Pontormo under the skin

You have time until the 20th of July to admire Pontormo’s restored “Sacra Conversazione”(also known as Pala Pucci) before it returns to its original venue, the Florentine church of San Michele in Visdomini. This masterpiece was highly praised by Giorgio Vasari, who wrote it was “the most notable panel ever made by Pontormo”. It was indeed a very innovative painting: the traditional scheme for this theme was disregarded, the figures scattered in all directions, creating a new balance and new strength lines.
This magnificent painting is currently in Palazzo Strozzi in the exposition “Pontormo e Rosso Fiorentino. Divergenti vie della Maniera” where one can admire, among others, Pontormo’s works and those of his friend Rosso Fiorentino.
Art-Test’s diagnostics campaign on this large panel painting was carried out in two steps, firstly scanner IR reflectography data acquisition was performed to visualize the underdrawing, then in the second phase UV fluorescence and Multilayer analysis where planned, in order to investigate the conservation state.
New insights on the life of the painting have emerged. Fluorescence analyses have revealed many interventions and changes, during previous restoration attempts. Several retouches and three coatings of varnish were applied of which the Multilayer has permitted a better, more detailed reading. Moreover, visualizing the first sketch and the pentimenti, has demonstrated how the painter had, since the very beginning, the general setting of his work well established. However, he still made numerous changes in the final phase, directly with the paintbrush.
The latest restoration, by Lisa Venerosi Pesciolini, brought it back to its original light! Visit the exposition and admire it.