall paintings. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.