1The article summarizes a research that has hitherto been conducted over the works and techniques of a lesser known Norwegian painter , Gottfried Ezekiel. His artistic work in the region of Nordland can be linked to the benefactor, bishop Nicolai Friis. Ezekiel's works had a major impact on the development of ecclesiastical art in these parts of Norway. The works of Ezekiel were described in several volumes, such as the Annals of the District Museum of Nordland by T. M. Indahl in 1981, a book published in 1990 to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the church in Bodin, edited by T.F. Eilersten, or an M.A. Thesis published in 1986 by S. Cook Evjenth titled Painters of Bergen Guild 1743-1839. However, missing in those works were a comparative analysis of the works ascribed to him, a scrutiny of the techniques used by the painter and a description of the materials he used. These imperfections became an incentive for carrying out a research.
2Additionally, the recently held restoration works of the Louis Philippe Roomlocated in the area of Kultur Center in Bodø (North Norway), with decorations dating back to 1754, provided an opportunity to take up technological research of the artist's works. The research was made possible due to the collaboration of the restorers from the Cultural Heritage Section of Nordland with the academics of Potsdam, Erfurt, Berlin and Toruń. The conservation studio in Kultur Center in Bodø hosted students from the said universities, including the Department of Painting Technologies and Techniques of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, for internship. The first research over Ezekiel's technique was held during the summer restoration workshop of 2012. It was aimed at comparing the techniques of painting the ornaments, which were the most characteristic element of Ezekiel's creative output, on the works signed by the artist himself, with the embellishments that are attributed to him. The research was conducted on two remaining decoration complexes in the Church of Bodin and the so-called Louis Philippe Room. Further research was conducted as part of an M.A. Thesis titled the Technique of 18th century painting decorations by Gottried Ezekiel in Louis Philippe Room in Bodø, Norway, under the supervision of prof. Elżbieta Basiul from Nicolaus Copernicus University. The thesis focused on the ornaments from a bishops palace, which no longer exists today – on a secondary display – rare wallpapers painted on canvasses from 1754, complete with a polychrome wooden ceiling.
3The recognition of the features of his working manner, technical structure of the works, the materials used, together with art expertise, make it possible to determine the characteristic features of a given author. Such a determination considerably facilitates further research over a broad selection of works attributed to the artist. The awareness of these features may also play a complementary role in terms of completing the knowledge of a given epoch or a region. This is why they are crucial not only to the restorers, but also to art historians and culture researchers.
4Nicolai Christian Friis (born in 1712 in Lille Fosen, present Kristiansund, died in 1777 in Bergen) became a representative of the Danish College of Missions in Trondheim in 1743. His entire activity was connected to the region of Nordland. As early as during his studies in Copenhagen he managed to make many influential friends. As a young priest he was driven by personal ambitions. In 1744 he became a parish priest in Bodø, and in 1746 he took the position of a treasurer and the head of Mission for the districts of Nordland and Finnmark. In 1754 he bought the title of a bishop which increasingly marked his patronage from then onwards: „Nicolai Christian Friis, pastor primarius Bodøensis, Biscop, consistorial-assessor, vicarius og questor for den nordlandske mission”. His responsibility as a treasurer included the maintenance and conservation of the churches in the district. His actions led to uniformity and a restoration on an unprecedented scale. Arbitrary and insubordinate, but he made an enormous contribution to culture and art of the region of Nordland, fulfilling his own mission to disseminate culture. At the same time, Friis had an inclination for the art of the higher classes. This is demonstrated by the fact that he decorated his manor according to the latest European fashion. A preserved register of the bishop parish audits from 1750 reveals that in April that year he went on a journey to Bergen. Gottfried Ezekiel probably was among the craftsmen that he brought from there.
- 1 Ezekiel, [entry in:] SAUR, K. G., Saur Algemeines Künstlerlexikon. Die Bildenden Künstler aller Z (...)
- 2 The difference is due to the old Danish-Norwegian spelling. In the sources, the artist's name is s (...)
- 3 Ezekiel, [entry in:] SAUR, K. G., Saur Algemeines Künstlerlexikon, p. 567.
- 4 EVJENTH, S., Malerrauget i Bergen 1743-1839. En studie over laugsmalernes organisasjon og produk (...)
