It’s called the Silver River,’ artist Fiora Leona writes, ‘but in reality, it’s gold with a yellowish murky hue.’ A view of the Ponte Vecchio on a day the Arno remembers nothing of its history of disastrous flooding.
Landscape for Nelli’s Archangel Gabriel
Detail, of newly restored Annunciation, attributed to Plautilla Nelli. In the background, viewers will notice a bluish mountainous landscape emerging from green fields.
Emmy in hand
A regional Emmy in 2013 for author and AWA founder Jane Fortune and Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence for ‘Best TV special’ in the Culture category. (Producers T. Gould, C. Taylor, WFYI Public Media).
Poster child ‘Female Perspectives’
Stella and Piero by Vittorio Corcos from Florence’s Modern Art Gallery at the Pitti Palace became the exhibition poster and catalogue cover for ‘Female Perspectives: Women of Talent and Commitment 1861-1926’.
A scaffolding for Nelli’s Last Supper
Expert art movers build a temporary scaffolding in Santa Maria Novella’s old refectory, in mid-October 2019, the day Plautilla Nelli’s Last Supper returned to public view after four years in the conservation studio.
Artemisia’s David and Bathsheba, post restoration
Conservation led by S. Padovani, then director of Palazzo Pitti’s Palatina Gallery and executed by a three-woman team, Elisabetta Codognato, Sandra Freschi and Nicola Ann MacGregor, who sought to minimize damage using neutral tones.
Female Perspectives presented at Pitti
Presentation of Female Perspectives’ at the Pitti’s Sala Bianca on March 6, 2019. “Ex-pat women are well-represented in the show because they enjoyed a brand of freedom in Italy that was unknown in their home countries,” notes speaker L. Falcone.
AWA ‘art detectives’ uncovering Colliva’s profile
Lea Colliva’s early self-portrait, under study at Florence’s paper restoration laboratory,Atelier degli Artigianelli. The strength of her gaze recalls the painter’s poetry in which she described the artist as the ‘eyes of God’.
Atop Palazzo Vecchio
In the 1540s, Medici dukes Cosimo I and Eleonora de Toledo decided to turn Palazzo Vecchio into their royal home and fill it with works by Michelangelo, Vasari and Donatello.From atop the palace, the city’s outdoor treasures are in full view.
Portraits and still-life at Artiste exhibition
A view of the exhibition ‘Artiste, Florence:1900-1950, AWA in collaboration with Fondazione CR Firenze. Painters and sculptor pictured here, from front to back: Elena Salvaneschi (2), Evelyn Scarampi, Flavia Arlotta.
Portrait of Lola Costa
Portrait of Lola Costa by her husband, Federigo Angeli, at their home at Il Palmerino, exhibited there in 2018, during the show featuring Lola Costa and Elisabeth Chaplin, two painter neighbors in the hills of Fiesole in the twentieth century.
‘It’s a girl!’
Linda Falcone and Jane Fortune pose with Art by Women in Florence: A Guide through 500 Years (The Florentine Press, 2012), at the Santa Croce presentation in Sala del Cenacolo, Florence.
Treating Plautilla’s teardrops
Nelli’s Lamentation at San Marco captures the emotion of the pious ladies as they contemplate the dead Christ removed from the Cross. Nelli’s work often portrays holy women moved to tears in moments of devotion or prayer.
Female devotion restored
The Virgin Presents the Baby Jesus to Saint Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, newly restored. This Florentine aristocrat became a cannoned saint in 1669 was hugely popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. After copy by Luca Giordano.
Mrs. Della Ragione, tested
Various patinas emerged during restoration, post-cleaning. The statue underwent diagnostic analyses. Note the small white paper squares that indicate where sampling took place.
Under the mud
Fresh off the press in October 2014, When the World Answered by J. Fortune and L. Falcone (The Florentine Press). The book cover designed by M. Badiani features a self-portrait of 20th-century artist Lea Colliva soiled by mud from the 1966 flood.
Garzoni’s floral treasure trove
Uffizi Galleries exhibition, ‘The Greatness of the Universe in the Art of Giovanna Garzoni’, showcases the artist’s exuberant still-life works. Although flower painters of her time preferred dark backdrops Garzoni’s bouquets have luminous backdrops.
Profiling the Madonna
Reflectographic image of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, with graphic relief in green. This profile, placed on top of other images of women by Nelli, proves the artist used the same cartoon for multiple paintings.
Apostle adopters and major sponsors with Last Supper copy
When Nelli’s Last Supper was removed from the friars’ refectory at Santa Maria Novella, AWA promised a life-size replica would be gifted to the Dominican Community to make up for their loss. AWA’s top donors unroll the gift at inauguration.
Ponte Vecchio and the Arno
A shot of the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio. It’s covered passageway, known as the Vasari Corridor, once hosted the Uffizi’s Self-Portrait Collection, which comprises many female portraits from various centuries.
Hands-on treatment for Duclos Mother and Child
Detail of the painting in raking light in which you can see the uneven roughness of the pictorial surface with missing painting, wrinkles, lifts in the canvas and traces of the previous conservation treatment.
Duomo by night. Its dome, engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi some 260 years after its construction began, is the crowning glory of Florence’s namesake Cathedral, known as Santa Maria del Fiore.
Inspired by a young poet
This sculpture was commissioned by Louise Favreau’s parents, after her death at age 17.Although they originally wished it to be displayed inside the basilica’s Medici Chapel, it is now located in cloister’s upper loggia.
Layers of grime lifted away
Conservator Elizabeth Wicks executes cleaning test on Violante Ferroni’s Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims. Centuries of dust, grime and old varnish are removed via a painstaking process.
Artemisia Gentileschi’s Allegory of Inclination
An allegorical figure painted by Artemisia Gentileschi in 1615. It commemorates Michelangelo’s ‘Inclination’ for art. Artemisia was paid three times her male counterparts to create her angel, part of a 15-piece series completed by several artists.
Searching for ‘early’ Nelli
AWA Director L. Falcone studies Codexes at in storage of the San Marco Museum. They features the earliest example of Nelli’s art, as the artist began by painting miniatures in choral books at her convent of Santa Caterina.
A sister portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici
Eighteenth-century portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici at CR Firenze in Florence, monumental stairwell, first floor. This depiction was compared to its similar Palazzo Vecchio version, during its restoration, completed in 2018.
A golden dedication
Gold cartouche with dedication, under the frame of CR Firenze’s portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, in via Bufalini. The last Medici Princess was well-loved in Florence, to which she bequeathed her entire estate.
