Synchrotron micro-XRF with Compound Refractive Lenses (CRLs) for tracing key elements on Portuguese glazed ceramics
Several glazed ceramic fragments (XVIth to XVIIIth centuries) from two production centers in Portugal (Coimbra and Lisbon) were the object of this study. The ones from Coimbra comprise two sets of samples: faiences and tiles. The ones from Lisbon are only tiles (azulejos, in Portuguese). The three main divisions of such pieces are the ceramic support (body), glaze and surface decoration. The system decoration/glaze is not easy to investigate, due to the high heterogeneity resulting from the mixing procedures and firing temperatures used. Moreover, the ability of the pigment to diffuse into the base glaze varies depending on the composition of both the pigment and the glaze in terms of fusibility. In order to raster these effects, high resolution techniques are required. In this work, synchrotron micro-X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) analysis was performed to monitor the profiles of the characteristic elements from the colors used and the glaze in well prepared cross-sections of the samples. Key elements are: Co for blue, Mn for purple, Cu for green, Sb for yellow, Pb for the glaze and Fe for the body. The major difference observed is that faiences have glaze thicknesses between 150 and 200 μm and tiles have glaze thicknesses between 350 and 400 μm. Furthermore, in faiences all the pigments except the yellow ones are well dispersed into the glassy matrix, while in tiles, all of them are just partially diffused throughout the glaze. However, differences between the tiles from Coimbra and Lisbon were observed. In the samples from Lisbon, a higher intake from the pigment throughout the glaze is observed.