- 5 ERDAMANN, D., Norsk dekotrativ maling. Fra reformasjonen til romantikken, Oslo, Jacob Dybwads For (...)
5Gottfried Ezekiel1 (date of birth and death – unknown), in all probability born in Konigsberg, also signed as Gottfrid Ezechiel2 (one of the painter's signatures on the pulpit of the church in Bodin) (ill. 1). He probably received his education in Konigsberg, in East Prussia3. The painter emigrated to Norway in the years 1743–44 and settled down in Bergen. The reason for his emigration is not obvious – it might have been a guild journey or a quest for employment. The artist initially worked as a guild painter being an apprentice of Henrich Stalling. His name appears in the guild register of the painters of Bergen since 1743 to 1770.4. In Bergen, in the 50s and 60s of the 18th century, the references to the painter's works were rather a common occurrence, but they did not always regard the works of paintings of the guild. Ezekiel became 'the chief master' for the period of 2 years (1758-1760). However the records say that in this time he not frequented often in Bergen. In May of 1756 he writes that he is 'in the north of Norway'. Works from the Bergen period are not known. It is certain that in the years 1753–1756 he worked as a painter and a decorator in the Nordland district under the patronage of bishop Friis. Decorations from other churches, including the ones in Gildeskol, Beiran, Saltdal, Nesna and Flakstad5 are also ascribed to him. A Lexicon of Norwegian Artists mentions that he had a great impact on Norwegian ecclesiastical painting and several imitators, including his apprentice, Povel (Paul) Kolset. After the year 1770 the name of Ezekiel does not appear in the documentation of the painters' guild, nor there is any mention of his death.
- 6 The history of the church in: EILERSTEN, T., Bodin Kirke 750 år, Bodø, Lofotboka folag, 1990.
6Among the objects subject to research in the Bodin church in Bodø are the pulpit and other elements of furnishing, such as the polychrome altar retable and fragments of patronage lodges. The Church of Bodin6 was erected around 1240. In 1894 the medieval part of the church was pulled down and rebuilt in the same style. Today, the church has an interior design of the 17th and 18th centuries. The altar comes from 1670, whereas the pulpit that dates back to 1600 was repainted by Gottfried Ezekiel. The panels feature the depictions of the Four Evangelists, whereas other elements are ornamented with marbling. There is a signature entry of the pulpit in the book held by St. Mark (ill. 1), with a date of 1753/4 next to the signature.
Fig.1 Painter's signature on the pulpit of the Bodin church
A book held by St. Mark. Next to the signature, the date : 1753/4.
Credits: Archive of the conservation workshop in Nordland Kultursenter.
- 7 BRODAHL, J., En nordlansk kirkefyrste. Biskop N. C. Friis, p. 34. The author also traces back the (...)
7In the church of Bodin, Ezekiel also ornamented the retable, repainted the earlier polychromes, the choir door and all the pews. The total cost of the works was calculated at 176 rdl7. Two fragments of patronage lodges finials have been preserved until this day, one with the initials of bishop Friis and the other with two ornamented coats-of-arms (ill. 2).
Fig. 2 Fragments of patronage lodges
Patronage lodges of the Bodin church , ca. 1753/4
Credits: Archive of the conservation workshop in Nordland Kultursenter.
8In 1747 Bishop Friis commenced the construction of a vicarage (Bodin Prestegård) inspired by the architecture of French castles. The parsonage was designed to be built on a rectangular plan, with four long storied wings closing around the courtyard (ill. 3). The interior was richly decorated. Two descriptions of eye-witnesses have been preserved. Thanks to their accounts we know that some of the rooms of the main wing had ornamented walls and ceilings. The decorations that are the subject of this paper had initially been placed in the second corner room adjacent to the large salon, next to the historic Louis Philippe Room.They comprised the interior design of the bishop's corner bedroom. In the years 1893-1896, after the parsonage had been purchased by a school of agriculture, they were entirely taken apart. The canvasses from the bishop's bedroom and some other fragments of other rooms, together with pieces of carpentry, were saved. They were used to decorate the office of a headmaster L. Nilsen. Their exposition in new interiors and restoration was performed by Henrik Bakker in 1899. The contemporary Louis Philippe Room took the name after Louis Philippe of Orleans and his old room, where he temporarily stayed on the premises of the parsonage in Bodin in the summer of 1795.
