Painting
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Painting

Painting is a very complicated subject, because the most-often-painted media rarely survive. Most surviving paintings are from the walls of tombs, sarcophagi from tombs, or are from Egypt with its dry climate. If its a sarcophagus from a tomb in Egypt, even better!

  • Collon, Dominique (2007) “The Queen Under Attack – A rejoinder”. Iraq, Vol. 69 pp. 43–51 https://www.jstor.org/stable/25608646 {the Old Babylonian Burney Relief is said to be painted with red ochre, carbon black, and gypsum white, it may have had a yellow pigment but none was sampled}

It was in 2004, in the context of preparing a digital reconstruction of the plaque’s appearance when fully painted (see Collon 2005: 8 Fig. 2; N.B. the colour should be redder), that the traces of pigment were first examined; the analysis was undertaken in 2005 using Raman spectroscopy. The written report on the pigment … describes the black pigment as ‘amorphous carbon, probably lamp black’, the red is ‘red ochre’ and the white is ‘pure clean gypsum.’ On the wing feathers the white is very faint, but is clearly different from those areas where paint is now missing completely; the white is particularly clear in the lines on the muzzles of the lions, where the sample was taken (see Collon 2005: 32 Fig. 12; the yellow used in the dogital reconstruction is based on its presence on a terracotta god from Ur, still visible but impossible to sample – see Collon 2005: 27 and cf. 12 Fig. 4).

Collon 2007 p. 43 n. 2
  • Richard Parkinson, The Painted Tomb-Chapel of Nebamun: Masterpiece of Ancient Egyptian Art in the British Museum. The British Museum Press: London, 2008.

The painters used a comparatively small range of colours and pigments. Scientific analysis of a set of samples taken from the paintings (of the tomb of Nebamun in the British Museum) (using optical microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopes) has revealed a standard palette for the period, and one that is quite simple. The colours used are: black (lampblack, [C]), a creamy white (calcium sulphate) and a bright white (huntite– a calcium magnesium carbonate), red ochres (containing haematite), yellow ochre (containing goethite and limonite), with blue and green frit (ie. Egyptian blue / faience).

Parkinson p. 50 citing Ambers, Janet 2008. “Pigments.” In Andrew Middleton and Ken Uprichard, The Nebamun Wall Paintings: Conservation, Scientific Analysis and Display at the British Museum. British Museum Press and Archetype Press: Londo.
  • Ambers, Janet 2008. “Pigments.” In Andrew Middleton and Ken Uprichard (eds.), The Nebamun Wall Paintings: Conservation, Scientific Analysis and Display at the British Museum. Archetype Press: London, 2008. See also the chapter by Rebecca Stanley on binders and varnishes.
  • Safaa A. Abd El Salam, Egyptian and Graeco-Roman Wall Plasters and Mortars: A Comparative Scientific Study. BAR International Series 1319. John and Erica Hedges Ltd: Oxford, 2004.
  • “Painting the Palace of Apries I: ancient binding media and coatings of the reliefs from the Palace of Apries, Lower Egypt” (link to part 1) – “Painting the Palace of Apries II: ancient pigments of the reliefs from the Palace of Apries, Lower Egypt” (link to part 2)
  • Stodulski, Leon / Farrell, Eugene / Newman, Richard (1984) “Identification of ancient Persian pigments from Persepolis and Pasargadae,” Studies in Conservation Vol. 29 pp. 143–154

ABSTRACT: Carefully documented specimens of ancient Persian pigments taken from the surface of the limestone reliefs at Persepolis and Pasargadae, and several bulk specimens excavated at Persepolis, have been identified as Egyptian blue, malachite, hematite, cinnabar and yellow ochre. A separate group of excavated materials, also thought to have been used as pigments, were determined to be Egyptian blue, azurite, the rare green mineral tyrolite, orthorhombic sulfur, a calcite-yellow ochre mixture, and realgar. These materials were studied and identified using a combination of optical and scanning electron microscopic, atomic emission spectrographic, X-ray diffractionand fluorescence, and Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometric techniques.”

  • Persepolis 3d
  • Pitsa tablets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitsa_panels and the article by Brecoulaci et al. titled “Colour and Painting Technique on the Archaic Panels from Pitsa, Corinthia.”
  • Erwin Emmerling, Stefan Demeter, and Maximilian Knidlberger (2010) “On the Painting Techniques of the Tomb Chamber.” In Lâtife Summerer and Alexander von Kienlin (eds.), Tatarlı: renklerin dönüşü / The return of colours / Rückkehr der Farben. Istanbul: T. C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı; Yapı Kredi Yayınları, pp. 204-233
  • Christopher Roosevelt and Christina Luke, “Painted Tomb Chambers in Lydia.” In Lâtife Summerer Alexander von Kienlin (eds.), Tatarlı: renklerin dönüşü / The return of colours / Rückkehr der Farben. Istanbul: T. C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı; Yapı Kredi Yayınları, pp. 342-353

Where modern retouching of painted wall fragments by those wishing to profit from involvement in the illegal antiquities market has not obscured the evidence irreparably, and from direct observation from Lale Tepe, one can note the ancient preference for a fairly stable selection of hues and pigments: red (ocher); black (carbon); blue (Egyptian blue); green (malachite); and also white, at least in the fragments from the Harta tumulus. Pigments were usually applied directly to the smoothed surfaces of limestone blocks, except for at Harta, where the relatively grainy and porous conglomerate used in the construction of the tomb chamber may have necessitated the use of a thin, white-ground undercoat. Stages of composition included initial draft-like sketching in red or black, subsequent filling in of shapes with colour, and occasional re-outlining in black.

p. 344

See also the sources and research cited under Wood and shields

Many of the materials are available from supermarkets, art-supply stores, and building suppliers, but if pressed see:

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