Our Art Historian, Romina, illuminates the restorations on 48 amazing bookcases completed by Mario Cretoni in the mid 19th century. These currently live in the Gallery of Urban VIII. The delicately ornate bookcases feature scenes of Rome and the Vatican from the 1800s. Thank you to our Florida Chapter for helping us restore these Vatican treasures.
One of the most fruitful bronze age sites has been the Tomb of Regolini Galassi. Discovered in 1836 in Cerveteri this tomb can still be visited today. Etruscan tombs of this kind often held ceremonial artifacts in gold, bronze, and silver and excavation here unearthed a chariot, silverware, gilded and bronze ware and precious jewels assumed to be the property of the deceased.
Today, several artifacts from this excavation grace the Vatican Museum and thanks to the support of our Florida Patrons (particularly Mr. and Mrs. John Koch) they are being properly cared for and restored. In particular, eleven bronze ribbed paterae (plates), originally placed along the cell walls of the tomb as well as ceremonial vases of oriental origin that were used in entombment rituals of Etruscan royal classes are being cleaned and refurbished for display. In addition, four ceremonial shields have been restored and their parts reconnected/strengthened using “resina epossidica” – a special artificial acrylic resin that allows the reintegration of missing areas without negative reaction to the bronze surface.
This important project restoring some of the most representative Etruscan artifacts extant, shows a true glimpse into history and the lives (and deaths) of people from over 2500 years ago.
From the 7th to 4th Century B.C. the Etruscans produced volumes of expressive greek pottery making them the largest producer of such work outside of Greece. Amazingly, over 2500 years later we are still able to reconstruct these artistic treasures while preserving their narrative and respecting their age and importance.
In the restoration labs at the Vatican we are currently working on 17 precious Etruscan vases with restorations expected to be finished this May. There are a few intriguing aspects of these particular reconstructions which are being completed by restorer Giulia Barella.
See the video behind the scenes!
What is conservative restoration?
Shards of pottery can get lost over the millennia leaving small gaps in the artistic imagery. Instead of trying to guess at possible filler for these lost pieces, Barella has chosen to retain the full integrity of the piece as we understand it. Where there are gaps she uses a monochrome touch up piece that resembles the background of the base. This kind of conservative restoration means that there are no assumptions and viewers have an unblemished and unbiased view of the existing work. See the video for how this looks!
Sometimes earlier restorations can hinder the work today
For example, one vase on display had to be disassembled before it could be restored. Restoration in the 1800s was crude by today’s standards. Therefore, we melted away the animal based glue they used in the 19th century and separated the 30 composite pieces before Ms. Barella was able to continue with her own work of puzzling the shards back together with more modern and sustainable adhesive.
It is thanks to the Canadian Chapter that we can continue restoration on these amazing pieces. Stay tuned for more information on this demanding and rewarding project that allows a glimpse into artisans work from thousands of years ago.
The Gallery of the Candelabras takes its names from a pair of massive marble candelabra that help divide the hall, which was arranged by Pope Pius VI in the 18th century. It is within this gallery some of the most important decoration in the Museums can be found. The paintings on the wall were completed by Domenico Torti and Ludwig Seitz. This highly trafficked hall of the Museum is currently undergoing a very important restoration that will highlight these paintings and return them to their original splendor.
Through speaking with head restorer, Francesca Persegati, we learned that the restorers are very interested in this project because it’s a chance to study and work on 20th century mural painting. The other fact that makes this project unique, is that the paintings aren’t frescoes, but instead Torti and Seitz used tempera colors. In addition, the restoration team has not only cleaned the walls, but they also had to evaluate the damage of the roof and the work that must be done to fix it and prevent future damage.
The restoration of the Gallery of the Candelabras is not only a grand project, but it marks an occasion for scholars and restorers to study different techniques of modern art. Our thanks go to not only to Persegati and her restoration team, but also to Connie Frankino of the Ohio Chapter for making this restoration possible!