Capturing comparisons on film
Filmmaker K. Hills documenting portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici at Ente CR Firenze, in order to compare it with sister portrait from Palazzo Vecchio, in restoration studio, 2017. Both paintings were painted after her death.
Pre-restoration, Nelli’s Annunciation
Nelli’s Annunciation (attributed), pre restoration. The painting was characterized by yellowing varnish and stains. Old pictorial restorations that had altered over time needed to be corrected.
What lies beneath
Reflectography of Plautilla Nelli’s Lamentation with Saints from Italy’s National Institute of Applied Optics which allowed researchers to view Nelli’s charcoal preparatory drawing underneath the painting layer.
Piquing interest in Nelli
Museum curator F. Navarro and AWA founder J. Fortune reveal Nelli’s lunettes. Dr. Navarro would go on to study a wide-ranging series of Nelli attributions and curate the artist’s monographic show at the Uffizi in 2017.
The process on camera for ‘Monuments Women’
Zeroing in on Mrs. Della Ragione’s bronze portrait by twentieth-century sculptor Antonietta Rafael Mafai, restored at the hands of AWA conservator Merj Nesi, Museo Novecento. Docufilm during filming for Monuments Women.
Medici ballroom welcomes ‘Monuments Women’
Film director G. Carreri and S. Casciu, Director of the Tuscan Regional Museum Circuit led AWA on a tour of Medici Villa La Petraia, centered on art by women. The courtyard-style ballroom was TV ready, captured on film, for Monuments Women.
‘Secret music’ for Plautilla
British ensemble Musica Secreta, specialized in convent choral music from Nelli’s era performs at the inauguration of the artist’s Crucifixion at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto (see fresco in the background).
Meeting of the minds, for Nelli attribution
In her Oltrarno studio, conservator R. Lari debates painting attribution with City and Superintendent curators S. Pini and J. Cellani and AWA Director L. Falcone. Once on display in Palazzo Vecchio, the painting was credited to Nelli’s workshop.
Leaving a trace
Conservator R. Lari traces Nelli’s Palazzo Vecchio painting to see if more detailed studies are necessary. The final aim? To compare this painting with the Uffizi’s Annunciation, also believed to be from Nelli’s school.
Conservator R. Lari reflects on the placement of Saint Catherine Receives the Stigmata. It is to be moved to accommodate the Crucifixion, whose restoration completes the series by Nelli at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto.
Precautionary measures for Plautilla’s Annunciation
R. Lari disinfests frame, as a precautionary measure to avoid the nesting of xylophagous insects. The Annunciation waits in the background.
Conservator and saint
Pictorial restoration using watercolor on stucco. The intent is to correct spaces separating the panels comprising Nelli’s Saint Catherine Receives the Stigmata. They are horizontal, unlike the vast majority of panels from Nelli’s era.
Printing of exhibition catalog ARTISTE. Women Artists, Florence 1900-1950, September 2018, Polistampa. The show was organized by AWA and Fondazione CR Firenze.
Kudos to the author
Author and AWA founder Jane Fortune celebrates the second edition of her book, To Florence, con Amore: 90 Ways to Love the City at the historic ‘Rotunda’ in via il Prato, with The Florentine Press.
Elisabeth Chaplin’s The Three Sisters, pre-restoration
A grayish layer of deposited environmental dirt puts a damper on the artist’s usually colorful palette. The canvas had warped over time and the whole surface was characterized by missing paint flakes and fragmented color.
Saint Dominic restored
Post-restoration. Nelli’s scene recalls Saint Dominic’s mother who dreamed she would give birth to a torch-carrying dog. It was seen as a symbol for Dominic whose teachings would light up the world.
Audience awaits screening of ‘When the World Answered’
The audience awaits the first-ever screening of When the World Answered, PBS documentary featuring AWA’s work in Florence, continuing the restoration tradition surrounding the 1966 flood—from a female perspective.
Souvenir with Franco Zeffirelli
Film director F. Zeffirelli at his Roman villa, during an interview with When the World Answered authors L. Falcone and J. Fortune. Whilst filming PBS documentary of the same name, troupe assistant K. Morikawa joins the souvenir photo.
Inauguration night with curator Cristina Gnoni
Curator Cristina Gnoni led the restoration of Nelli’s Crucifixion. She welcomes guests on inauguration night, at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto, where the painting is displayed in the former monastery’s ‘kitchen’.
Up her sleeve
A detail of the oil-on-canvas portrait of the Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici the family’s last descendent, decorative details of ornate sleeve.
A portrait in pearls
Detail, of the oil-on-canvas work that was compared to similar Palazzo Vecchio portrait, restored by AWA in 2018. Known as the ‘Sage Princess’, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici’s face is framed by ornate pearl jewelry.
The Sage Princess
Pre restoration. The portrait’s pictorial surface was affected by darkened, yellowing varnish which had altered over time making the image dishomogeneous and reducing its readability.
Tracing the Palatine Princess
Conservator Rossella Lari tracing portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, oil on canvas, at the Fondazione CR Firenze, to compare it with sister portrait at Palazzo Vecchio, restored in 2018.
Searching for a painting’s origins
Tracing portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici at Fondazione CR Firenze. Via this research, scholars began the process to confirm the similar Palazzo Vecchio depiction AWA restored in 2017 was painted off the same drawing.
Research 101 for Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici
Palazzo Vecchio curator S. Pini and conservator L. Lari execute preliminary study on Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, pre infra-red reflectography analysis (Fondazione CR Firenze).
A portrait and preliminary research
Curator and conservator verifying the similarities between two portraits at Palazzo Vecchio and Fondazione CR Firenze; preliminary studies prior reflectography analysis.
Researchers comparing two Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici portraits at Palazzo Vecchio and Fondazione CR Firenze. At this stage, it appears they were likely painted off the same cartoon.
Discoveries hidden behind transparencies
Preliminary analysis. Before executing infra-red reflectography, restorer L. Lari compares two Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici portraits by tracing on transparencies (Palazzo Vecchio and Ente CR Firenze).
Monumental frame, Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici at Fondazione CR Firenze. The upper part of the frame depicts two high coat of arms with ornate carvings on both sides.
Inscription for the Electress Palatine
Gold cartouche, under the frame of Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici at Fondazine CR Firenze. It’s twin painting at Palazzo Vecchio, restored in 2018 has a similar dedication.
Annae Mariae, detail
Gold cartouche, under the frame of Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici at Fondazine CR Firenze. The last Medici heir was famous for her ‘Pact of the Family’ by which she left her art and property to the City of Florence.
