New Insights into Synthetic Copper Greens: The Search for Specific Signatures by Raman and Infrared Spectroscopy for Their Characterization in Medieval Artworks
Department of Conservation and Restoration and LAQV-REQUIMTE, NOVA School of Sciences and Technology of NOVA University Lisbon, 2829-516 Monte da Caparica, Portugal
Department of Information Sciences, Federal University of Ceará, Fortalez CEP 60020-181, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Heritage 2019, 2(2), 1614-1629; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2020099
Received: 16 April 2019 / Revised: 22 May 2019 / Accepted: 23 May 2019 / Published: 4 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances of Analytical Chemistry in Cultural Heritage)
A systematic investigation of medieval copper green pigments was carried out based on written sources: 21 manuscripts, dating from 50–70 to 1755 AD, were sourced and 77 recipes were selected, translating into 44 experiments. Reconstructions from medieval recipes were prepared and characterized through a multianalytical approach to disclose the original pigment formulation that is often described as verdigris. Based on the results obtained, we propose three main groups of copper green pigments, group 1, in which only Cu(CH3COO)2·H2O is formed; group 2, where this acetate is found together with copper oxalates; group 3, in which atacamite is present as the major green component or as a signature compound. The products formed are in perfect agreement with that predicted by the state-of-the-art research on the mechanisms of atmospheric corrosion of copper. This knowledge, together with our experience on craft recipes to prepare medieval paint materials, allowed us to recover a lost medieval recipe to produce a copper green pigment based mainly on atacamite, a basic copper chloride, which has been recently detected, by Raman and infrared spectroscopy, in artworks ranging from Catalonia and the Crown of Aragon panel painting to Islamic manuscripts.