THE REBIRTH OF THE MADONNA DELLA CINTOLA

When the Madonna della Cintola arrived in the hands of the restorers and scholars at the Vatican, it not only stood out thanks to its immense size, but the work introduced quite an imposing task for the team in the upcoming years. It was originally discovered in the nineteenth century, then left abandoned in the Lateran depository. The painting was seized by decades of water damage and ambient conditions that undermined both the structural integrity of its wooden supports and the pictorial surface. Layers of color had fallen off to the point of revealing the naked canvas preparation and even the wood backing itself. Heavy coats of varnish applied over the years presented a real dilemma regarding how to identify the accurate materials to clean it and a proper plan of execution. Its state of disintegration also required creative research approaches in order to authenticate the author and geographical origin of the piece, which would influence restoration procedures.

 

Before Restoration

When faced with the task of finding the right tactic to revive the painting—to bring it literally from the grave to a rebirth—restorer Marco Pratelli considered it a “true challenge…and an act of faith.”

Restorer, Marco Pratelli

And so began the process of rejuvenation. The team embarked on a six-year endeavor to elicit forth the visages of the saints, during which a complexity of scientific and historical-artistic studies were conducted behind the scenes. Dr. Adele Breda was the scholar of the work, and Professor U. Santamari and Dr. F. Morresi organized the scientific diagnostics. Marco Pratelli carried out the painting restoration with collaboration from M. Alesi for interventions with the wooden supports.

This team of workers put themselves in the middle of a project that was, indeed, a great act of faith. Countless hours were spent making the image more recognizable, and rehabilitating its framework. Ironically, in this remediation process, the four saints whose likenesses were being restored were themselves dedicated to the conversion and healing of others.

Saint Thomas in particular had abandoned his life to evangelizing the people of India, was therefore absent during the Assumption, giving rise to the legend depicted in the Madonna della Cintola. According to an ancient narrative, the Apostles were miraculously brought to Jerusalem to participate in witnessing the virgin mother Mary’s death. Poor St. Thomas who also missed the Resurrection was late again for this event! A few days later when he finally arrived and wished to venerate her body, the Apostles found the tomb was empty. There are different variations of the story, sometimes saying flowers and a sweet fragrance emanated from the sarcophagus. Of more interest in this case is the tradition of Mary gifting Her belt, or cintola, to the saint who expressed great belief and devotion to the Virgin Mary. Perhaps knowing his proclivity to doubt, the Virgin may have removed her belt as an everlasting sign of the Assumption, in the same way Christ invited St. Thomas to put his finger in His wound. But most probably Mary bestowed the belt to Thomas as a reward for his faith.

Detail, Before Restoration

Many unknowns shroud this painting, among them being the motive for illustrating the particular group of saints along with St. Thomas. One could hypothesize that the person who commissioned the painting had a particular devotion to these four. There does, however, exist a commonality of each saint being graced such that their legacy involved a Holy presence made physically manifest during their lives of faith. For Thomas, it was his reception of the Virgin’s belt. To the right of Thomas, we see San Rocco, who had a steadfast sympathy for the poor and the sick, to whom he devoted his life of healing. Often when he would make the sign of the cross over those who suffered, they were miraculously cured; his vocation literally indicated by a birthmark in the form a red cross marked on his breast. Saint Catherine of Alexandria, while she is well recognized for her eloquence and grace in converting pagan philosophers, it is lesser known of her own quest for conversion. When her desire to unite her heart to the Lord was so strong, He blessed her faith in the form of a physical wedding band, which she wore until death. In the case of St. Bartholomew, who holds the knife in the painting, it was his own holy relics that were incapable of being destroyed. Although the Persians threw his coffin into the Black Sea during their siege of Mesopotamia, 250 years later in the 9th century, it was found on the coast of Lipari, where the faithful were once again found to venerate and be healed by his relics.

Not unlike those healed and strengthened by these saints, the restorers at the Vatican practically worked a miracle to bring back the Madonna della Cintola to life. The precarious and illegible state of the work required much patience, experimentation, innovative materials, and the use of new applications such as enzymes and bacteria for biological cleaning.

Detail, After Restoration

Structurally, the original containment system did not support the work but rather restricted the natural movement of the wood, creating significant cracking and splitting. New carbon fiber crosspiece supports were created for the work to provide paths for natural “breathing” of the wood. Wooden “axis” were then fixed to the supports and laid at appropriately calibrated springs to ensure a correct weight distribution for the massive work.

 

Reintegrating the image of the Cintola necessitated a delicate workmanship. Though the exact origin of the piece still remains unknown, the restoration process allowed scholars to attribute the painting to the workshop of artist Pagani. In this early 16th century work, Pratelli consulted prototypes and images from Pagani’s bottega as references. Where color was missing, he used a stippled watercolor effect with a tonality slightly less chromatic than the original, eventually rendering the piece readable.

