’50 shades of blue’.

Physical Reality and Psychological Perception in Medieval Mural Paintings

Contributor: Floréal Daniel

Institute of Archaeomaterials Research

Research Centre for Applied Physics in Archaeology (CRP2A)

In this Discussion,Beynac Virginthe context will be given that led to the multidisciplinary project (psychology, archaeometry) ‘The Virgin’s Blue Coat’, which subscribes to an ‘art and vision’ theme at the heart of current applications in the cognitive sciences and aims to study perceptive illusions manifest in certain Medieval mural paintings, propose different perceptive mechanisms and highlight the influence of higher-level variables, whether cognitive, developmental or social.

Some examples of these coloured illusions in various Medieval mural paintings of the Aquitaine region have raised questions both in terms archaeology and psychology.

In terms of archaeology and art history, it examines the use of colour during the Medieval era. Moreover, experiments on perception first require the acquisition of images of paintings or coloured ranges, to reproduce them as faithfully as possible and consequently take into account related problems, for example the alteration of pigments and the influence of sources of light.

In terms of psychology, the ancient use, and in varied semantic contexts, notably, of the illusion of simultaneous contrast puts into question, from the point of view of the observer, the automatic character of the perceptive and cognitive processes of the categorisation of colour, and provides rich investigatory material.



FiatLux: Fusion of Imaging and Time-Tracking for the Study of Geometrically Complex Paintings [Fusion d’ImAgerie et suivi Temporel pour L’étude de peintUres à géométrie compleXe]

Interdisciplinary project ‘Imag’In Challenge’. 2015–2017

The ‘FiatLux’ project aims to relate certain techniques in imaging analysis and processing, radiation physics, physico-chemistry of materials and 3D spatialisation of information, to digital documentation for the conservation heritage paintings. Its purpose is to merge images and information produced by various analytical field techniques and to enable the spatialisation of this information as well as the tracking of its development through time. This information concerns the morphology of painting panels on wood as much as mural paintings and data on these materials (nature, location in pictorial layers etc.). A multi-scale approach (from centimetre to micrometre) to the combined data will also be integrated in this fusion, which will be based on a common geometric framework. The works studied under this project are:

– Trinity Retable (Catalan school, attributed to the Master of Canapost, 15th century, dated 1489, Hyacinthe Rigaud museum, Perpignan)

– Venasque Retable, Saint Pierre, surrounded by Saint Maurice and Saint Marthe (School of Avignon, 15th century, Petit Palais museum, Avignon (permanent loan from Calvet museum))

– Chapel of Notre-Dame des Fontaines, La Brigue

Coordination: MAP-CICRP (L. de Luca, J.-M. Vallet)

Other partners: National School of Geographic Sciences (ENSG, Paris), Laboratory of Electronics, Computer Science and Imaging (LE2I, Dijon), Laboratory of Molecular and Structural Archaeology (LAMS, Paris), Historic Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH, Champs-sur-Marne)

Website: http://www.map.cnrs.fr/?p=4039

By Poinsot A., Cherblanc F., Bromblet Ph., Bagnéris M. and Mercurio V.

25 June 2015 at 1.30 p.m.

The Alba Museum’s (MuséAl) collection includes a monumental truncated male statue in white marble, discovered in 1992 in the cella of the axial temple of the Bagnols sanctuary. Dated to the end of the 1st century/beginning of the 2nd century AD, it certainly represents a heroised emperor. It will become the centrepiece of the museum collection.

However, the base of this fractured statue means that complex technical and aesthetic constraints must be taken into account. An in-depth and multidisciplinary study (conservator, conservator/restorer, archaeologist, historian, scientists from the CICRP and MAP/Gamsau) has thus been launched under the aegis of Aude Poinsot, director of the museum, integrating a detailed condition report, the critical review of the existing mounting solutions, of measurement of the speed of sound coupled with 3D modeling by photogrammetry and mechanical behaviour simulations.

Several mounting scenarios have been tested using models.

The whole study will be presented in the course of the Discussion.


