Creating the illusion: The marble and stone-like decoration of the main altarpiece of St. Francis church, in Viseu

Irina Crina Anca Sandu, Elsa Murta, Fátima Eusebio, Rita Veiga, Lia Jorge, Vânia Solange Muralha, Manuel Francisco Costa Pereira, Tito Busani, Nuno Leal, Sílvia Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The paper presents an innovative interdisciplinary study focusing on the gilded/polychrome decoration emulating stone-like surfaces of a Rococo Retable from Saint Francis Church in Viseu, Portugal. This study was undertaken within a 3-year research project, abbreviated Gilt- Teller ( For the characterization of the altarpiece's polychromy a representative number of samples were analyzed using a multi-technique methodology: Optical Microscopy coupled with fluorescent staining tests, microFTIR/FTIR and microRaman spectroscopy, micro-computerized tomography, Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry. Preliminary results reveal the stratigraphical and compositional characteristics of the polychromy: ground layers made of gypsum, anhydrite, calcium carbonate and animal glue; bole layers of red ochre color (Hematite); Au/Cu/Ag metal leaf, coated with shellac; marble-like polychromy made with blue, white and red pigments (Prussian blue, Lead white, Hematite, Vermillion) and "golden particles" (Cu-Zn alloy ink-type) applied in the form of fine lines on their shaft or on the round-shaped base of the columns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-486
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Conservation Science
Issue numberSpecialIssue
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Altarpiece
  • Decorative techniques
  • Gilding materials
  • Interdisciplinary study
  • Marble-like decoration


Dive into the research topics of 'Creating the illusion: The marble and stone-like decoration of the main altarpiece of St. Francis church, in Viseu'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this