Thanks to the compassion and determination of the restoration team, and the generosity of the Texas Patrons, this labor of love resulted in quite a transfiguration. A piece arrived in a tortured state and was nursed back to health. The Madonna della Cintola is one painting that bears witness to the power of faith.

After Restoration

 

To learn more about this painting’s cameo appearance in the Pinacoteca of the Vatican Museums, click here:

http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/it/eventi-e-novita/iniziative/Eventi/2017/museums-at-work-pagani.html

Following this link you will be able to download the PDF of our 2017 Summer Newsletter

Patrons Newsletter July 2017 (2)

 

NW Chapter visit: 5th-8th October

As we begin to anticipate the arrival of autumn, so too are we preparing for visits from our Chapters, the first of which is the Northwest. The group will begin their “Grand Art Tour of Venice and Rome” in the floating city of canals and bridges, complete with a tour of the Biennale and a private Mass in the crypt of St. Mark’s Basilica celebrated by Father Kevin.

After their sojourn in Venice, they will be joining us in Rome, kicking off their time with aMuseums tour and a grand evening in the Gallery of Busts and Statues. This will be preceded by Mass celebrated by Cardinal Bertello in the Vatican Governatorato Church of Santa Maria Regina della Famiglia. Their experience in the Vatican will also include visiting restoration labs, privately touring the Gardens, and even a special lecture on the Transfiguration in

the Raphael Room of the Pinacoteca from Fr. Dalton of the Legionaries of Christ. Above all, the Northwest Chapter’s time in the Museums will be a celebration of their successes in restoring a variety of projects. They will celebrate the unveiling of the newly restored Hermes, attended by Vatican Museums Director Dr Barbara Jatta. A particular highlight will be the commemoration of the newly restored Sphere within a Sphere, their newest restoration undertaking, wherein its conservation will be dedicated to the late Thomas James Jr., former Co-chair and Founder of the Northwest Patrons Chapter.

 

 

A. Pomodoro, Sfera con sfera, bronzo, 1990, Musei Vaticani, Cortile della Pigna

 

Hermes – the most recent restoration completed by the Northwest Chapter

 

 

Garden Mixologists

 

The end of summer brings memories of sunshine-filled road trips, beach trips, and maybe even good food and refreshing cocktail enjoyed during the vacation. In the case of the latter, combining the right ingredients might even offer a sensory stimulation, enhancing the aesthetic experience of where the beverage is sipped.

Decorative element in the section Zitella after treatment process

Thanks to mixologists, traditional toasts are savored and classics are reimaged to create combinations to stimulate the palette. Did you know that some of the most skilled and savvy mixologists work in the Vatican Gardens? The restorers actually refer to themselves as such in jest. The difference, however, is that the cocktails that are whipped up in the Vatican Gardens are not for human consumption. Rather, the cocktails do the consuming.

Decorative element in the section Zitella before treatment process

To remove the dirt, moss, oils and varnishes from the statues and monuments in the Vatican Gardens, the restoration team is utilizing a type of a technique called in-situ bioremediation. This simply means that the undesired materials are treated and cleaned, or remediated, by biological, naturally occurring substances. All of this happens where the object in the garden currently resides, or in-situ.

Decorative elements in the section Madonna of the Guard before, during and after treatment process

From its flowers to stone figures dispersed throughout the area, the evolution of the Vatican Gardens dates back to late 13th century, and its cultivation is still continuous. After Pope Nicolas II commenced the initial planting in the Vatican hills, the area grew and changed under various pontificates and architects. Although the French invasion in 1798 eradicated a major portion of the Gardens, the 19th century witnessed a great nurturing of the area, with not only flora, but also arrangement of marble sculptures, fountains, pieces of ancient monuments. The gardens were home of more changes after the Vatican City State was recognized as an independent state with the concordat of the 1929 Lateran Treaty. The reconstruction and revamping involved more sculptural additions. The objects and embellishments that have stood the test of time in the garden, however, also bear the vestige of times past. In other words, they need a good cleaning.

And this spurred a very good idea. Why not use natural things to preserve nature?

Plant oils and extracts have been known to have antimicrobial responses for years. Essential oils have significant inhibitory effects against a spectrum of bacteria, fungi, and other biological microorganisms. What this means, in short, is that fennel, clove, cinnamon, or juniper berry oil may not be just for flavoring drinks, and bergamot, lavender or rosewood may not be relegated to perfumery. With the correct ratio and “flavor” combinations, putting certain oils together—even in low, diluted concentrations—can result in being just the right “stain-buster” to eliminate the moss off of a marble plaque or bacterial residue off of a fountain.

