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It is not, and it was not, a common practice to make full size models for statues. But apparently Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne), at the time of this commission for Piazza della Signoria in Florence, was best known for “small” things, and he wanted to immediately silence who did not trust his abilities to work with bigger dimensions.
So he proved himself in large statuary already at the time of presenting a model, et voilat: a giant sculpture 4 meters tall was produced. But how did he do? What techniques and what materials did he use?
In 2013 Art-Test Florence, along with other research organizations and companies specialized in diagnostic applied to cultural heritage, was involved in the campaign designed to provide the complex analyses of the model of the Rape of the Sabine Women, now at the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence, with the objective to answer such questions. The model is in terra cruda, i.e. raw clay, having indeed the same size of the marble work, you can admire the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. However the model is not identical. Do you want to know more? It is now possible to access all the results of diagnostic tests performed and the history of its restoration. They are now all published by Syllables in the book “It ratto delle Sabine e il suo restauro “. Inside it there are notes on the history of the artwork and on the restoration performed. It is not easy to synthesize the amount of information contained in the volume so we invite you to read it and find out how a simple “bozzetto” is actually a work of refined technical inventiveness. Jean de Boulogne really knew his business.
The wonderful “Female Head” of Leonardo, also known as “Scapigliata” or “Lady of disheveled hair” preserved at the National Gallery of Parma, represented for Leonardo da Vinci a sort of manifesto of his status of excellent painter and, at the same time, a sort of a safe-conduct for his habit of not finishing his paintings, according to the latest research of Carmen Bambach, published on the occasion of the extremely intersting exhibition “Unfinished” at the MET of New York. In fact, it would seem that Leonardo wanted to compare himself with Apelles of Kos, the legendary ancient Greek painter. In a book that Leonardo is known to have owned, Pliny wrote that the Apelles had worked on a Venus without being able to bring it to completion, remaining however, despite this “failure”, the greatest painter ever existed, and rather “inventing” the “unfinished” genre.
Art-Test has performed investigations on the Scapigliata at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) of New York, to evaluate its conservation status before its transfer to Paris, for the exhibition “Leonardo in France – The Master and his Pupils 500 years after crossing the Alps. 1516-2016”, open at the Italian Embassy till November 20, 2016.
Art-Test has also performed analysis on two other of the most important paintings on display in Paris: the “Saint John” of Salaì of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana of Milan and the “Salvator Mundi” (or “Head of Christ”) also currently generally attributed to his favorite assistant and friend Salaì but by other eminent scholars reputed of being by the hand of Leonardo himself.
The reflectographies of these great artworks, together with many other diagnostic images are published with considerable size and quality in the catalogue of the exhibition.
During the “7th IEEE International Workshop on Information Forensics and Security (WIFS) 2015”, on November 19, a paper by L.Pronti, P. Ferrara, F.Uccheddu, A. Pelagotti and A.Piva entitled “Identification of pictorial materials by means of optimized multispectral reflectance image processing.” will be presented. The work relates to the analysis of the limits and the possibilities offered by multispectral imaging for a reliable identification of materials used in paintings, and stems from the increasingly active collaboration between the University of Florence, La Sapienza in Rome and Art-Test . The multispectral imaging is always a relevant topic, and an interesting non-invasive method, although recently abused by those who lack the necessary scientific basis. Art-test has been a pioneer of this field, with the paper “Multispectral Imaging of Paintings: a Way to Material Identification” by A.Pelagotti, A. Del Mastio, A .de Rosa, A.Piva, , published in the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, Special Issue on Cultural Heritage, vol. 25 n. 4 in July 2008. Since its start, Art-Test develops and applies cutting-edge scientific methods for artworks analysis and diagnostics. We do not use PhotoShop or similar commercial software. The results of our research are usually presented in relevant scientific publications, except when prevented by confidentiality reasons. If you are interested in the scientific methods used in our investigations, please check http://www.art-test.com/pubblicazioni/
The latest publications to which Art-Test contributed:
- V.Raimondi at alii, The use of IR-based techniques in the PRIMARTE project: an integrated approach to the diagnostics of the cultural heritage AITA 215- Advanced Infrared Technology and Applications – 29 Sept. – 2 Oct. 2015, Pisa, Italy, SPIE Remote Sensing 2015 -1 – 24 September 2015 – Toulouse, France AITA
- V.Raimondi at al A multi-disciplinary study on a late 14th-century Florentine Chapel: integrating information, from laser-based measurements to archive historical data, in a multi-medial tools for cultural heritage conservation, LACONA X 2014 – Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks, 9-13 June 2014, Sharjah, UAE
- F.Uccheddu, A.Pelagotti, V.Cappellini and E.Massa. 3D Technology for Measurement of Surface Deformations Paintings: A Case Study, Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2014) London, UK, 8-10 July 2014
- F. Alberghina, M.F. Alberghina, L. Damiani, E. Massa, A. Pelagotti, L.Piccione, S. Schiavone, U. Copani, X-rays for diagnostic imaging of art -46 ° National Congress of the Italian Society of Medical Radiology (SIRM), Florence – Fortezza da Basso (22-25 May 2014) “The X-ray over the Medicine”
- F.Alberghina, MFAlberghina, L.Damiani, E.Massa, A.Pelagotti, S. Schiavone, How many layers and of what? An integrated non-invasive approach for the understanding of painting’s stratigraphy, IV International Meeting “Youth in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage – YOCOCU”, 28 to 31 May 2014, Agsu – Azerbaijan.
- The Pala del Carmine Santi di Tito, analysis of technique and materials used, Science and Technology for Cultural Heritage, Fabrizio Serra publisher, Pisa – Rome
- The Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna and its restoration. And syllables, Livorno by Lia Brunori and Susanna Bracci
- Beyond Gold: a database of underdrawings and material analyzes on Sienese paintings. Connections and dissimilarities of painting techniques across centuries and countries. Published by Bernard Coulie and Paul Dujardin
- Above and below the painting: the results of scientific studies on the Madonna di San Luca in Bologna, curated by Dr. Franco Faranda
In his latest book the author provides a new interpretation of the many self-portraits by Goya, identifying five categories, and through them tracing the often dramatic events of the life of the Aragonese painter.
We are pleased that our analyzes have proved useful. We strive to support experts with certainties. After all we share the thought of Leonardo: “a little certainty is better than a big lie“.