Mayor Nardella welcomes AWA sojourners
Florence Mayor D. Nardella welcomes major donor D. Clark and AWA Sojourners to Palazzo Vecchio. Also pictured in foreground B. Hunt and M. Laurens.
The mayor, the princess, the sojourners
AWA sojourners with Florence Mayor Dario Nardella, in his reception room at Palazzo Vecchio, posing in front of newly restored Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici.
A widow in the ‘German fashion’
Full view of oil-on-canvas portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici. The portrait shows the Princess wearing her widow’s veil, a dress with lace ornaments in the German fashion, perhaps acquired from Düsseldorf.
Florence mayor and vice mayor visit work-in-progress
AWA with Mayor Dario Nardella and Vice Mayor Cristina Giachi in R. Lari’s restoration studio to visit work-in-progress. The portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici was displayed in the Mayor’s reception room as Palazzo Vecchio months later (2018).
A friendly pose with the Princess
Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici ‘stands’ between Florence Mayor Dario Nardella and conservator Rosslla Lari. Stucco work is visible on the in-progress painting that is now displayed at Palazzo Vecchio (2018).
A new attribution?
J. Celani, S. Pini and R. Lari discuss Plautilla Nelli’s Annunciation. AWA’s restorations are led by museum curators and superintendent officials which guide each phase of the process.
Devotional work under scrutiny
J. Celani and S. Pini and R. Lari discuss Plautilla Nelli’s Annunciation in comparison with its ‘twin work’ in storage as part of the Uffizi Galleries collection. Its fifteenth-century style was common among devotional painters of Nelli’s era.
Examining architecture in Nelli attribution
S. Pini, curator for Palazzo Vecchio Museum in Florence views Nelli’s Annunciation at R. Lari’s workshop. Post restoration, the painting was displayed in the palace’s mezzanine.
Patrons see Nelli attribution up-close
AWA’s Board and Advisory Council view Nelli’s Annunciation before it leaves R. Lari’s restoration studio. From front to back: D. Volpini Maestri, D. Clark, M. MacKinnon, C. Clark, A. Vogler.
A preparatory matter
Conservator R. Lari, in studio. Phase one of the restoration process: Creating a base using watercolor, prior application of varnish.
Restoring a place of prayer
Conservator Rossella Lari restoring arch of portico where the Virgin Mary is praying, when visited by the Archangel Gabriel.
Cleaning in time for Christmas
Conservator Rossella Lari executes first stages of cleaning process on Nelli’s Annunciation which will presented as a Christmas gift to the City of Florence in 2017.
Conservator Rossella Lari executes watercolor integration of missing flakes of color on Nelli’s Annunciation. A painstaking process.
Detail, Nelli’s Annunciation: Veiled
Detail, face of the Madonna. Lightness of veil, painted with sparse brushstrokes. This work was attributed to Nelli by US Scholar C. Turrill-Lupi, as one of the two Annunciations that Giorgio Vasari cites in his Lives.
Crimson shades for Nelli’s Madonna
Nelli’s Annunciation, post restoration detail. The red coverlet on the Virgin Mary’s bed is visible in the background. According to art traditions, she receives news of Christ’s conception while in her room reading Scripture.
Nelli’s drapery, a chiaroscuro study
Nelli’s Annunciation, Post restoration, detail. The draping of the Virgin Mary’s robes is executed with a marked chiaroscuro technique. In many of her works, Nelli pays close attention to robe-work.
Having second thoughts
In this pre-restoration detail of Nelli’s heavily cracked Annunciation, note the six fingers on the right hand! The artist did not properly erase her ‘second thoughts’ or ‘pentimento’. The left hand is placed over the right, a true rarity.
A colorful conversation
Post-restoration. The iridescent colors of the Angel’s cloak and sleeves bring out the nuances in his wings, which are a ‘throwback’ to the reds of the Madonna’s robes. The artist achieves chromatic balance.
The Annunciation angel
The gravity of the Annunciation announcement is rendered more poignant by Archangel Gabriel’s serious profile. He is holding a lily, a flower commonly featured in Nelli’s work.
Rich draping emphasizes message
The richness of the Angel’s robes creates luminosity that reflects the strength of his announcement, in juxtaposition with the simplicity of the Madonna’s robe.
Restoration of Nelli’s Annunciation allowed conservator R. Lari to study the artist’s techniques. Each single feathers is rendered with subtle white brushstrokes, superimposed over her base colors.
Nelli’s Annunciation, as colors emerge full-force
Detail of Angel’s robes, Nelli’s Annunciation. Once the painting was cleaned and restored, its colors acquired depth and three-dimensional plasticity.
Post-cleaning. A rare example of architectural detail in Nelli’s oeuvre. The capital’s details are well-studied with shading that establishes prospective.
Ownership across centuries
Coat of arms in gold and black. According to US art historian C. Turril-Lupi, the painting possibly belonged to the wife of A. De Fedini. Frame restored by Florentine conservator F. Spagnoli.
Black and gold, forever the fashion
Detail, Plautilla Nelli’s Annunciation. Frame restored by Florentine conservator F. Spagnoli. Back and gold decorations, typical of 16th and 17th century styles.
Final harmony for Nelli’s Annunciation
Final pictorial restoration to harmonize the overall look of Nelli’s Annunciation. The tiny cracks and crevices in the painting were not filled to avoid adding heaviness to the painting’s texture.
Conservator R. Lari cleans Nelli’s Annunciation. Note the Brunelleschi-style columns and arches of her indoor ‘Florentine’ scene, where the Madonna receives the Archangel Gabriel.
A balancing act
Florentine conservator R. Lari works on Nelli’s Annunciation, a work attributed to the painter by US Scholar C. Turrill-Lupi, as one of the two that Giorgio Vasari sites in his Lives.
Nelli’s Annunciation is covered with a sheet of melinex, to execute preliminary tracing studies that will help researchers compare the painting with another at the Uffizi, also attributed to Nelli.
Nelli’s Annunciation from above
Painting positioned horizontally, prior tracing so that it could be compared to a second Annunciation also attributed to Nelli, in storage at the Uffizi Galleries’ external deposit.
Graphic relief for Nelli
R. Lari traces The Annunciation, creating a graphic relief which will be compared to the second painting on the same theme, attributed to Nelli, in storage at the Uffizi Galleries. Weights keep the Melinex from sliding.