Although the Vatican is not the first to use natural ingredients to clean, they are innovative in their techniques and employing essential oils for art restoration purposes. Pure oils are always used and analyzed first, to determine which might be more efficient in combatting fungi, another for algae. The most potent is decided based on a series of four tests and how they differ before and after treatment. On the selected “swatch,” the restorers will measure the color spectrum, the bioluminescence of the surface, the amount of residual fungi using fungi tape, and also use transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to analyze the outcome of using each essential oil. These results, in turn, help the team come up with the right recipe for their “cocktails” to clean each piece in the garden.

Marble surface with various test swatches treated with different essential oils in varying concentrations

The gardens were divided into sections to better care for and catalogue the pieces, and the restoration effort started with a pilot project to test the potency and security of the material(s) used. The zone called Cascatelle (small waterfalls) was fundamental in discerning which substances could be used in conservation without adverse environmental effects. Thanks to the funding provided by the Hazelwood family of California, the restoration team sought out the best approach—and oils such as rosemary and licorice—to clean and revitalize the area.

Before and after cleaning of Apollo playing his cithar in the Cascatelle section of the Vatican Gardens

With over 500 pieces in the gardens, the innovation continues in other sections and is in progress now. The Grotto of Lourdes (sponsored by California Chapter), the helicopter port (Texas Chapter), Madonna of the Guard (The Brewis family of Michigan), Zitella and the Casina of Pius IV (New York Chapter), and Vignaccia (Robert Toll of Philadelphia) are all sections where work is taking place. There are still 7 more sections that are part of the gardens and need adoption in the future.

If in the next few years you have the good fortune to gaze upon the panorama of the gardens from the Museums, you might also catch sight through the bushes of a restorer or two rejuvenating the Vatican’s backyard —our very own cocktail historians and innovators rolled into one!

Initial Greetings from our New International Director

 

Vatican City, September 8, 2017

 

Dear Patrons,

Greetings from Rome where today I officially take the helm as the Intemational Director of the

Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums.

Since my arrivai in Rome July 14th, I have had seven weeks to “shadow” Father Daniel Hennessey both here in the Vatican, as well as on a brief trip to the United States which included meetings with the Chapter leaders ofDC and NY as well as with Msgr. Terry Hogan and Lorna Richardson. Here in the Vatican I am becoming a “recognizabie figure’for the Swiss Guards and Gendarme and Vatican Museums Staff. It seems the only one left forme to meet is the Pope Francis!

Ever since meeting Bill Wilson and a group of Patrons in the early 90’s when I was a seminarian in Rome, I have been impressed by this distinguished group of individuals. And now, after walking the museum halls these past two months, I continually see these words at the base of a work of art: “this restoration was made possible by the generosity of the Patrons of …..”! Friends, I am truly honored and awed to now be officiaiiy a part ofthe Patrons ofthe Arts, even ifi have had the grace to mix with you on various occasions in the past. You should also be proud to be members of a unique Vatican association that is soon to reach its 35th year of service to promote and preserve this great patrimony of humanity housed in the Vatican Museums.

Although I am still dedicating much thought and prayer as to what I believe I can personally offer all of you at the service of this organization, three words come to mind and heart.

The first is stability. I know changes always can make us uneasy, even if it can bring good things. And the change at the helm of leadership is no exception. Additionally, we will also be changing our Vatican location as we move our offices closer to the Museum’s administration offices which are much nearer to the main entrance. While we face these changes, many things remain that provide us with stability. First of ali, the excelient staffthat I have been gifted which so many ofyou know, such as Sara Savoldelio and Romina Cornetti among others here in Rome, as well as Msgr. Terry Hogan and Loma Richardson in the U.S.. Stability is also provided by my own previous experience working in the Vatican at the Pontificai Council for the Laity, where I headed up the “Church and Sport” office for eight years. Additionally, the dedication and passion ofall Patrons to promote and to preserve the beauty of art as an enduring spirituallegacy provides us continuity as well. In order to be poised for future and current growth, we need to have a stable and strong foundation. In light of this, I want to recognize ali that Fr Daniel has done in his tenure to bring stability by institutionalizing our PAVM Fellowship program in order to accommodate the growing number of visitors we have each week as weii as take measures to bolster our technological savvy to keep up with these new demands.

The other word that I would like to mark my tenure is collaboration. From what I gather, the collaboration of our office with the Museum leadership team is really starting to blossom, as was seen in the enthusiastic presence ofDr. Jatta at the leaders meeting in Phoenix. I would like to continue to build up transparency, trust and teamwork among all: with our office staff, with the leadership ofthe Vatican museums, with each of the Patron chapters, and even among the chapters and their membership. We will be facing some extraordinary restoration projects in the upcoming years that will require teamwork and collaboration among ari of us.