Register at: info@cicrp.fr 

Summary and presentations of the conference on natural plasters and cement of 21/05/15 at the Marseille History Museum

Since 2003, the Vicat Group has been a member of the French Heritage Partners Circle, and three research programmes have been carried out under this partnership with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the natural cement heritage. The first two addressed in particular the use of natural cement from the 19th century onwards in the Rhône-Alpes region. The third programme, the results of which were given during the symposium, focused on the natural cement heritage of Marseille. These latter efforts, carried out locally in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Heritage Conservation and Restoration (CICRP), have enhanced our knowledge of the history of the development of this material in the Marseille context, of the typologies of buildings and of the recurrent pathologies, and have yielded important information on the physico-chemical and micro-structural properties of these materials.




12 March 2015 at 1.30 p.m.

Louis XIV Visiting the Gobelins Factory

Louis XIV Visiting the Gobelins Factory

Contributor: Jean Fouace, chief conservator of cultural heritage, head of the CICRP’s scientific department

The history of the Mobilier National and the Manufactures Nationales of the Gobelins, the Savonnerie and Beauvais are inextricably linked. Each of these structures has served to furnish the halls of power under different regimes since Louis XIV. Under the Fifth Republic the institution, even if its function has evolved, remains the true Furniture Warehouse of the Nation.

In the course of this Discussion, the history and the functions of the institution as well as the wealth of its collections will be touched on.


Since the number of places is limited, please confirm your attendance by email to the following address: info@cicrp.fr

CICRP – 21, rue Guibal – 13003 Marseille




Issues and challenges in the restoration and presentation of a double-sided artwork

The Petit Palais museum has been working for many years in close collaboration with the CICRP and is offering the opportunity to the public to discover the scientific studies and restorations that the works have undergone, in the format of case study exhibits: the Case Studies of the Petit Palais. These case studies have been as successful in satisfying public curiosity and demand for precise and current information on the works as the request made by the Museums of France Heritage Department to refocus on the permanent collections.

The second piece of the series, ‘Popular piety in Italy in the 15th century. The banner of Saint Blaise by Niccolò da Foligno’, is dedicated to an important banner painted by Niccolò da Foligno. This piece, which has significantly enriched the collections of the Petit Palais museum, is part of the Campana collection given on permanent loan by the Louvre Museum in 1976. Probably commissioned by the brotherhood of Santa Maria del Vescovado of Assisi from the most accomplished Umbrian painter of the 15th century, this very large two-sided processional banner is the only example of this type of devotional object in France’s collections. It was awaiting restoration before being presented to the public.



• Dominique Vingtain, director of the Petit Palais museum: Brief history of a very long restoration [histoire d’une très longue restauration]

• Monique Pomey, restorer (reserve): Restoration of the banner at the CICRP [La restauration de la bannière au CICRP]

• Sarah Boularand, CICRP chemist: Results of the last chemical analyses [Les résultats des dernières analyses chimiques]

• Marie Mayot, assistant director of the Petit Palais museum: Presentation of a two-sided piece and its restoration to the public [La présentation d’une œuvre biface et la restitution au public]

Duration: 2002–2009

CICRP: Philippe Bromblet, Jean-Marc Vallet

Partnerships(s): Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), Historic Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH) and Olivier Rolland, restorer

This research programme, launched in 2002 on Bourges Cathedral, has subsequently benefited from financing for a duration of two years (2004–2006) under the National Research Project on the Conservation and Knowledge of Heritage (PNRCC) on the isotopic tracing of sulphate sources leading to the weathering of stone monuments.

The objectives were the following:

  • to specify the origins of the soluble sulphates responsible for the degradation of the stones
  • to identify and quantify the contributions of different sources identified, whether natural and internal to the stone (e.g. pyrite) or external (marine sprays), unintentional anthropogenic (urban atmospheric pollution) or intentional (plaster, Roman cement).

Different sites of investigation were selected for their environmental characteristics and their type of stone: the cathedrals of Bourges, Chartres and Marseille, and the châteaux of Chenonceau and of Versailles (garden).

The new aspect of the methodology concerns the use of a multi-isotopic ‘toolbox’ including the measurement of the isotopic signature of sulphur and oxygen constituting these solid sulphates (‘SO4’) and of the boron present in traces in the form of borates (‘BO3’). The isotopic analyses have been carried out on altered stone, mortar, plaster and black crust samples taken in different conditions from the different sites. The isotopic analyses have thus made it possible to shed light on the respective contributions of the sulphates originating from atmospheric pollution (classed under ‘black crust’) and from the materials (plaster, mortars). The use of isotopic dosages of sulphur and oxygen constitute a promising tool in determining the origins of sulphates associated with the degradation of stone.