Transparent architecture for Nelli comparison
Conservator R. Lari examines Melinex film. Architectural elements are visible in this tracing of Nelli’s Palazzo Vecchio painting. This handmade graphic was compared to the Uffizi Galleries’ Annunciation, also attributed to Nelli.
Nelli’s Annunciation, chemically disinfested
Perxil was used on Nelli’s Annunciation, to chemically disinfest the panel painting. The same substance was applied to the wood frame.
Brushing up on Nelli
Nelli’s Annunciation waits in the background while conservator R. Lari uses Perxil to disinfest its wooden frame. Several coats proved necessary to complete the process.
Nelli’s Annunciation, restored
Post restoration, Nelli’s Annunciation acquired luminosity and depth. It is exhibited in Palazzo Vecchio’s mezzanine, once quarters of Cosimo I de’ Medici, who was Duke of Tuscany in Nelli’s time.
Nelli’s Annunciation was exhibited in the artist’s monographic Uffizi show in 2017. Prior display, R. Lari did stucco work to fill holes made by woodworms. After the exhibition, it was returned to the studio for pictorial conservation.
Potions for repair
A conservators cupboard, with products and portions from every era, often from the 13th century onwards, modern inventions include ‘artificial saliva’.
Brushing it off
Brushes in R. Lari’s conversation studio, divided by size and function: Dust removal, pictorial restoration and varnishing.
Nelli’s work displayed in medieval quarters
Nelli’s Annunciation, displayed. This portion of Palazzo Vecchio was not renovated by Cosimo I de’ Medici in the 1540s, so it exudes a medieval feel. Nelli’s work is displayed in the portion of the palace that hosts the Loeser Bequest.
A bronze gaze
Conservator M. Nesi cleans Portrait of Mrs. Della Ragione by Antonietta Raphael Mafai. Interestingly the artist signed it with her maiden name, De Simon (1959).
Conservator Merj Nesi executes restoration onsite in the loggia of Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum. She cleans the bronze surface using a cotton swab.
Open for questions
AWA conservator Merj Nesi carried out the restoration of Mrs. Della Ragione on the first-floor loggia of Florence’s Museo Novecento. Visitors could ask questions about the process and school groups gathered for ‘restoration lessons’.
Green and rust
By studying Raphael Mafai’s notebooks, Nesi made an important discovery: ‘The artist wanted her statues to have their greenish or rusty effects. I realized she was aiming for the varied textures and colors that only corrosion can provide.’
Layer by layer
Conservation on-site at Museo Novecento. To reach desired level of cleaning, conservator Merj Nesi used a magnifying glass and passed over the statue with cotton swabs several times.
On its way out
Plautlla Nelli’s Saint Dominic Receives the Rosary displayed at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. Its sister lunette, The Crucifixion awaits transport to R. Lari’s restoration studio in Florence’s Oltrarno district.
Stucco work minimizes
Saint Dominic’s wooden support was originally restored in 1995 by R. Olivastri who reassembled the panels, as Nelli’s lunette is made up of several blanks. During pictorial restoration, R. Lari’ stucco work minimizes spacing.
Finishing the second half
Cleaning. During removal of thick darkened varnish and old pictorial restorations. Surfaces were partially restored in 1999; a decade later, R. Lari completes the process.
A microscopic cleaning
Conservator R. Lari cleans Saint Catherine Receives the Stigmata, while working under a optical microscope. With a scalpel, she removes layers that overlay Nelli’s original. Saint Dominic Receives the Rosary plays backdrop.
Doubts before beginning
Nelli’s Saint Catherine was darkened by a thick patina and large drops of excess paint. Non original layers had been removed in the past, causing peeling. It was so damaged curators hesitated approving conservation efforts.
The imitation game
Post restoration, detail of Saint Catherine’s face. Conservator R. Lari harmonized her face using imitation techniques to minimize the effects of paint loss.
Oltrarno artisan upholds traditions
Frame maker L. Mecocci constructs frame for Nelli’s Saint Dominic at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. The lunette was frame-less and inside a niche. It was crafted and designed to reflect the tastes of Nelli’s time.
Divine light restored
Two points of light in the painting shine forth, post restoration. The sun’s rays illuminate the sky in fanlike brushstrokes typical of Nelli. The Divine Light, once hidden by grime, is now the visible source of the Saint’s stigmata.
Museum curator F. Navarro and AWA founder J. Fortune present Nelli’s lunettes, at autumn unveiling at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. Both paintings presented were comissioned by Suor Arcangela Viola in the 1570s.
The quest for Nelli’s art continues
AWA founder Jane Fortune admires newly restored lunette by her muse and inspiration: Plautilla Nelli. Advancing Women Artists has played a fundamental role in safeguarding Nelli’s body of works for posterity.
AWA founder Jane Fortune revels in newly restored Catherine. The lunette’s placement was not as high as the artist originally intended, yet curators displayed the work at a height that did not substantially alter Nelli’s intended perspective.
When paintings move
A newly restored Nelli, displayed in the corridor at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. The panels in Saint Catherine’s lunette still show signs of warping, as wood ‘moves’ with the passing of centuries.
Canvas in need of care
Pre-restoration. Through analysis, conservator R. Lari discovered that Chaplin’s canvas had been created using a different support and placed on its current stretcher only later.
Pre-conservation diagnostics for Chaplin’s The Three Sisters. Raking lights emphasizes canvas warping and cracks on the pictorial surface.
In the news
Presentation of new pocket guide, Art by Women in Florence: A Guide through 500 Years. AWA’ seminal text: Invisible Women Forgotten Artists of Florence in the background.
A pocket guide, presented
The Florentine and Advancing Women Artists present Art by Women in Florence: A Guide through 500 Years, at Santa Croce’s Sala del Cenacolo, October 15, 2012. A pocket guide with Women’s Artist Trail map, first of its kind.
A book launch below Gaddi’s Tree of Life
Presenting the guidebook. Art by Women in Florence: A Guide through 500 Years. AWA Advocate V. Grossi Orzalesi at the podium. Sala del Cenacolo, Santa Croce. Taddeo Gaddi’s Last Supper fresco presiding.
Speakers at Santa Croce listen
Art by Women in Florence: A Guide through 500 Years (The Florentine Press, 2012). Co-authors Linda Falcone and Jane Fortune on the speaker’s panel at Santa Croce book presentation, October 2012.
Where art happens in the Oltrarno
J. Fortune, S.N. Kraczyna and L. Falcone at Fondazione Il Bisonte, center ‘on the other side fof the river’ specialized in print-making, during filming 2014 PBS documentary When the World Answered: Florence, Women Artists and the 1966 Flood.
