Stained glass from the Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal: history and characterization.

Márcia Vilarigues*
Dep. de Conservação e Restauro, FCT-UNL
Joana Delgado & Pedro Redol

In 2009 a set of stained glass fragments was found in the Charola of Convento de Cristo, Tomar. This collection is now being studied in the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa and in the Research Unit “Glass and Ceramics for Art” (Vicarte). The latest discoveries have revealed that a large integrated program including stained glass, mural painting and sculpture was executed for the Convento de Cristo in the period of D. Manuel I. The fragments, dated from around 1510-1515, exhibit a high quality artistic technique and have significantly broadened the vision of stained glass production in Portugal. The set consists of 400 small fragments: some architectural elements, similar to those observed in the architecture of the convent itself, a landscape painted in grisaille and silver stainon deep blue glass and a face. These fragments are being analyzed by the non-destructive techniques X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, UV spectroscopy and μ-PIXE (Particle Induced X-ray Emission) in order to characterize glass composition, their different colors, production technique of the glass sheet (one layer or two layers glass) and decoration elements, such as grisaille painting and silver staining.

Márcia Vilarigues is a professor at the Conservation Department of Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia-Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT-UNL), where she teaches Glass Science and Technology and Analytical Techniques for Art and Archaeology. She is also a researcher at the Research Unit Vicarte Glass and Ceramics for the Arts). She finished her PhD in 2008 in Conservation Sciences at the Conservation Department of FCTUNL on the subject of stained glass corrosion under the supervision of Professor Rui Silva and Professor António Pires de Matos. She graduated in Physics also at FCT-UNL and did her Masters in Surface Science and Technology at the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa. During her Masters and PhD she worked with several characterization techniques, such us x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, ion beam analysis, UV-Vis absorption, Fouriertransform infrared spectrometry and Raman spectrometry. Since 2001 she has been working on the characterization of
historical materials, mainly of the glass collections that are in Portuguese museums and archaeological collections.