What is the origin of the black film in the sculpture “Death of Cleopatra”?


  • Pedro Azevedo Departamento de Conservação e Restauro, Fac. de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal
  • Maria Filomena Macedo Departamento de Conservação e Restauro, Fac. de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal; VICARTE, Unidade de investigação Vidro e Cerâmica para as Artes, Fac. de Ciências e Tecnologia U. Nova de Lisboa, Campus da Caparica, 2829-529 Caparica, Portugal https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4366-4192
  • Amélia Dionísio CERENA, Centro de Recursos Naturais e Ambiente, Instituto Superior Técnico, U. de Lisboa, Avenida Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8016-4029




Death of Cleopatra, Carrara marble, Black film, Sooty Mould, Biocorrosion


This work arises from the need to identify the origin of a black film which is currently covering a large area of the sculpture Death of Cleopatra, promoting its disfiguration. This piece, sculpted in Carrara marble, belongs to Tropical Botanic Garden, in Lisbon. In situ works involved colorimetric measurements, adhesion tests and mapping of decay patterns. Samples of the black film were taken from the sculpture and also from black areas present in botanic species surrounding the sculpture, which were observed macro and microscopically. Individual samples of the black film were analysed by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. The results obtained show the collected samples possess saccharides such as sucrose, found in honeydew exemplars. Therefore, it is proposed that black film formation is due to sooty mould. This black film is responsible for aesthetic damage, as well as stone corrosion processes, which was observed by scanning electron microscopy.


Received: 2018-10-31
Revised: 2019-1-11
Accepted: 2019-1-13
Online: 2019-3-25
Publication: 2019-11-6


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How to Cite

Azevedo, P., Macedo, M. F., & Dionísio, A. (2019). What is the origin of the black film in the sculpture “Death of Cleopatra”?. Conservar Património, 32, 50–64. https://doi.org/10.14568/cp2018047




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