Fig. 3 Bishop Friis parsonage buildings of approx. 1750. Drawing: Arne Berg
The arrow indicates the bishop’s bedroom. From this room originate the majority of today’s Louis Philippe Room decorations.
Credits: Eilersten, T., Bodin Kirke 750 år, Bodø, Lofotboka folag, 1990, p. 98.
- 8 About evolution of wall-hangings painted on canvas writes RUTH VUILLEUMIER in: ”Zur Technologie ge (...)
9 Wall-hangings painted on canvasses from the Louis Philippe Room are a typical example of this kind of decorations which originally – in the early phase of evolution were inspired by the tapestries and also demonstrate their popular subjects8. Dominant on the Western wall is the Hunting Scene (ill. 4). Horsemen assisted by dogs appear rhythmically on the canvas, attacking a deer and then a boar. On the opposite wall is the Musical Scene – Bakker's secondary arrangement in which he combined a fragment of the decoration with a woman with a fan, dressed in a pink, ample dress, with the depiction of a man wearing a red costume of the period, playing a cello. Above the door a red cartouche with the initial 'N' (from the benefactor's name) was placed between the wing and the violin. To the left of the door there is a narrow strip of canvas with a marbled plinth upon which stands a vase of roses. On the northern wall, on the left, is the Park Scene (ill. 4). It depicts a couple – a man in a red coat and riding breeches holding a hat and a woman in a blue, low-cut dress with a wide skirt. All depictions are enclosed by decorative borders composed of miscellaneous vines, a rocaille, decorative cartouche with a date in the top centre, and even some animals.
Fig. 4 Wall-hangings in the Louis-Philippe Room
The Hunting Scene on the Western wall. On the right – the Park Scene.
Credits: Archive of the conservation workshop in Nordland Kultursenter.
10In the same room there is a decorated wooden ceiling which is an integral part of the original decor (ill. 5). It is composed of six oblong quarters with a uniform green background, divided by red beams running in the east-west direction. On the central axis were placed round medallions depicting generic and allegoric scenes such as the return from hunting, allegory of spring, allegory of summer, grape-gathering as an allegory of autumn, an old man at the fire as an allegory of winter and an idyllic landscape with geese. On both sides symmetric ornaments unfold, with each quarter displaying different patterns. They often refer to the depictions in tondi. The composition of the ceiling was carefully and consistently thought over. All the medallions are consistent in terms of colours and frame-type.
Fig. 5 Wooden ceiling of the Louis-Philippe Room
Photo during the conservation work.
Credits: Jacek Olender.
- 9 A handy USB video-microscope – Delta Optical Smart 2MP equipped with a 250x magnification head. It (...)
11At first non-destructive tests were performed in order to establish the structure of the works and to analyse the painting techniques employed. A thorough analysis with an unaided eye was performed, as well as with the used of magnifying glasses (magnification 2x, 3x and 8x). Additionally, the photographic documentation was carried out including macroscopic photographs of the interesting parts of the paintings in visible light – diffused and raking one. A USB microscope was also in use9.
- 10 The authors of specialist tests: XRF – Adam Cupa, MA, the Department of Painting Technologies an (...)
12More detailed and complex research was conducted on the objects from the Louis Philippe Room. Visual techniques were complemented by fluorescence photography in UV light. The following research procedures, which led to the recognition of the elemental composition of the pigments and binders used10 were performed: microphotography of cross-sections of samples in VIS, UV light and IRC (colour infrared), scanning electron microscopy SEM-EDS, gas-liquid chromatography GLC, infrared spectroscopy FTIR. Additionally, traditional microchemical tests including staining of cross-sections were performed. The research techniques were selected for their relevance in the determination of the technology and the painting technique of examined decorations.
