Multi-analytical identification of pigments and pigment mixtures used in 17th century Portuguese azulejos

Susana Coentro, João M. Mimoso, Augusta M. Lima, António Santos Silva, Alexandre N. Pais, Vânia S.F. Muralha

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44 Citations (Scopus)


A multi-analytical approach was used to study the pictorial layers of a set of 17th century historic glazed tiles (azulejos) of Portuguese manufacture. The pictorial layer was studied by μ-EDXRF, μ-Raman, SEM-EDS and OM. Although the established palette comprises few pigments, it was found that the tiles were enhanced by the use of pigment mixtures, which were identified by μ-Raman and μ-EDXRF. As expected, the blue colour derives from cobalt oxide, purple from manganese oxide and emerald-green from copper oxide. Regarding the yellow pigment, μ-Raman results show it is consistent with the composition of a ternary oxide, whereas μ-EDXRF shows a high intensity of Zn in this colour, indicating a composition close to a Pb-Sb-Zn ternary oxide. Some compounds from the original ores were also indentified: in two very dark blue samples, cobalt and nickel olivines (α-Co2SiO4, α-Ni2SiO4), and in a dark brown sample, braunite (a manganese silicate).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the European Ceramic Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Azulejo
  • Pigment
  • Naples Yellow
  • Glazed tiles
  • Glaze analysis


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