Cameraman V. Manganello captures art-in-action at Fondazione Il Bisonte during filming for the 2014 Emmy-nominated television special When the World Answered: Florence Women Artists and the 1966 Flood.
Anticipation for Invisible Women presentation
November 6, 2009, author Jane Fortune awaits presentation of her book Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence at the Uffizi Gallery Library, with Director Claudio Di Benedetto.
An Uffizi welcome for ‘Invisible Women’
Presentation of J. Fortune’s Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence, Uffizi Library, 2009. C. Acidini, Superintendent of Florence’s Museum Circuit (Polo Museale Fiorentino) introduces the publication.
IW fans and friends at the Uffizi Library
Uffizi Library, November 2009. The public enjoys the launch of J. Fortune’s Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence. Front-row: AWA Advocate T. Carrari, journalist E. Duranti, The Florentine editor-in-chief, M. Badiani.
A debut, with Jane Fortune and Invisible Women
J. Fortune welcomes guests as Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence makes its public debut at the Uffizi Library in Florence. A seminal text, with the first-ever inventory of art by women in Florence. (The Florentine Press, 2009).
Uffiz book launch
J. Fortune flanked by co-author L. Falcone presents Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence at the Uffizi Library, November 2009.
Forgotten artists of Florence, in a book
Jane Fortune presents Invisible Women at the Uffizi Library with co-author L. Falcone, Superintendent of Museum Circuit, C. Acidini and Uffizi Library Director, C. Di Benedetto. The man pictured behind the camera: AWA co-founder R. Hesse.
Florence welcomes Invisible Women
Invisible Women author J. Fortune, Uffizi Library Director C. Benedetto and Florence Museum Circuit Superintendent C. Acidini celebrate the book’s launch at the Uffizi Library, November 2009.
A Happy event for Florence
Invisible Women author J. Fortune, Uffizi Library Director C. Benedetto and Florence Museum Circuit Superintendent C. Acidini celebrate the book’s launch at the Uffizi Library, November 2009.
English-speaking publications with Florence flair
Uffizi Library, Florence. 2009. The public awaits the presentation of Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence, published by The Florentine Press, also creator of The Florentine, Tuscany’s English-language newspaper.
Meeting the author
AWA founders J. Fortune and R. Hesse welcome a fan of Fortune’s book Invisible Women at the Uffizi Library launch, The Florentine editor-in-chief M. Badiani (also co-owner of TF Press) and digital marketer A. Korey look on.
Better in print
Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence by J. Fortune. The Florentine Press, 2009. The book, sent to the printers here, became an Emmy-winning documentary in 2013.
Women Artists’ Trail
Printing Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence by J. Fortune. Published by The Florentine Press, 2009. ‘The Women’s Artists’ Trail’, included at the back, is the first-ever inventory of art by women in the Florentine State Museums.
Neighborhood book chat
Saturday at Florence’s English-language bookshop, the Paperback Exchange. Jane Fortune gives a talk about the book Invisible Women with co-author L. Falcone.
More ways to love the city
J. Fortune and L. Falcone at The Florentine press office in Florence’s via dei Banchi, editing the proofs of Fortune’s luxury guide book To Florence con Amore, reprinted in 2013, with ‘13 more ways to love the city’.
Celebrating To Florence Con Amore, 13 ways
Author J. Fortune at the launch of To Florence, con Amore: 90 Ways to Love the City (a reprint from an earlier edition). Editor L. Falcone and publisher M. Badiani from TF Press, flank the author at the historic rotunda in via Il Prato.
Flowers for Florence
A publicity shot of J. Fortune’s To Florence, con Amore: 90 Ways to Love the City during its launch in 2013 (a reprint from an earlier edition featuring ’77 ways’). A celebration at Florence’s historic ‘rotunda’ in via Il Prato.
In Pontormo’s shadow
The Florentine presents the launch of When the World Answered at the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Europe’s historic academy whose first female member was Artemisia Gentileschi in 1616. A fresco by Pontormo in the background.
Europe’s first drawing academy welcomes ‘When the World Answers’
Audience members at the book launch of When the World Answered: Florence, Women Artists and the 1966 Flood at the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, which has accepted female members since the early 1600s.
Playbill When the World Answered
October 20, 2015, the Odeon Theater in Florence’s Piazza Strozzi welcomes the world premiere of When the World Answered, an American Public Television special based on the book by the same name.
It’s opening night for ‘When the World Answered’
Guests await the world premiere of When the World Answered, a documentary TV special on Florence, Women Artists and the 1966 flood, created by WFYI Media, Kim Jacobs and Clayton Taylor producers.
Premiere co-hosts 2015
October 2015 premiere for When the World Answered TV special, based on a book on AWA’s work by The Florentine Press. The Florentine plays co-host with managing editor H. Farrell, co-owner G. Giusti and editor M. Gray.
A premiere evening for Florence
A sold-out premiere, in support of AWA’s work in Florence, as art aficionados ‘lined up’ to see ‘When the World Answered’ PBS TV documentary based on J. Fortune and L. Falcone’s book. (WFYI Media).
A full House for ‘When the World Answered’
The Odeon Firenze audience watches ‘the Flood Ladies story’ at the premiere of the documentary When the World Answered, spotlighting AWA’s restoration of art by female artists who gifted their works to Florence after the 1966 flood.
‘The Florentine’ welcome
Marco Badiani, Editor in Chief at The Florentine and co-owner of The Florentine Press, congratulates authors L. Falcone and J. Fortune, on stage during the premiere of PBS documentary When the World Answered, based on their 2014 book.
When the World Answered authors on premiere night
Authors Jane Fortune and Linda Falcone leaving the question-answer session at the world premiere of When the World Answered, at Florence’s Odeon. AWA’s work is center-stage in the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, created around their 2014 book.
The premiere panel
S. Funaro, Councilor for Equal Opportunity at premiere of When the World Answered. On stage:Author L. Falcone, Tuscan RC President E. Giani, author J. Fortune, S. Funaro, US Consulate Programs Manager K.Rakich and US Consul General A. Rupp.
Welcoming premiere guests
Author L. Falcone welcomes guests at premiere of When the World Answered, on stage with Tuscan President E. Giani, author J. Fortune, Equal Opportunity Councilor S. Funaro, US Consulate Programs Manager K. Rakich and US Consul General A. Rupp.
On the silver screen
Always an advocate to safeguard and display art by women, author and AWA founder Jane Fortune on the silver screen at the world premiere of When the World Answered in Florence.