The last word is momentum. In my almost 18 years as a priest, one thing I lament seeing is a waste of energy and resources due to trying to continually reinvent the wheel. Yes, we need to be innovative, but also rooted in real experience and best practices. It is my hope that I can dismay the feeling that we are starting all over again from scratch. Rather, I hope to build on the legacy of the past and the current momentum of this past year. In speaking with Dr. Jatta, Fr. Daniel and others present at the leaders meeting in Phoenix, they perceive a new momentum, an air of excitement and a forward thinking spirit among the Chapter feaders and tne patrons in generai Of course, not ali of our problems are resolved, and each chapter will have its particular challenges to face, but we have a legacy and a new momentum that I want to build upon and bolster. I know there were some concrete commitments that carne out of the March Chapter Leaders meeting that I will also commit myself to in order to keep moving the bali forward.

I humbly ask for your prayers and patience asI try to hit the ground running. I promise to offer you my best as I try to be at your service so tnat alT ofus can gìve our best in fulfilling our unique mìssion of promoting art and beauty as an enduring spirituallegacy.

 

 

 

Click here to download Father Kevin’s letter: FrKevinLixey001

 

WELCOME TO OUR NEW INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR

It is with extreme gratitude that we say goodbye to, Fr. Daniel Hennessy, L.C., International Director of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums from summer 2016 to summer 2017 and welcome our new director Fr. Kevin Lixey, L.C. While Fr. Hennessy was with us only briefly, his warm demeanor and determined attitude were influential. Below, you can read a letter from Fr. Hennessy that introduces our new director, whom we welcome with warm anticipation.

Dear Patrons and Friends,

A very cordial greeting from the Vatican where we are gearing up for another season of wonder at the many blessings showered upon us by God. Just the other day I was walking with a journalist through the museum, close to closing hour, and she said, “how could anyone who has seen all this beauty ever resort to violence or hatred? Just seeing this gives me hope for humanity.” As we open the late summer and autumn season of activities, there is big news for the Patrons Office.

As some of you may have already read in the Newsletter, Father Kevin Lixey LC will take my place as International Director of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums beginning in September of this year. Father Kevin is a member of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ. He has served as a spiritual director for the Regnum Christi Movement of Apostolate based in Atlanta, Georgia, for the past five years. Prior to his assignment in Georgia, he served at the Vatican for eight years in the Council for the Laity, heading up the Office for Sport, of which he was the founding director. Father Kevin was ordained priest in January of 2001. He is originally from Flint, Michigan, and has a broad international experience thanks to numerous assignments abroad. I have been working with Father Kevin since the beginning of July of this year in order to ensure a smooth transition. I am confident that he will provide competent leadership for our organization.

I want to thank you for the many wonderful experiences I have had during the past year as International Director. I have enjoyed meeting so many of you, participating in the events, following the restoration projects, being involved in the exhibits here in Rome and abroad. You have been wonderful, and your contribution to the Vatican Museums is invaluable. You bring a value far beyond the financial help for the restoration and conservation projects. Your interest and enthusiasm is always refreshing and continues to transform the Vatican Museums. I can assure you that you are very much appreciated by the museum administration at all levels, including the current director, Dr. Barbara Jatta, and the Cardinal President of the Vatican City State, Giuseppe Bertello. I will carry with me forever the memories and life lessons from my experiences with the Patrons.

I take this opportunity to thank the staff here in Rome: Sara, Romina, Chiara; and the fellows, Leticia and Ami. They have been a wonderful support over the past months, and it has been a joy working with them. I also want to thank Msgr. Terry Hogan who helped me in so many ways, and Lorna Richardson, whose devoted service to the organization is well known to all. Thank you also to my predecessor, Fr. Mark Haydu LC, who paved the way for such a wonderful experience for me. And, of course, thanks be to God our Father, who is the giver of every gift and source of all blessing!

May God bless you today and always!
Fr Daniel

 

The Menorah: Worship, History, and Legend

15 May-23 July 2017

 

You shall make a menorah* of pure beaten gold—its shaft and branches—with its cups and knobs and petals springing directly from it. Six branches are to extend from its sides, three branches on one side, and three on the other…. You shall then make seven lamps for it and so set up the lamps that they give their light on the space in front of the menorah. These, as well as the trimming shears and trays, must be of pure gold.”

(Exodus 25:31-32, 37-38)

 

With his instructions received directly from God in the Torah, Moses entrusts the Menorah’s fashioning to artisan Bezalel, and the seven-branched candelabrum enters into the era of history and man. The Menorah is a beacon of light and hope for the Children of Israel in their exile. It was to be displayed in the first temple of Jerusalem affront the Holy of Holies, evoking in its imagery both a foretaste of the heavenly temple for which the chosen people longed, as well as the imagery of the Burning Bush and the Tree of Life. Abruptly displaced from its role of providing a sound meaning and iconography to the Jewish people, the candelabrum is most likely vandalized by the Babylonian tyrant Nebuchadnezzar in his destruction of the first temple in 586 BC. Then, the Roman general Titus eradicates the second reconstructed Temple completely in 70 AD. The Menorah is sacked from the Temple and put on a ship bound for Rome, where the candelabrum begins its perpetual nomadic fate. The exhibition hosts a variety of large-scale paintings that visually lead the visitor through the eventful history of the iconic Menorah. For example, the Destruction of the Temple masterpieces, two by Niccolas Poussin (loaned from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) and another by Francesco Hayez (his work from the Venice Gallery of Modern Art) are monumental paintings with confusing crowds of Roman invaders and Jewish defenders. Yet the robbery of the Menorah seems to be always a central scene of the picture. Hayez’ painting allows us to see how three men were needed to carry the heavy candelabrum; they are lifting the symbol of the spoils high above their heads, as its branches clearly stand out in front of the white Temple walls.

