We are almost there. 450 years after the death of Pope Pius V, i.e. from 7 July, the complex of Santa Croce in Bosco Marengo will be reborn, with its majestic Vasari paintings.

The monumental complex of Bosco Marengo was in fact ranked second in the 2016 edition of the FAI “Places of the Heart” competition and 40 thousand euros were allocated to it. They were meant for the construction of a new museum, in which the innovative exhibition path would also include an immersive experience.

We at Art-Test know the Church of Santa Croce in Bosco Marengo well. And that it needed a restoration was evident.

In 2011, Art-Test carried out an important diagnostic campaign on two of the artworks making up the altar machine, and on the Adoration of the Magi painting now in a side chapel.

In a cold winter, surrounded by snow, we transferred all our equipment to Bosco Marengo. And worked day and night. Two of the three paintings were investigated to understand the way of working of the artist, whether there were more than one artist working on the painting, and the sort of technique that was used. Multispectral imaging (with image processing method, patented by Art-Test, the Multilyer © Method) was employed for this, together with Xrays imaging and IR scanner reflectography, in order to investigate also the structure of the wooden support and the preparatory drawing. The acquisition of the 3D model was then carried out on two paintings (together with FBK), in order to understand the possible deformations to the support and any flaking in the paint layer. Finally samples were taken for chemical-physical analyses to understand the stratigraphy of the pictorial film in areas where there was a remaining question.

The extraordinary nature of the site meant a complex organization, starting with the scaffolding that had to be suitable for a correct set up of many different instruments. Then the challenging acquisitions at night, necessary to be able to carried out in the dark the multispectral UV fluorescence acquisitions, since it was not possible to darken the site otherwise.

You will find an in-depth analysis of the diagnostic campaign carried out on the Marengo wood paintings here.

We can’t wait to go back to Bosco Marengo and find everything restored. The grandeur and beauty of the works deserved it.

Virtually the great Vasari machine had already been rebuilt at the time. Who knows now what the virtual visit will offer. Pius V would probably gladly wake up to see how his church returns to shine!

Emanuela Massa
Emanuela Massa