13The figures painted on canvas nailed and stretched on a wooden walls are of a different nature and are much larger that the figures from church ornaments. Probably the painter used different engravings in both cases. Nevertheless, it was possible to capture similarities between them. For that purpose, a tabular summary of the fragments of the artist's works was used (ill. 6). This allowed for analysing the manner of painting the figures, hands, landscapes, animals and ornaments. The composition of the figures was peculiarly static and slightly theatrical. Frozen hand gestures, simplification in the proportion of the figures, flat light and shadow modelling, similarities in simplifying anatomical details. There are analogies in the manner of painting: complexion – easy and plastic brushstrokes; eyes – with large, round and dark pupils, distinct eyebrows and eyelids; mouths – small and heart-shaped; hands – simplified, too rickety, while on other occasion slightly fan-shaped. In the case of animals similarities can be spotted only in the depiction of birds. A bird wing is a recurrent motif. It is painted in the same light and ornamental manner each time with the feathers similarly emphasised.
Fig. 6 Table with the comparison of style of Ezekiel's works
Part 1 - The manner of painting the figures.
Credits: Klaudia Rajmann.
14In the manner of painting the attire, an ease of brushwork and expressive brushstrokes are discernible, and at the same time they are simplified and look as if they were 'flowing'. It is important to note that the artist painted clothes almost entirely in blue and red. Individual fragments of the landscape have similar colour scheme – warm green in the foreground, cold landscape in blue in the background, and warmly shaded sky with billowy clouds. This spatial division is consistently used in all the works. Ornaments are the linking element of all the works under scrutiny. They were painted in a very clean manner, with obvious proficiency and light finishes that testify to an ease with brushwork. The recurrence of ornaments such as acanthus leaves, rocaille, ribbon elements is typical.
15Based on further observations made by non-invasive methods, the ornaments of the patronage lodges were found to have been made on a wooden support covered with a red priming layer. Painting was not complex in this case. They were painted flat after the prior drying of the blue background (ill. 7). The ornaments may have been applied manually without a previous plan (there were no traces of the drawing found) by halftone. The subsequently applied layers were the shadows on the ornaments themselves and the shadows that they cast in the background. What truly testifies to the easiness of work are the layers of the highest lights that were applied in final stages of the work. They were applied with paint that had appropriate consistency, with proper brushes. A similar layout of layers was found in the fragments of the signed pulpit in the lettering of the Evangelists' names.
Fig. 7 Microphotography; technological layers’ of patronage lodges
Photo by a portable USB microscope – Delta Optical Smart 2MP, focus approx. 50x. 1. wooden support, 2. red priming layer, 3. second grey ground, 4. blue paint layer, background.
Credits: Klaudia Rajmann.
- 11 It was visible only in the cross sections of the samples as a warm grey layer on a grey coating. (...)
16The ornaments from the Louis Philippe's Room are characterised by a different technique. The new effect is determined by a different support – they were painted on thickly woven canvases. Their parameters were defined. The manner of sewing the canvas strips 60 cm. wide with a 'behind the needle' stitch resulting in 5mm seams at the back was observed. The joining lines are visible also on the face. With further tests it was revealed there was a white chalk-and-glue priming layer, topped with a second layer of a grey-tinted ground. Next, the artist had to add a monochrome underpainting that delineated the composition of the painting11. The subsequent stage of the painter's work was to apply yellow ochre, red and light pink local colours and halftones on the ornaments. Next, the shadows were painted and the highest lights were marked with impasto. At the surface of the ornament some flame-shaped, early cracks and crocodile-skin cracks were observed (ill. 8). This demonstrates that the author made some technological mistakes – he laid subsequent layers on fresh lower layers, e.g. on a grey priming that had not dried jet.
Fig. 8 Fragments of decorations painted on a canvas – the types ofcracks
Photos by a portable USB microscope – Delta Optical Smart 2MP, focus approx. 50x. Flame-shaped, early cracks on the paint layer on sky, decorativedetail and on the grass in the vicinityof ornaments. Crocodile-skin cracks in the paint layer of the grass.
Credits: Klaudia Rajmann.
17A visual overview concluded that the ceiling boards had a similar shade to the wood from patronage lodges. A thin orange and red priming layer was applied onto the boards (ill. 9, I), followed by a layer of a warm-grey ground (ill. 9, II). Both grounds are visible within small injuries and cracks in the paint layer. The ceiling’s background, with the exception of the places protected earlier, was carefully covered with green paint (ill. 9, III). In the places where early cracks appeared (ill. 9, III’), the artist employed templates in the form of cartons that were glued to or just held against the surface. It transpires through carefully cut out forms and even edges. Besides, the print of green paint indicates that it was applied in a continuous manner without leaving out the places which delineated the composition. Only after the templates had been removed, were the remaining ornaments painted by hand (ill. 9, IV-V). The technology of painting the tondi with allegories, however, was different. Unfortunately, visual observation was not sufficient to examine the subsequent layers it was built of.
