In 2018, a fundraising project “In the Name of Michelangelo” was set up, supported by 132 donors from fourteen different countries, for the restoration of the monumental tomb of Michelangiolo Buonarroti, 1564-1576, built on a project by Giorgio Vasari, who painted also the large altarpiece with the “Ascent to Calvary” scene.
The painting had in fact much darkened due to the strong yellowing of the protective varnish, laid during the last restoration dating back to about 50 years earlier. Moreover the previous conservation intervention had not completely solved the problems of decohesion of the preparatory layer and loss of parts of the paint layer: all consequences of the flood suffered in 1966.
Art–Test was entrusted with the diagnostic campaign, i.e. with a series of non-destructive diagnostic investigations (Reflectography, X-ray fluorescence analyses) and a micro-sampling, intended to facilitate the work of the restorer, which was known to be rather complex.
A careful selective cleaning was required on the different repainting and retouching layers linked to past restorations, to be performed with specifically prepared mixtures who had to take into account what was present on the surface.
Then, when possible, the missing parts were to be filled without interfering with the original painting. The aim was for the painting to finally regain all the compositional and chromatic vivacity typical of Vasari.
Although the restoration has been much discussed, details previously not fully appreciated have re-emerged such as a face that looks like that of a young Michelangelo who, in the likeness of Nicodemus, looks in the direction of his tomb, located to the right of the painting, and of a gray-haired Rosso Fiorentino, with a vermilion, that is, dark red headdress, in the guise of Giuseppe d’Arimatea.
The reflectographic images then revealed the complex genesis of the painting, with numerous changes in the composition, research that has not yet been published.
During the diagnostic operations, the restoration site was characterized by its openness to the public who followed the progress of the work with great interest.
a glimpse during the investigation campaign