  • Kloppmann W., Rolland O. and Bromblet Ph., ‘Isotope study (S,O) of sulphate neoformations involved in the degradation of stones on Bourges Cathedral (France): internal versus external salt sources’, Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on Deterioration and Conservation of Stone, Stockholm, Sweden, 2004, p. 595–602.
  • Vallet J.-M., Gosselin C., Bromblet Ph., Rolland O., Vergès-Belmin V. and Kloppmann W., ‘Origin of salts in stone monument degradation using sulphur and oxygen isotopes: first results of the Bourges Cathedral (France)’, Journal of Geochemical Exploration, vol 88, 1–3, Jan–march 2006, GES-7, 7th International Symposium on the Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface, 23–27 August 2005, Aix en Provence, p. 358–362.
  • Kloppmann W., Vergès-Belmin V., Gosselin C., Rolland O., Bromblet Ph., Vallet J.-M. and Dotsika E., ‘Isotope (sulphur, oxygen, boron) tracing of internal or external origin of sulphates involved in the degradation of French monuments (BOS project)’, Proc. of the 7th European Conference ‘Sauveur’, Safeguarded Cultural Heritage, Understanding & Viability for the Enlarged Europe, 31st may – 3rd June 2006, Prague, Czech Republic, 2007, vol. 1, p.437–440.
  • Kloppmann W., Vergès-Belmin V., Rolland O., Bromblet Ph., Vallet J.-M. and Gosselin C., ‘Néoformation de sulfates comme facteur de dégradation des pierres des monuments : détermination par traçage isotopique (B, O, S) des sources internes et externes du soufre’, Proceedings of the symposium Science des matériaux du patrimoine culturel, 6 and 7 December 2007, Paris, France, Techné, Special Issue, 2008, p.114–119.
  • Kloppmann W., Bromblet Ph., Vallet J.-M., Vergès-Belmin V., Rolland O., Guerrot C. and Gosselin C., ‘Building materials as intrinsic sources of sulphate: A hidden face of salt weathering of historical monuments investigated through multi-isotope tracing (B, O, S)’, (2011) Sci Total Environ, 409, pp. 1658–1669.

Duration: 2008–2009

CICRP: Alain Colombini

Partnership(s): Museums of France Research and Restoration Centre Centre (C2RMF)

A research programme on the identification and behaviour of PVC materials was undertaken in liaison with the Museums of France Research and Restoration Centre (C2RMF), primarily from analyses carried out on pure PVC resins, current consumer products and works of art, particularly inflatable structures.


BALCAR, N. and COLOMBINI, A., ‘Approche multi-analyses pour l’étude du PVC : cas de structures gonflables’, presented to Art d’aujourd’hui, patrimoine de demain, S.F.I.I.C., Paris, June 2009.

Duration: 2010–2011

CICRP director: Alain Colombini

Partnership(s): Research Centre for the Conservation of Collections (CRCC); ARC-Nucléart; Laboratory of Molecular and Macromolecular Photochemistry of Clermont-Ferrand; Museums of France Research and Restoration Centre (C2RMF), in the context of a Regional Natural Park of Corsica (PNRC)

This project focuses on celluloid, a material widely used during the 20th century but which has become almost obsolete due to the risks associated with its usage, as well as its stability. The project has yielded proposals for conservation and treatment measures drawing on studies carried out on heritage works.

Duration: 2010–2011

CICRP: Alain Colombini

Partnership(s): Research Centre for the Conservation of Collections (CRCC), Laboratory of Molecular and Macromolecular Photochemistry (LPMM); Museums of France Research and Restoration Centre (C2RMF); Gwenola Corbin, conservator-restorer, National Centre of Plastic Arts (CNAP) grant

Under the restoration research allowance granted to Gwenola Corbin by the National Centre of Plastic Arts (CNAP), the CICRP has provided scientific assistance to this research project. The topics addressed have focused on identification techniques for rubbers present in museum collections, their degradation processes and their consolidation.


Corbin G. (2007), ‘Recherche sur la conservation et la restauration de Foot Soldier (Godzilla) de Kenji Yanobe. Complétée d’une étude sur les mousses polyuréthannes souples’, Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Avignon, report p. 241.