 

Francesco Hayez-Destruction of Temple (depicting destruction in 70 AD) Francesco Hayez, Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, 1863-67
Venezia, Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Ca’ Pesaro
olio su tela, 183 x 282 cm

Joseph-Noël Sylvestre’s Sack of Rome by the Barbarians in 410 shows the further fate of the Menorah during the event in which Rome had fallen to a foreign enemy for the first time in 800 years. In three days the city was looted completely and the Goths took enormous treasures with them—most likely including objects once belonging to the Jewish Temple.

Sylvestre-Sack of Rome Joseph-Noël Sylvestre, The Sack of Rome by the Barbarians in 410, 1890

As Rome was the location where the Menorah began its endless pilgrimage, there is no better place than the Eternal City itself to host the first-ever collaborative exhibition between the Vatican Museums and the Jewish Museum of Rome. The two locations encourage visitors to traverse the streets of Rome to explore the exhibition in two separate locations. With over 140 exhibits from 40 museums worldwide, it is possible to follow the cult, history, and legend of the Menorah from ancient times to its modern-day image, through a rich journey of art. The figurative paintings, illustrated codices, and candelabrums allow every pilgrim in Rome to embark upon the journey through history and mystery as told through the symbol that most dynamically epitomizes the Jewish culture and religion. The show offers a depth of insight into the temple culture surrounding the Menorah as well as its modern uses and interpretations. Loaned from the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Raphael’s first sketch of the Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple illustrates how in the Christian pictorial tradition, famous scenes located in the temple often show the Menorah in a very prominent position.

Rafael, Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, 1511 252 x 416 mm Albertina, Vienna

In this scene, which the Syrian general Heliodorus tries to sack the temple in Jerusalem, his plan is thwarted thanks to prayers of the high priest. Interestingly, in this preliminary drawing, Raphael places the Menorah in a more striking position than in his final fresco in the Stanza di Heliodorus in the Vatican Museums. An astute eye may have seen that in the sketch the high priest seems to be almost touched by the high priest praying for salvation, whereas its position is very different on the walls of the Vatican. In Andrea Sacchi’s Annunciation to Zachariah, an angel announces to the Jewish priest that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son, to whom he was to name John, and that this son would be the forerunner of the Lord.

Andrea Sacchi, L’Annunciazione a Zaccaria (per il Battistero di San Giovanni in Laterano)
Musei Vaticani, Pinacoteca
310 x 250 cm

Since the encounter with the heavenly messenger took place in the Temple, we can see that the painting in the Menorah right behind the two protagonists. Its branches fill the space between the faces of Zachariah and the angel. The candelabrum, then, serves as a visual element that spiritually “links” the faith of the Jewish religion (represented by Zachariah) to the Christian religion (the angel bearing news of the Lord). Today the Menorah still evokes much imagery and meaning for both the Jewish and Christian Religions. Lampstands from both the Hebrew tradition as well as seven-branched candelabra from Christian Churches are on display. Aside from the physical lampstands themselves providing theological interpretations, modern designs, via mass production, take the longstanding symbol in wide circulation. As the Menorah has become par-excellence the symbol of Judaism, it is fitting that it was chosen for the emblem for Israel.

Emblem for Israel: The 1948 competition winner for the Emblem of Israel

The exhibition even hosts the 1948 competition winner, signed by Israel’s first Prime Minister.  Here the Menorah is displayed on a shield, in a way reminiscent from the imagery in the book of Zachariah: the candelabrum is flanked by olive trees, from where the oil to light it originates. The Menorah is depicted as it is seen in the Arch of Titus, commemorating the destruction of the Temple under his tyranny. Modern pieces included in the special collection range from Jewish artists such as Marc Chagall to William Kentridge. Raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, Chagall was heavily influenced by his family upbringing and the Jewish fatalities 1938 as a result of the “Reichskristallnacht” (when Nazi Germans ransacked Jewish-owned establishments). His colorful pastels exhibiting the deep roots of his Hebrew heritage are part of the exhibit.

