Three Persian Qajar paintings from the National Gallery Sofia. Study of the technology and the composition materials for the purpose of dating and conservation evaluation
National Gallery, Saint Alexander Nevsky Sq., 1, 19th February St., 1000, Sofia, Bulgaria
2 Institute of Organic Chemistry with Centre of Phytochemistry, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev St., build. 9, 1113, Sofia, Bulgaria
3 Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Physics, 5 J. Bourchier Blvd., 1164, Sofia, Bulgaria
Accepted: 24 June 2021
Published online: 8 July 2021
Three Persian oil paintings on canvas from the collection of the National Gallery, Sofia, representing a Musician playing Daf, Musician playing Santour and Royalty/Prince, dating from the Persian Qajar era, created as marouflaged canvas murals, but dismounted, relined and converted to easel paintings at some point, were studied for the purpose of dating, conservation and technological evaluation. A series of micro-samples and cross sections were investigated by optical microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy in a scanning electron microscope (SEM-EDS), attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR), Raman spectroscopy and with non-destructive methods as X-ray, IR and UV-fluorescence imaging in order to characterize the protective coatings or varnishes, paint layers, primers, ground layers, lining adhesive components and canvases. The non-destructive investigation methods, the samples and cross sections studies with the analytical methods applied contributed to identify the composition and stratigraphy, identical for both paintings with Musicians showing previous historical restorations. The data collected from the analysis of the Royalty/Prince painting also proved previous interventions, complex stratigraphy and presence of overpaintings. The integrated materials are similar for the three artworks. The analysis revealed a rich blend of predominant traditional materials and techniques with little new European impact, which allows dating the paintings back to the first quarter of the XIX century. The study of the composition of the paintings determines the direction of the conservation and restoration approaches.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021