Folks behind the book
Co-hosts The Florentine at world premiere of When the World Answered in Florence, the documentary. The folks behind the book: The Florentine Press co-owners M. Badiani, G. Giusti and L. Cardini, with managing editor H. Farrell.
Author and AWA founder Jane Fortune with her a regional Emmy Award, earned in 2013 for Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence, the documentary based her book by the same name. (Producers T. Gould, C. Taylor, WFYI Public Media).
In the heart of Florence, Santa Croce
G. De Micheli, Segretariat of Opera di Santa Croce, discusses the 1966 flood in the city’s hardest-hit locations with J. Fortune and L. Falcone during filming of When the World Answered, PBS documentary produced by K. Jacobs and C. Taylor.
Words on film
Producer K. Jacobs and cinematographer V. Manganello with G. De Micheli, from Opera di Santa Croce, and authors as they discuss the 1966 Florence flood. Filming of When the World Answered, PBS documentary 2015 (WFYI Public Media).
Curator iInterviews at Museo Novecento
Interviewing museum curators V. Gensini and A. Nesi (in red) during filming of Emmy-nominated When the World Answered, PBS television special, on the first-floor loggia of Florence’s Museo Novecento. Troupe led by producer K. Jacobs.
Calling from the rooftops
J. Fortune interviews A. Bargellini, as she describes November 1966, as daughter of ‘Flood’ Mayor P. Bargellini. In documentary When the World Answered, Bargellini recounts rooftop cries as citizens grappled with the fate of flooded Florence.
Meeting the Maestro
AWA co-founders J. Fortune and R. Hesse with film director F. Zeffirelli, at his Roman villa, during a 2014 interview for When the World Answered, about the maestro’s real-time documentary Per Firenze, documenting the 1966 flood.
A tea with Zeffirelli
Author L. Falcone and AWA co-founder R. Hesse chat with Florentine film director F. Zeffirelli, sharing thoughts on the 1966 flood, which he immortalized in Days of Destruction. During filming of When the World Answered, TV special.
Film director Franco Zeffirelli has a look at When the World Answered, the book, pre-filming the documentary by the same name (WFYI Public Media). Pictured with AWA co-founders J. Fortune and R. Hesse and AWA director L. Falcone.
Interview with Franco Zeffirelli
In Rome with Franco Zeffirelli. US producer K. Jacobs interviews famed film director, for her 2015 documentary When the World Answers, troupe and co-authors J. Fortune and L. Falcone look on. (V. Manganello on camera).
Producer Kim Jacobs poses with Maestro Zeffirelli
Producer Kim Jacobs with Florentine film director Franco Zeffirelli, after an interview in his Roman home for Emmy-nominated When the World Answered, a documentary on Florence, Women Artists and the 1966 by WFYI Public Media.
US Consulate in Florence hosts ‘Invisible Women’
AWA’s Emmy nomination for Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence (2013) was received just ten days after the program’s screening at the US Consulate in Florence. J. Fortune speaks at event hosted by Consul General Sarah Morrison.
See the invisible
Invisible Women co-authors L. Falcone and J. Fortune on stage at the Odeon Theater in Florence with US Consul General Sarah Morrison. The full-house screening was a celebration of the documentary’s Emmy-win, weeks earlier in June 2013.
Questions for ‘Invisible Women’
A full house for Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence, the Emmy-winning documentary based on the book. In June, 2013 co-authors L. Falcone and Jane Fortune took the stage with Consul General Sarah Morrison for a Q-and-A session.
It’s opening night at the Odeon with AWA Cultural rep L. Jmaeff, AWA founder J. Fortune and organization director L. Falcone, as they await the Florence premiere of Invisible Women… to see ‘the Invisible’, as the billboard suggests.
Consul General S. Morrison discusses IW debut
US Consul General S. Morrison, with authors J. Fortune and L. Falcone during Q-A Session after Odeon screening of Emmy-winning Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence.
Crowds come together for ‘Invisible Women’
June 25, 2013. Summer sweltering for the crowds who came to see the Odeon premiere of Emmy-winning Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence. A full house for art by women and AWA’s rescue work in Florence.
Palazzo Tornabuoni hosts ‘When the World Answered’
L. Falcone presenting When the World Answered, with co-author J. Fortune. Palazzo Tornabuoni hosts the signing, an event to remember the female artists who donated ‘new works’ to replace the 14,000 damaged during the Arno’s flooding.
Viewing Nelli’s manuscript at San Marco
AWA director L. Falcone studying sixteenth-century manuscript with Plautilla Nelli’s earliest artwork. Inside San Marco Museum, whilst filming Monuments Women, documentary for Italian TV, produced by laeffe-TV, G. Carreri, director.
‘Monuments Women’ premiere
AWA and Natia Docufilm at premiere screening of Monuments Women. 39th ‘Festival Internazionale di Cinema e Donne’, Teatro della Compagnia. Episode 2 of an eight-part series called ‘Noi Siamo Cultura’ (We are culture) features AWA and its work.
‘We are culture’
AWA advocates T. Carrari, S. Barker, L. Jmaeff, P. Masse, J. Strazzulla at the premiere of the TV special, Monuments Women, Episode Two of an 8-part docu-film series ‘Noi Siamo Cultura’, released November 2017.
AWA at cinema festival for and by women
AWA peeks out from the Silver Screen at Florentine cinema festival with Monuments Women. L. Falcone speaks at inaugural festivities of the 39th edition of ‘Festival Internazionale di Cinema e Donne’. (laeffe TV, director: Giuseppe Carreri.
Festival debut for ‘Monuments Women’
Monuments Women director Giuseppe Carreri followed AWA through Tuscany to track down invisible women artists. L. Falcone on screen at Teatro della Compagnia premiere, during 39th international festival ‘Cinema and Women’.
Portraits in the attic
AWA in the attic at Medici villa Cerreto Giudi scouting out works by twentieth-century artist Emma Bardini, during filming of Monuments Women, a for-Sky documentary, produced by leeffe TV and directed by G. Carreri.
Flood Lady Paola Troise speaks
2014 at the newly opened Museo Novecento, whilst filming When the World Answered. Producer K. Jacobs leads interview with authors J. Fortune and L. Falcone and Flood Lady artist Paola Troise (in red).
On canvas, on camera: Views of Olevano
Whilst filming Monuments Women, Natia Docufilm followed AWA and its many partners on the trail of Research, Restoration and Exhibition. On camera: Antonietta Rafael Mafai’s View of Olveano at the Museo Novecento, restored 2014.