Fig. 9 Macro photograph of the ceiling decoration
The manner of painting with using templates. I. thin orange and red priming layer, II. layer of a warm-grey ground, III. green paint of the backgrounds - applied in a continuous manner, III’. impasto early cracks appeared in the places where cartons were attached to the surface, IV. local tone of the ornament, V. the ornaments details.
Credits: Klaudia Rajmann.
18The ornaments under scrutiny had been restored several times. Because of this it was difficult to interpret photographs made in UV light due to the interference of fluorescence of the materials introduced at a later time. At first, multiple traces of secondary interference were spotted. Observations in UV light enabled the primary, ornamental preparation of a woman's dress to be revealed in the Musical Scene, which was difficult to spot in visible light. The general luminescence of the works' surface can be described as cold, blue fluorescence of an oil binder with the addition of white lead. Interestingly enough, the contour of ornament and the inner part of the cartouche with the letter 'N' displayed a strong, yellow fluorescence. A thorough observation enabled the selection of a spot for sampling of this layer. For the ceiling, the analysis of photographs of the UV-induced fluorescence allowed to distinguish between the original green sections of the background with a significantly warmer fluorescence, and the repainted green which reveals itself in the form of patches of intense blue hue. The fluorescence of the secondary layers is intensely blue or lemon-yellow one, the latter indicating the use of zinc white. Sections of the shadows, including early impasto cracks, partially or entirely put out the fluorescence probably due to the addition of earth pigments, containing iron oxides.
19It was important for the research material to be collected only from the original fragments of the decoration, as well as sections which were varied in terms of colouring for an examination of an entire colour range. The study was limited to two fragments of wall decorations – the Music Scene and the Hunting Scene. Samples in the form of the cross-section of the paint layers with the priming as well as powdered painting layer, ground and a tiny crumbs of golden flakes were collected wherever the original layers had been uncovered. Canvas threads were also collected for tests (from a larger number of decoration fragments). The samples were labelled and marked on maps together with coordinates in relation to the painting edges. A total of 21 samples of canvas were collected. Material for the study of paint layers of the ceiling were collected in a similar manner (8 samples). The sampling spots were also marked on maps.
- 12 The tests were carried out by an energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer MiniPal PW 4025. Voltage ran (...)
- 13 The Duracryl® Plus resinby Spofa Dental, and the Estetic S cold polymerisation liquid by Wiedent w (...)
20The analyses were initiated with further tests of the canvas support – determination of the type of sizing and the identification of canvas fibres. Tests with chemical reagents were carried out (phloroglucinol in concentrated hydrochloric acid (1:1), Schweizer's reagent) and a microscopic observation of monofilaments. In order to make an analysis of the ground composition and the pigments, the samples were handed over for XRF tests on an energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer12. On the basis of the obtained chromatograms, the elements that constituted each of the samples were determined, which facilitated identification of the pigments present. The results were noted down in the summary table for the tests of a given sample. Most of the XRF tested samples were used to prepare cross-sections by embedding them in a self-polymerising acrylic material13. The sections were analysed with a biological microscope in artificial light, with the use of standard VIS microscopy, compared with fluorescent UV microscopy. A set of microscopic photographs of all the embedded samples were taken. The examination of cross-sections in UV/VIS enabled the determination of stratigraphy of the works, as well as the determination of features of each paint layer, and preliminary identification of pigments and binder (ill. 10,11).
Fig. 10 Cross section sample N° 6 from the Music Scene, blue of the sky, the background colour
Micrographs in the VIS, UV and IRC, magnification x 100. 1. white ground layer, 2. glue insulation, 3. grey oil second ground layer, 4. blue paint layer. Cross section analyze in the technique of 'false colours': The visible colour change of the blue paint layer to violet, which allows it to be identified as Prussian blue.
