Gessoes in Portuguese Baroque gilding grounds, part 1: A study of historical documentary sources

Isabel Pombo Cardoso, Elizabeth Pye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


The surviving gilded and polychrome altarpieces and sculptures in Portuguese churches, and the historical documents relating to them, offer an opportunity for understanding material and technological choices regarding gesso grounds. This paper focuses on the historical documentary research about gessoes — one aspect of a wider research project which also involved investigation of physical/chemical evidence, and archaeological reconstructions of gilded gesso grounds. Documentary research sheds light on the meaning of the terms used in historical documents, and on artists’ choice of materials and practices, production, and trade patterns of materials. It informs technological investigations and conservation decisions. The paper also stresses the importance of the evidence gained by using the historical and archaeological methodology applied in material culture studies, in which documentary, analytical, and experimental information complement and/or elucidate each other, leading to a comprehensive understanding of this technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-209
Number of pages25
JournalStudies in Conservation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Anhydrite
  • Double-structured ground
  • Gesso grosso
  • Gesso mate
  • Gilding technological choices
  • Gypsum
  • Water gilding gesso grounds

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Gessoes in Portuguese Baroque gilding grounds, part 1: A study of historical documentary sources'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this