Characterization of the main causes of deterioration of grisaille paint layers in 19th C. stained-glass windows by J.-B. Capronnier
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Spectrochimica acta: part B: atomic spectroscopy. - Oxford, 1967, currens
, p. 589-607
University of Antwerp
Twenty-seven glass fragments containing dark coloured grisaille paint layers of different qualities were collected from ten windows of the cathedral St. Michael & St. Gudule in Brussels (Belgium). The windows were made by J.-B. Capronnier (18141891) and cover the period between 1843 and 1878. The samples were cross-sectioned and examined in an electron microscope. Grisaille paint layers are not homogeneous and therefore, it is not meaningful to characterize them in terms of their average composition. Instead, parameters such as granularity, the number of residual gas bubbles per running millimetre of paint, the type of pigments, and the thickness of the paint layer were used to characterize them. The microscopic morphology allows a classification of the grisaille paint layers in four groups, every group associated with a quality level. Moreover, the main causes of the accelerated degradation of some of these paint layers could be explained. The classification made it possible to distinguish two periods in the work of Capronnier: (1) the early period (18431848) is characterized by the presence of either single granular paint layers or of double-layered systems consisting of a granular paint layer on top of a well-melted paint layer. The granular grisaille paint layers tend to pulverize; (2) the later period (18481878) is characterized by the presence of only well-vitrified paint layers. No sign of deterioration was found on the well-vitrified paint layers.