Credits: Klaudia Rajmann, Adam Cupa.
Fig. 11 Sample N° 6 from the ceiling - the Allegory of Spring, red, halftone from the ornament
Micrographs in the VIS and UV, magnification x50 and x40. 1. wooden support, 2. red priming layer, 3. warm-grey second ground layer, 4. green paint layer of the background, 5. red halftone of the ornament, 6. impasto layer of the ornaments detail.
Credits: Klaudia Rajmann
- 14 The SEM imagining was performed with a scanning electron microscope LEO 1430VP, made by LEO Electr (...)
- 15 Analyses were performed under the guidance of M.A. Adam Cupa, along with NCU professor Jarosław Ro (...)
21The remainder of the instrumental tests of the elemental composition of selected samples, particularly the distribution of elements in individual layers, were performed by an energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis with the use of an electron microprobe (SEM-EDS)14. Additional information on the pigments contained in the samples were provided by the photographs of selected sections in near infrared (NIR) analyzed in the technique of 'false colours' (ill. 10). It enabled a comparison of the photographs in VIS light with the images obtained in the technique of colour infrared and the models of the pigments tested with that method15.
- 16 The test was performed on the HP6890 gas chromatograph with the HP5 30m*0,32mm*0,25um capillary c (...)
- 17 The Thermo Scientific Nicolet iS10 spectrometer, with the ATR technique, with ZnSe crystals, for (...)
22The remainder of the testing material were used for the microchemical tests of the binders and pigments. An identification of the binder in the priming and paint layers was made with the microchemical reactions typical for proteins and oils. Some of the reactions, which consisted in staining or saponification of the layers with chemical reagents (e.g. Sudan black, phloroglucinol, NaOH), were performed on some of the cross-sections. A detailed pigment analysis was made possible by microchemical analysis of prepared samples of the ground and paint layers. Identification of the entire painting palette was attempted. Identifying some pigments was difficult due to their small amount in the layers under examination. Detailed information on the composition of the binder in each layer was provided by the gas chromatography test (GLC)16, as well as Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)17. These methods allowed to dispel all the doubts regarding some of the pigments and binders (chiefly organic). Simultaneously, ceiling samples were being analysed. Most of them were subject to the same testing methods.
23The results obtained for each sample are shown in the tables. They were compared with the results of the tests performed earlier. The collected information enabled an interpretation of the manner in which the paintings on canvases and ceiling in Louis Philippe Room were made, thus providing knowledge on the author's painting techniques. The author's colour range together with the manner of paint application and shaping of each fragment of the composition were determined. Chemical composition of individual components of the works, including the support, priming layers, paints, binders and pigments, was determined on the basis of the compilation of instrumental tests against microchemical tests. As a result, a database of the studied Ezekiel's works techniques was created. On account of the extensiveness of the results obtained, the present paper will only demonstrate the most important of them.
- 18 Dendrological examinations to determine wood species were not performed. A preliminary cross-sect (...)
24On wooden support the artist applied a layer of red-tinted glue insulation on18 which partly penetrated the texture of wood, creating a thin coat (ill. 7,11). This layer simultaneously plays the role of a thin ground. Fillers: CaCO3 chalk, two reds: minium Pb3O4 and iron oxide Fe2O3, together with black (of vegetable origin?). The ceiling has a layer of warm-grey ground which plays a brightening role. It is chiefly composed of white lead Pb3(CO3)2(OH)2 and such additions as calcium carbonite with the admixture of magnesium clays, gypsum CaSO4•2H2O, black (most probably soot). The presence of white bole was not confirmed, although the composition of this layer (C, Pb, Ca, S, Mg, Al, (Si)) could indicate the presence of kaolinite or aluminium silicate (Al2O3SiO2•2H2O) which usually contains about 1% of Mg, Ca and Fe admixtures (ill. 11, layer 3). The binder for this layer contains casein with the addition of linseed oil, so it has been identified as casein distemper. Depending on the layers, linseed oil was used as a binder for coloured parts, with an occasional addition of a protein binder (probably casein). Its presence is suggested by the presence of amide compounds in the sample. The green layer, in impastos – which cracked already at the stage of drying, on the other hand, contained merely oil binder. Fragments of the patronage lodges contain the same light grey layer. Their composition was not examined.