Chagal
Marc Chagall, Tribe of Levi, 1960; litografia, 42 x 30 cm; From the Marc Chagall Museum, Vitebsk

Kentridge’s 2016 preparatory drawings for highlight the important scenes from sack of the Temple by Titus’ troops. One can see his preliminary sketches in the Vatican, and then walking down by the Tevere River towards the Jewish quarter, view the drawings immortalized in his Triumph and Lamentations graffiti on the embankment walls between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini. The latter artist, Kentridge, brings the sojourn of the Menorah to life through his drawings for the graffiti along the Lungotevere in Roma (2016) illustrate the movement of the Menorah after the destruction of the Temple, and how its history is to the history of Rome.He highlights the scene from the Arch of Titus where the spoils including the Menorah are taken from the Temple.

William Kentridge, Preparatory Drawings for Lungotevere graffiti “Triumph and Lamentations”

The heroes of this exhibit are those who made it possible. It is curated and directed by Arnold Nesselrath (deputy of the Vatican Museums), Alessandra Di Castro (Director of the Jewish Museum of Rome), and Francesco Leone (Associate professor of Art History at Univ. G. Di’Annunzio). Half of the funds needed for the exhibit were made on behalf of the Jewish community thanks to a great endowment by R. Lauder. For a significant part of the rest of the funds, our Patrons family came together in a path of solidarity to make the event possible. The California, New York, Northwest, Michigan, Illinois, Canada Chapters and other private donors all contributed to the exhibition. Thanks to their generosity, visitors to the exhibition may witness the mysteries of faith in a multicultural experience and participate in a journey of interfaith dialogue.

 

 

“The Life of a Swiss Guard, A Private View” in Washington, DC

The Exhibition was unveiled Thursday night at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with welcome remarks from Msgr. Walter Rossi of the Basilica, Most Rev. Christopher Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio and Msgr. Charles Antonicelli, representative for Cardinal Wuerl.

 

Father Daniel Hennessy, Romina Cometti, CEM and Judy Martin Chapter Leaders of Washington DC Chapter

Col. Christian Lanz of the Embassy of Switzerland attended and briefly spoke about traits needed to become a
Swiss Guard. Father Daniel Hennessy, our International Director, traveled from Rome to spend the week in WDC and offered his thanks to the DC Patrons for bringing the exhibit to the city. Dr. Geraldine Rohling, archivist for BNSIC was recognized for her assistance in setting up the event and Dr. Romina Cometti, who curated the exhibit and who we all know from the Patrons office in Rome, spoke about the origins of the exhibition and its message. Two former Swiss Guards, Andreas Widmer and Dr. Mario Enzler, offered humorous accounts of their decisions to become a Swiss Guard and a few stories about their time with St. John Paul II and how if deepened their faith. CEM Martin, who acted as emcee, thanked the DC Patrons for their generosity and support as they made this Vatican Museums exhibit possible for thousands of visitors to enjoy. About 80 guests were there to enjoy the wonderful hors d’oeuvres and period music provided by Concerto Degli Imperfetti, led by Jean Cioffi. The exhibit was on show at the National Shrine in Memorial Hall from April 6 through May 21, 2017.

 

 

Life of a Swiss Guard at the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts Museum

The photography exhibition, Life of a Swiss Guard: A Private View has been open to the public from February 4 through March 25, 2017 at Faneuil Hall on the 4th floor of the historic building, above the Great Hall, in theAncient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts Museum.

‘Life of a Swiss Guard’, reveals the most photographedmilitary corps in the world in a new light, away from the uniforms and flags. The exhibit was prominently displayed in the Vatican Museums Cortile delle Corazze in Rome this past spring, and was unveiled at Faneuil Hall following a stop in California.

The Swiss Guard has a historic connection to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in Boston. The AHAC dates back to 1638, making it the third oldest military organization in the world after the Honourable Artillery Company of London (1537) and the Vatican’s Pontifical Swiss Guard (1506) is the oldest chartered military organization in the western hemisphere. AHAC’s charter was granted in March 1638 by the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay and signed by Governor John Winthrop.

The photography exhibition, Life of a Swiss Guard: A Private View has beenopen to the public from February 4 through March 25, 2017 at Faneuil Hall on the 4th floor of the historic building, above the Great Hall, in theAncient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts Museum.

‘Life of a Swiss Guard’, reveals the most photographed military corps in the world in a new light, away from the uniforms and flags. The exhibit was prominently displayed in the Vatican Museums Cortile delle Corazze in Rome this past spring, and was unveiled at Faneuil Hall following a stop in California.The Swiss Guard has a historic connection to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in Boston. The AHAC dates back to 1638, making it the third oldest military organization in the world after the HonourableArtillery Company of London (1537) and the Vatican’s Pontifical Swiss Guard (1506) is the oldest chartered military organization in the western hemisphere. AHAC’s charter was granted in March 1638 by the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay and signed by Governor John Winthrop.

