’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]