25Among the white pigments on the ceiling, white lead Pb3(CO3)2(OH)2 and chalk CaCO3 with the admixture of magnesium clays (white bole?) and gypsum were found. In all likelihood, the last two components were added to the pigments as fillers. The red pigments that were recognised during the tests included: minium Pb3O4, iron oxide Fe2O3 and cinnabar HgS. Among the blues were particles of Prussian blue Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3. The only green whose presence were confirmed is the green earth pigment, which consists of hydrated aluminium silicates: iron (II), iron (III), magnesium and potassium. The browns that were detected in the collected samples included umber, iron oxides (III) Fe2O3 with the admixture of aluminium silicates, quartz, calcium carbonate and manganese oxide MnO2, as well as other iron browns, such as burnt sienna. The identified black pigments were defined as vegetable black (with admixtures of calcium and potassium) due to the presence of large particles, some of which retained the plant structure. Tiny particles of soot was not detected in the mixtures but it may be assumed that it was also used (lamp black?).
26Wall decorations were painted on canvases with plain weave. Average canvas parameters that were similar for all fragments are: thread direction for the weft and the warp – ‘Z’, average density 10 threads in the warp and 7 threads in the weft. The weft and the warp in all examined fragments of the decoration were composed of linen fibres, similarly to the thread used to sew together the stripes of the canvas. Canvas sizing of animal glue was identified. Calcium carbonates were used as fillers for the white layer of ground. The SEM-EDS examinations indicated the presence of Ca and C, and a small amount of S. However, the admixture of gypsum CaSO4•2H2O was not detected. Microscopic observation of the pigment grains constituting the ground indicated the presence of chalk and marble dust (thick crystalline grains are visible on the cross-sections next to oval forms and rods) (ill. 10). An insulating layer of animal glue was applied on top of the priming layer. The second greasy oil ground based on white lead has a grey shade. Among its fillers were calcium carbonate (chalk or marble dust) and black (probably of vegetable origin).
- 19 In the 'method of false colours' the samples that contained Prussian blue changed its hue towards (...)
27The linseed oil was the binder of the paint layer. The FTIR tests did not reveal any other binder components. The early crack samples tests with GLC method revealed a possible presence of casein distemper which would explain the reason for the appearance of the cracks (the use of thinner paint on greasy and fresh grey layer of ground). The range of pigments used on the canvas were slightly wider. All the pigments from the ceiling were used. Additionally, iron oxides of varying shades, from intense reds, through English red to bright, pinkish varieties, were also employed. Besides, one of the mixtures included an organic madder lake. Analysis of the sample collected from the cartouche, from the spot with an interesting fluorescence, enabled the identification of organic yellow, possibly yellow lakes deposited on the mixture of chalk, aluminium silicates Si–O–Al (FTIR analysis results) and white lead (microchemical analysis). The artist made extensive applications of Prussian blue Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3 and organic indigo blue C16H10N2O2. Microscopic analysis in colour infrared (IRC)19 proved to be particularly helpful here (ill. 10). Ezekiel did not use ultramarine, and the collected samples only contained it in the repainted layer. The samples also contained bone black which contains about 10% of coal, about 84% of calcium phosphate Ca3(PO4)2 and about 6% of calcium carbonate. Additionally, the painter used leafs of Schlag Metal (gold-leaf imitation of copper and zinc alloy of variable composition: from 95% of Cu and 5% of Zn to 80% of Cu and 20% of Zn, sometimes with an addition of Sn). Besides, in repainted areas on both objects the presence of barium white BaSO4 and zinc white ZnO (or lithopone, which contains both pigments) were identified together with ultramarine.
28The painting of copies was based on the knowledge acquired from the previous research. The intention of a practical reconstruction of the phases of creation of the works was to visualise the recognised technological layers and the artist's working system.The first copies were made for the purpose of comparing the ornaments from the furnishing of the Bodin church (the fragments of patronage lodges and the pulpit) with the ornaments on canvases of the Louis Philippe Room as the most characteristic features of Gottfried Ezekiel's creative output.
- 20 At this stage, due to the lack of accurate data on the composition of the original grey layer of g (...)