 

 

 

Credit to Matt Conti – “MattConti.com”

Vatican Museums restorers save artworks in Italy’s earthquake zones

Firefighters inspect artwork rescued from a church in quake-struck Norcia, Italy - AP

Firefighters inspect artwork rescued from a church in quake-struck Norcia, Italy – AP

(Vatican Radio) Five restorers from the Vatican Museums are working to salvage works of art in churches and towns damaged in recent earthquakes in central Italy: that, according to Barbara Jatta, the Museums’ new director who takes up her post on January 1.  At a press conference Friday, Jatta said most are working in Umbria, between Norcia and Spoleto.

The Vatican Museums’ first woman director said some 20 of the institution’s  65 experts have offered to collaborate with local municipal arts departments to secure fresco cycles and important works buried under the rubble.  The Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, reports that many of the works will be brought to the Museums’ restoration labs to be cleaned and repaired.

Jatta added that the Museums are also supporting the quake zones’ economies by purchasing local food products for their catering services.

Though access to the damaged areas is challenging amid continuous tremors, the Vatican restorers have already inspected 25 churches and 6 fresco cycles.  25 important but injured works of art have been recovered.

Article posted on the Radio Vaticana website

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/12/24/vatican_museums_restorers_save_artwork_in_italy%E2%80%99s_quake_zone/1281339

INAUGURATION OF THE BRACCIO NUOVO

braccio nuovo

INAUGURATION OF THE BRACCIO NUOVO

Wednesday Dicember 21st, 2016 |  5:30PM
BRACCIO NUOVO, VATICAN MUSEUMS
Free Entrance from Viale Vaticano showing the invitation
Starting from 5:00PM until 6:00PM
 RSVP eventi.musei@scv.va

Located between the Chiaramonti Gallery and the Profane Museum, the Braccio Nuovo is one of the most frequented and admired Galleries inside the Vatican.  Built under the supervision of Raffaele Stern during the pontificate of Pope Pius VII and opened to the public in 1822, The Braccio Nuovo is one of the most beautiful examples of Neoclassical Art.  The architecture and colored marble (often taken from old Roman buildings) recall the ancient and glorious past where classic sculptures are displayed in ideal niches similar to their original ambience. The caisson ceiling has skylights that allow natural light to break through and illuminate the whole architectural space. The walls are decorated with stucco-friezes in bas reliefs done by Francesco Massimiliano Laboureur and inspired by famous Roman monuments (e.g. the Trajan Column and the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum). There are niches that showcase the statues perfectly. Several busts are located on small columns and shelves.

Veduta del Braccio Nuovo con la Statua del Nilo, Musei Vaticani

 

Sculpture Restoration in the Braccio Nuovo

Braccio Nuovo 04

This amazing project began in 2009 thanks to the generosity of the Patrons of the Arts, and with the addition of this project, became the first Gallery entirely restored by Patrons! Some of the most important dinners for both the Cardinals and the Patrons of the Arts are held in this marvellous place. This project focussed on the restoration of the sculptures and friezes located on the left hand side of the wall up to the Nile Statue. The task was to complete the cleaning of 132 busts and statues. This project proved an invaluable opportunity for a comprehensive and thorough study of the sculptures and has produced results of importance for the history of restorations between the 16th through the 19th centuries. The Braccio Nuovo, born expressly as a museum display room, is unique from all other galleries in the museums and is one of our most scenic. For the first time in the history of the Museums, an entire selection of classical sculpture has been studied according to a well-planned program both in regards to the historical documentary research and the technical production. The entire project was intended to become a paradigmatic model of intervention to be extended to other areas of the museums of classical sculpture. The work provided a conservative intervention of surface cleaning, grouting and aesthetic treatment for all the sculptures and busts, as well as maintenance on the stucco friezes performed by the Marble Laboratory. All phases of work were duly documented with photographs and the creation of graphics. A database recording each conservation sculptural work and the model used by the laboratory accompanied the intervention.

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State of Preservation before the restoration:

The statues of the Braccio Nuovo were characterized by a large quantity of previous restorations and integrations with stucco and mortar that needed to be removed and redone. Several statues were restored by mixing elements together. Layers of dust and old varnish covered the surfaces and needed to be removed. Naturally, the cleaning enabled a better preservation for the future and increase the public’s appreciation of these pieces.

Restoration Process undertaken for each Statue included:

  • Diagnosis of state and conditions
  • Photographic documentation before restoration
  • Location for scaffolding
  • Laboratory analysis
  • Choice of a suitable cleaning system
  • 3D documentation
  • Cleaning and consolidation of the surface
  • Removal of previous restorations, integrations and consolidations
  • Cleaning of the dark stains resulted from water and pollution
  • Checking and possible removal of iron nails located in the marble structure replaced with fibreglass or steal
  • Recreation of a chromatic balance on the entire surface where needed
  • Overall lay out of protective layer
  • Photographic documentation: 8 photos for each statue; 4 for each bust
  • 3D documentation as integration to the previous one in order to obtain historical documentation of the piece when the ancient restoration is removed
  • Data processing for complete documentation for each single statue