Merj Nesi on film, Restoring bronze
Director G. Carreri heads Natia Docufilm during filming of Monuments Women, Italian TV special. AWA’s featured conservator: Merj Nesi, with twentieth-century bronze by Antonietta Rafael Mafai, at Museo Novecento.
Zeroing in on Merj Nesi’s conservation work
AWA conservator M. Nesi restorers sculpture by Antonietta Rafael Mafai for display at Florence’s Museo Novecento. The in-museum conservation treatment was filmed for Monuments Women, an Italian TV documentary in 2017.
Lights, camera, action…
Filmmaker Giuseppe Carreri and crew with S. Casciu, director of the Tuscan Regional Museum Circuit and AWA director L. Falcone. Filming on location for Monuments Women, at Villa La Petraia, a Medici ‘secret’ whose collection boasts female artists.
Lighting on-screen at villa La Petraia
Natia Docufilm crew corrects lighting while S. Casciu, director of the Tuscan Regional Museum Circuit awaits ‘Action!’ at Medici Villa, La Petraia, one location featured in Monuments Women, produced by laeffe TV.
Museum circuit director is TV-ready
Tuscan Regional Museum Circuit director S. Casciu interviewed by director G. Carreri during filming of Monuments Women at Villa La Petraia. The program was Episode Two of the ‘Noi siamo cultura’ series on Sky.
‘Contemporary passions’ at Il Palmerino
Lecture ‘Contemporary Passions and Invisible Women’ organized by Il Palmerino with author J. Fortune and C. Acidini Superintendent of Florence’s Polo Museale (Museum Circuit). Mediators: Il Palmerino advocate S. Cenni and AWA director L. Falcone.
Conservator R. Lari and AWA director L. Falcone at the restoration lab with a mud-caked artwork, damaged in the 1966 flood Florence flood, during filming of PBS TV special When the World Answered.
Dedication for filmmaker D. Battistella
Co-author L. Falcone signs When the World Answered for Florence-based Canadian filmmaker D. Battistella at Palazzo Tornbuoni book-signing, autumn 2015.
A ‘twentieth-century’ audience
Audience during presentation of When the World Answered: Florence Women Artists and the 1966 Flood by J. Fortune and L. Falcone (The Florentine Press, 2014) at Florence’s newly opened Museo Novecento.
Everything might be different
‘Everything might be different’, the neon message by artist Maurizio Nannucci seen from the courtyard of Florence’s Museo Novecento is a relevant mantra for AWA, in its quest to rediscover art history’s forgotten half.
Evening falls on ‘Twentieth century’
Evening falls on Florence’s Museo Novecento, during the presentation of When the World Answered, the book featuring numerous ‘flood ladies’ whose works AWA restored to the museum spotlight.
Florence’s Museo Novecento welcomes ‘When the World Answers’
Presenting When the World Answered at the Museo Novecento. Speakers: Museum curators A. Nesi and V. Gensini with authors J. Fortune and L. Falcone, AWA advocate M. Psicharis interpreting. Recently restored Maternity by A. Ciardi Dupre.
Vice Mayor Giachi presents WTWA at Museo Novecento
In the courtyard of Florence’s Museo Novecento. Vice Mayor Cristina Giachi presents the book When the World Answers which chronicles the story of several works by ‘Flood Ladies’ in the city’s art collection.
Vice Mayor presents Florence, Women Artists and 1966 Flood
Vice Mayor Cristina Giachi presents When the World Answered, the 2014 book by J. Fortune and L. Falcone which chronicles the restoration of several artworks gifted to the Museo Novecento after the 1966 flood.
The cover covered in mud
In 1966, the Arno’s flooding submerged Florence in 14,000 of mud. This book cover, designed by M. Badiani, features ‘Flood Lady’ Lea Colliva’s self-portrait. She is one of many women who gifted their art to the city. Her story and more told in WTWA.
Nelli’s Crucifixion, restored
Plautilla Nelli’s restored Crucifixion, originally hosted at Certosa di Galluzo, was reunited with its sister lunettes featuring Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine, at the The Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto.
Wood wedges strengthen Nelli’s panel painting
Nelli’s Crucifixion, back of the panel, restored by wood conservator Roberto Buda, who inserted wedges between each of the panels that make up the lunette’s structure.
Signature from the past
The name written in pencil on the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion is dated 1889 and could indicate a previous restoration project.
This carved symbol on the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion is thought to be the logo the woodworker who prepared the panel. It is similar to the one found on the back of the artist’s lunette featuring Saint Dominic.
Dearly departing: The move from San Salvi to the studio
Conservator R. Lari oversees the transport of P. Nelli’s Crucifixion from the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto to her studio. Nelli’s two other lunettes depicting Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine watch the move in autumn 2017.
‘It’s a wrap’
Art movers from Arternativa and Apice in the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto, as they wrap Plautilla Nelli’s Crucifixion, the final lunette of the series authored in the 1570s. From here, the panel will go to the restoration studio.
The ‘waiting room’
Plautilla Nelli’s soon-to-be restored Crucifixion awaits in the main hall of the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. It will soon be packed for transport and restored so that it can join its sister lunettes, also by Nelli, on display here.
Nelli’s Saint Dominic stands guard
Nelli’s Saint Dominic plays ‘guardian angel’ to the artist’s Crucifixion, as it awaits transport. Both works were commissioned by prioress Arcangela Viola and are a unique example of female patronage inside a sixteenth-century convent.
Lari sees Plautilla Nelli’s past and future
Conservator R. Lari at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. Nelli’s Crucifixion has been packed up and is ready to be taken to her atelier for restoration.The artist’s Saint Dominic, a work Lari restored in 2009, presides.
Consul Wohlauer praises US-Italy art ties at Nelli inaugural
US Consul General in Florence Ben Wohlauer welcomes guests at the unveiling of Plautilla Nelli’s newly restored Crucifixion. Andrea del Sarto’s Last Supper in the background gives its name to the Florence Museum.
AWA Sojourners celebrate their support of Nelli’s Crucifixion
Honored guests at unveiling of Nelli’s newly restored Crucifixion, Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. AWA 2018 Sojourners in the front-row foreground: M. Schober, D. Malin, J. and S. Jacobs, V. Slichter.
