Mortars and treatments in the restoration of the Altarpiece of the High Altar of the Pilar Basilica
The altarpiece of the Assumption of Mary is located in the High Altar of the Pilar Basilica in Zaragoza and is one of the most important works of the Spanish Artistic Heritage. The work, sculptured in alabaster, was carried out between 1509 and 1518 by Damián Forment. The present paper covers the guidelines for the design of repair mortars used to restore the altarpiece. They are based on compatibility criteria with the existing materials and treatments in the altarpiece, according to research carried out during the recent works of cleaning and restoration. During the previous research, the composition of the original mortars was tested, the aggregate granulometry, and the composition of the organic additives used. The patina of the altarpiece was also analyzed and identified. The original mortars were made up of a mixture of gypsum and lime with the addition of oil or fats. In many cases various types of fibre were detected in the mortar, used to improve its mechanical characteristics. The repair mortars were designed with a composition similar to the originals, with a mixture of gypsum and lime, and their compatibility with the alabaster was studied, while also optimizing the granulometry of the aggregates used.
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