 

 

Mosaics Restoration in the Braccio Nuovo

Artist: Unknown
Date: 2nd Century AD
Dimensions: 5,60 x 1.50 ; 5,60x 5,60
Material: Stone
Inventory Number: 45766-45767

Mosaics_in_the_Braccio_Nuovo1
The restoration of these two mosaics completed the conservation work which has been carried on for some years now on the floor of the Braccio Nuovo Gallery. At the archaeological excavations conducted brac1between 1817 and 1821 in the area of Tor Marancia on the Via Ardeatina, just outside the Porta San Sebastiano, were found the remains of at least two large residential areas of senatorial families dating back to the second century AD. Some names of the owners, Munatia Procula, Numisia Procula and Fulvius Petronius Aemilianus, still appear on the Fistula aquarium. The archaeological research was carried out by the Marquis Luigi Biondi, butler and superintendent of the property of Princess Maria of Savoy Chablais, daughter of King Vittorio Amedeo III of Sardinia, who, in her will, left the Vatican Museums a part of his collection, now primarily displayed in the Gallery of the Candelabra. A few of the mosaic floors found during the excavations entered in the Vatican collections and were placed, highly integrated and reassembled, in the floor of the Braccio Nuovo, which opened to the public in 1822. These mosaics are made with white and black tiles. Their outline is decorated with geometric patterns or clusters with small birds pecking at grapes, while the central area contains  more complex figurative scenes: marine courting, some episodes of the legendary wanderings of Ulysses in the Mediterranean and, finally, a large representation of Dionysian scenes. At the corners of the Dionysian scene are located tufts of acanthus foliage. At the four corners there are pictures of young satyrs bearing the typical attributes of Tirso and goat skin garments. At the centre there is an older bearded satyr, and a Bacchante with a crown of vine leaves on his head; both are imbued with wine and dance.

Mosaics_in_the_Braccio_Nuovo, 2

Across the Mosaic, several different restorations—completed during the past few centuries—are evident at surface level. Their visibility is due to the fact that these restoration treatments were, unfortunately, not carried out according to the now established ethics of conservation and bylaws of reversibility in restoration. One particularly compromising restoration, executed in the brac1960s, inserted cement tiles directly into the mosaic and affixed the entire piece to nine metal platforms. These metal platforms eventually became one of the major stresses of the mosaic, as they caused several breaks in the surface structure and, consequentially, the loss of many surface tiles. The mosaic had also been integrated in several areas with lime stone and pozzolana materials. The most harmful material used ended up being the cement, which literally broke parts of the mosaic and its tiles into pieces. Restorers also found that the mosaic’s original limestone, which had originally (and continuously) been keeping portions of the work together, was severely deteriorated and had become another culprit behind the daily loss of tiles and smaller pieces of the mosaic. The first stage of the restoration began with a thorough removal of the many types of deposits that had accumulated in the spaces between the tiles. Next, the surface wax that had been applied to the floor of the Braccio Nuovo, and thus the surface of the mosaic, was removed in order to allow for a better absorption of the consolidating substances applied by the restorers, where needed. The entire surface was then delicately treated: old mortar was carefully removed, and the process of reintegrating missing pieces began. All the missing tiles were reintegrated with new ones that were purposely painted “sottotono” (using a lower tone of color ) in order to showcase the current restoration, following the ethics of conservation and bylaws of restoration of the Vatican Museums: restorers aim to return a work to its necessary level of readability, but only in a way that does not mask the original. The team created a graphic documentation of the work, in order to track the positions of all tiles, original and non-original. Next, restorers applied a silica-based mixture in between and beneath the tiles to consolidate the entire mosaic. Then, gaps were reintegrated with ancient mosaic tiles that were best suited to homogenize the work. These tiles were grouted with mortar in three different tones: one for the dark figures, the black bars, and the perimeter of the frame, one clear mortar for the white areas, and a neutral tone for the central area and the bands of mosaics

State of Preservation before the restoration:

The mosaics were in overall good condition but some tiles were slowly detaching due to time, corrosion and in particular, the heavy travertine support system.

Restoration Process Included:

  • Cleaning of the mosaic surface
  • Replacing of the travertine support with a flexible aluminium honeycomb (areolam)
  • Restoration of the bedding of the tiles.

Thanks to donations from Mr. & Mrs. Petrosky and Robert LoCascio of the New York Chapter, The Statues and the Mosaics in the Braccio Nuovo have been fully restored. Found during excavations of second century dwellings, these marvelously intricate floors were beginning to crack and develop discoloration. Broken tiles were reintroduced and the floor was sealed according to modern restoration techniques so as not to undermine the integrity of the original. Restorers Robert Cassio, Paolo Monaldi and Danielle Belladonna worked laboriously to insure that we can still see the work of the original craftsmen. The finished product is as gloriously represented as when the floors were first completed almost 2,000 years ago.