Materiales de Construcción, Vol 60, No 297 (2010)

Seville City Hall Chapter Room ceiling decoration

Durán A.
Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Sevilla (CSIC-Universidad de Sevilla). European Radiation Synchrotron Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, Spain

M. D. Robador
Universidad de Sevilla, Spain

M. C. Jiménez de Haro
Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Sevilla (CSIC-Universidad de Sevilla), Spain

L. K. Herrera
Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Sevilla (CSIC-Universidad de Sevilla), Spain

P. Gimena
Universidad de Sevilla, Spain

J. L. Pérez-Rodríguez
Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Sevilla (CSIC-Universidad de Sevilla), Spain


The present article describes a chemical and physical study of the colour, chemical composition and mineral phases of the decorative materials in the Seville City Hall Chapter House ceiling. The findings showed that the inner most layer of material, calcite, was covered with white lead, in turn concealed under a layer of gilded bole. The ceiling underwent re-gilding, also over bole, due in all likelihood to wear on the original gold leaf. In the nineteenth century, the entire ceiling with the exception of the inscriptions was whitewashed with calcite and white lead. Silver was employed on King John I’s sword (coffer 27). Gold leaf was used to adorn the royal attributes: crowns, belts, sceptres, swords and rosary beads. The high reliefs were likewise gilded. The pigments identified on the ceiling adornments included azurite, malachite, vermilion and gas black. A lime and ground dolomite mortar was used throughout.


gilding; pigments; stone; mortar; colour

Full Text:



(1) Ortiz de Zúñiga, D.: Anales eclesiásticos de Sevilla (1677), t. IV, Madrid (1795), p. 73.

(2) Camon Aznar, J.: La arquitectura Plateresca, Madrid (1945), p. 150.

(3) Morales Martínez, A.: La obra renacentista del Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, Sevilla (1981), p. 225.

(4) Khandekar, N.: “Preparation of cross sections from easel paintings”. Reviews in conservation, 4 (2003), pp. 52-64.

(5) Wachowiak, M. J.: “Efficient new methods for embedding paint and varnish samples for microscopy”. JAIC 43 (2004), pp. 205-226.

(6) Herrera, L. K.; Cotte, M.; Jiménez de Haro, M. C.; Durán, A.; Justo, A.; Pérez-Rodríguez, J. L.: “Characterization of iron-oxide based pigments by synchrotron based micro X-ray diffraction”. Applied Clay Science 42 (1-2) (2008), pp. 57-62. doi:10.1016/j.clay.2008.01.021

(7) Gettens, R. J. and Stout, G. L.: “Painting Materials”. Dover Publications, Inc., New York (1966), p. 333.

(8) Albella, J. M.; Cintas, A. M.; Miranda, T. y Serratosa, J. M.: “Introducción a la Ciencia de los Materiales”, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (1993), p. 749.

(9) Plesters, J.: “Cross-sections and chemical analysis of paint samples”. Studies in conservation, 2 (1956), pp. 110-157. doi:10.2307/1505000

(10) Plesters, J.: “The preparation and study of paint cross-sections”. The Museums Journal, 54 (4) (1954), pp. 97-101.

(11) Schreiner, M.; Frühman, B.; Jembrih-Simbürger, D. y Linke, R.: “X-rays in art and archaeology: an overview”. Powder Diffraction, 19 (1) (2004), pp. 3-11. doi:10.1154/1.1649963

(12) Brindley, G. W. and Brown, G.: “Crystal Structures of clay minerals and their X-Ray Identification”. Mineralogical Society Monograph, nº 5 (1980), pp. 495-502.

(13) Alonso, M. L.: “Métodos instrumentales de análisis. Aplicación de la microscopia electrónica de barrido en el estudio de materiales inorgánicos”. Técnicas de Diagnóstico aplicadas a la conservación de los bienes muebles, IAPH Sevilla (1996), pp. 135-142.

(14) Baker, M. T. and Von Endt, D. W.: “Use of FTIR microspectrometry in examination of artistic and historic works”. Materials Research Society, V Bol. 123 (1988), pp. 71-76.

(15) Casadio, F. and Toniolo, L.: “The analysis of polychrome works of art: 40 years of infrared spectroscopic investigations”. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 2 (2001), pp. 71-78. doi:10.1016/S1296-2074(01)01107-4

(16) Farmer, V. C.: “The Infrared Spectra of Minerals”. Mineralogical Society, monograph 4 (1974), 539-600.

(17) Robador, M. D.: “Tradición y actualización en la protección de la arquitectura de piedra con finas capas de mortero de cal”. RE nº 31-32, Escuela de Arquitectura, Universidad de Navarra (2002), p. 250.


(19) Pérez-Rodríguez, J. L.; Maqueda, C.; Justo, A.; Morillo, E.; Jiménez de Haro, M. C.: “Characterization of decayed ceramic sculptures decorating the Pardon portico of Seville cathedral, Spain”. Applied Clay Science 9 (1994), pp. 211-223. doi:10.1016/0169-1317(94)90021-3

(20) Durán, A.; Pérez-Rodríguez, J. L.; Jiménez de Haro, M. C.; Herrera, L. K.; Justo, A.: “Degradation of gold and false golds used as gildings in the cultural Heritage of Andalusia, Spain”. Journal of Cultural Heritage 9 (2008), pp. 184-188. doi:10.1016/j.culher.2007.10.005

(21) Durán, A.; Herrera, L. K.; Robador, M. D.; Pérez-Rodríguez, J. L.: “Color Study of Mudejar Paintings of the pond found in the Palace of Reales Alcazares in Seville”. Color Research and Application, vol. 32 (2007), Issue 6, pp. 489-495.

(22) Espejo Arias, T.; López-Montes, A.; García-Bueno, A.; Durán-Benito, A.; Blanc-García, R.: “A study about colourants in the Arabic manuscript Collection of the Sacromonte Abbey, Granada, Spain”. Restaurator 29 (2) (2008), pp. 76-106. doi:10.1515/rest.2008.005

Copyright (c) 2010 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support