29For the purpose of better organisation of work, putting the research results in order and avoiding mistakes, first the project of summarising the selected fragments of the artist's works was prepared (ill. 12). Next, painting materials were prepared with the methods that were as close to historic ones as possible. Steamed linen canvas was fixed to the stretcher measuring 21 x 130 cm. The canvas was sized with a layer of 7% animal glue. Then a white ground was prepared: Bolognese chalk was sieved into a jar with 10% animal glue. And finally a tee-spoonful of natural Norwegian honey was added as a plasticiser. A grey ground was prepared using a glue solution of slightly weaker concentration. Then, to reduce its absorbency it was necessary to insulate it with a layer of 4% glue20. The oil colours were also self-made by mixing the pigments with linseed oil and a slight admixture of oil varnish. The pigments were ground on ceramic tiles with a glass muller until the desired consistency was achieved (ill. 15!). The following colours were thus prepared: white lead, yellow ochre, green earth, natural and burnt umber, English red, artificial ultramarine, caput mortuum, bone black. Those pigments which Ezekiel could not have used were eliminated from the palette.
Fig. 12 Copies
Selected fragments of decorations painted on canvas from the Louis Philippe Room and from the patronage lodges from Bodin church.
Credits: Klaudia Rajmann.
- 21 Casein was prepared with 100g of low-fat finely sieved quark and dissolved with a small amount of (...)
30As part of the MA Thesis, the copies were made for the purpose of artistic-technological study. With the help of these copies one could trace the phases of the creation of wall coverings and painted decorations of the ceiling in the same room. Although different in technique, they dated back to the same period and were made by the hand of the same artist. The decorations were originally located in the same room. While preparing the copies, the faithfulness to the used materials was not as important as the fidelity to the original way of making. For the copies of the selected canvas fragments, it was the oil technique, whereas the fragments of the ceiling were reconstructed with the use of a mixed technique (oil and casein distemper)21. Attempts were made to analyse the manner of applying each of the layers and the manner of preparation of the paint layer, to follow the brushwork, to analyse the artistic means and templates used, as well as to analyse the colouring in the works. The selection of fragments that were used for making the copies was determined by the possibility to analyse the manner of painting human figures, landscape and ornaments. The ceiling copies included the ornaments that were analogical to those found on the canvases.
31The results of all conducted tests provided a detailed description of Ezekiel's working techniques. The methods of preparing the supports, making a drawing and execution of a proper painting were analysed and compared. It is worth noting that the study on the artist's manner of working was of an interdisciplinary nature. It included stylistic comparisons, visual analyses, chemical tests ant the preparation of copies of the master’s works.
- 22 Prussian blue was first produced in Berlin in 1704, but did not become popular in Europe until 175 (...)
32In the case of Ezekiel's works on wooden support the layout of technological layers is analogical. The painter used the same red insulation and a layer of grey ground. The comparison of the painting materials used is also significant. Binders and pigments for the ceiling ornamentation and the wall-coverings painted on canvases are similar. The range of basic pigments is repeatable. It was as early as in the 1750s when Gottfried Ezekiel had Prussian blue on his palette22. A much richer palette of colours used for painting the wall-coverings on canvas may mean that much greater financial resources were earmarked for this particular commission. The fact that Ezekiel prepared a monochromatic drawing of the composition proves his artistic competence and thorough knowledge of painting techniques. However, the painter made minor mistakes which were probably an effect of rushing with his work over large surfaces of the canvas and ceiling decorations. A repeated use of casein tempera on canvas and on the ceiling led to the occurrence of early cracks.
33However, the similarities in the works which had different functions and character, made on different supports are chiefly visible in the manner of painting. It is characteristic of Ezekiel to simplify figures and landscapes, and use his entire artistic powers to paint ornaments. Typical of Ezekiel is a free and proficient brushwork and the finishing by bright spots. All of the analysed works share the same proficiency of ornamental embellishing which is difficult to imitate.
34Unfortunately, the reported study fell short of a pigment composition analysis and a more accurate stratigraphy of the pulpit and patronage lodges in the Bodin church. A possibility to collect samples from those objects, or other works ascribed to the artist, would provide a great opportunity to complement the studies over his working manner. It would also enable a confirmation of the veracity of the works attributed to him.