Revealing Nelli’s Crucifixion
The three lunettes commissioned for Nelli’s convent in the 1570s together again after centuries. The side lunettes were restored nearly 10 years before central painting. On the right: Conservator R. Lari, curator C. Gnoni, museum custodian B. Pini
Presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem
Nelli’s precious miniature, found in Codex number 565 at the San Marco Museum, is inspired by the Gospel of Luke and depicts a scene from the childhood of Christ, namely his presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem
Unsigned choral ‘memories’
This newly restored choir book, dated 1558, contains one of the earliest known documents associated with Nelli as a painter. This work is not signed because manuscripts were considered community-building acts and not works of individual inspiration.
Choral books in storage, San Marco
AWA restored two choir book with Nelli’s gold-leaf-and-ink miniatures on parchment at Florence’s San Marco Museum. Presented during the artist’s show at the Uffizi Galleries in 2017: “Plautilla Nelli:Art and Devotion in Savonarola’s Footsteps”.
The restoration of San Marco choral books featuring Nelli’s miniatures was curated by curator Marilena Tamassia, head of the San Marco Museum (2017). Florentine restorer Simone Martini masterfully executed this multifaceted project.
Backing guarantees solidity
The book was placed inside a horizontal press in order to carry out a process known as ‘backing’ which strengthens the structure underlying the visible spine, which enables the book to open and guarantees its solidity.
Nelli’s ‘codex’, in need of repair
The term codex comes from the Latin word meaning ‘trunk of a tree’ or ‘block of wood’ (later, book). It is used today to describe handwritten manuscripts. The restoration process, by conservator S. Martini, was painstaking and immensely detailed.
Solutions for Nelli’s choral books
During restoration, the damaged threads holding the binding of San Marco’s choral books together were cut, and a warm-water solution was applied with an ultrasound device and vaporizer to detach the parchment from the poplar axes.
In the beginning
Museum curator F. Navarro examines Nelli’s Saint Catherine Receives the Stigmata, pre-restoration, in storage at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto whose deposits were renovated in the 1980s.
Seeing a hidden treasure trove
AWA Board and Advisory Council visit art in storage at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. Pictured here: D. Malin, D. Volpini Maestri, C. Clark, A. Vogler, D. Clark, accompanied by museum curator Cristina Gnoni, in 2018.
Former convent turned museum and art storehouse
AWA Board and Council visit the attic at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto, which is a storehouse devotional works from the sixteenth century, many of which became state property through Napoleonic reforms.
AWA views conservation needs of in-storage works
Museum curator Cristina Gnoni (in yellow) accompanies AWA Board and Advisory Council (2018) into the lofty attic at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. Note paintings hanging on the grate and their visible conservation needs.
Women of devotion
Curator Cristina Gnoni and Museum custodian Barbara Pini in the deposits at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. The former monastery is also a repository for sixteenth-century art, mostly of a devotional nature.
‘Art of museums’ looks to the past
The ‘Art of Museums’, German documentary series. Episode III, featuring Uffizi Galleries and AWA’s work in Florence. Artemisia’s Judith beheading Holofernes caused a ripple then and now.
An afternoon at the Bisonte
PBS troupe visits Il Bisonte, a center for the graphic arts, in When the World Answered: Florence Women Artists and the 1966 Flood. Producer K. Jacobs and co-authors J. Fortune and L. Falcone pictured with Florence-based artists and students.
An announcement for the Madonna
Pre-restoration. Plautilla Nelli’s Annunciation, a much-loved theme for sixteenth-century artists. Nelli, as a painter linked to the School of San Marco, would have been familiar with Beato Angelico’s rendition.
A wing and a prayer
The angel’s wings exhibit a palette of colors found elsewhere in The Annunciation and their intensity balances the other half of Nelli’s composition which features the reading Madonna.
Nelli’s dove in flight. Three serpentine rays emerge from the bird’s month, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and the Divine Word.
La revision of the frame was carried out after the restoration post frame restoration by F. Spagnoli as a precautionary measure
Upholding a tradition that is part of Florence’s uniqueness. The first batch of AWA’s ‘signature’ perfume was produced in 2017, in collaboration with Aquaflor, in the Santa Croce district.
Before the potion is poured
“Aquaflor recommended using a rare flower from India called osmanthus. Few people are familiar with it, but it is extremely valuable, just like the artists whose works AWA is trying to save,” explains Jane Fortune co-creator of Invisible.
In December 2019, women in the Oncology Ward and Day Hospital at Santa Maria Nuova received a bottle of the fragrance ‘Invisible’, created by our founder Jane Fortune (1948–2018). The spirit of Christmas is ‘Invisible’.
Into the universe
AWA presented “Invisible” in June 2017, during an olfactory performance, with creator Sileno Cheloni, mirroring an ancient ritual that revealed the origins of the word ‘perfume’… scents released into the Universe by burning.
Perfume for the press
The essence-burning ceremony held at a press conference for Lifestyle and Fashion journalists allowed members of the media to experience the perfume, Invisible, first hand.
Evoking the unseen
“Perfume is conceived in the realm of the invisible and it evokes all that is felt but not seen.’ said Nose Sileno Cheloni during the essence-burning ceremony at the launch of Invisible, the perfume commemorating art by women.
What scent is Invisible?
Sileno Cheloni prepares an ‘altar-of-sorts’ inside the waterless stone well at the center of Palazzo Serristori Corsini Antinori’s courtyard to burn ‘Invisible’. ”In ancient Rome, they would say ‘Pro fumo tribuere, ‘to offer by smoke’.
A bottled tribute
“Invisible”, the art perfume, is AWA’s tailor-made tribute honoring the women artists whose works have been ‘invisible’ for centuries. Proceeds from the sale of the perfume support the organization’s restoration of art by women.
The Essence Experiment
Hundreds of glass bottles lining each shelf of Acquaflor’s atelier. They represent a full world tour in seven square meters: essences from Tibet, Columbia, Oman, Ireland. AWA’s Board and Advisory Council experiment.
A Florence legacy in perfume
After Catherine de’ Medici’s marriage to Henry II of France, perfume began to be conceived as a personalized rather than medicinal product. AWA’s Board and Council at the Aquaflor workshop, post the production of Invisible, the perfume.
A perfect mix
AWA Board member Connie Clark experiments with her own version of Invisible, at Aquaflor’s atelier in Florence.
80 scents will do it
Any professional ‘nose’ will tell you, that a perfume is usually made from a blend of 30 to 80 different essences. Florence-based journalists try their hand at perfume-making as part of the press conference presenting, ‘Invisible’, AWA’s perfume.
A rosy finish
Presenting Invisible, the perfume, whose top notes recall lemon leaves and violet, followed by an accord of jasmine and osmanthus. It’s endnotes exude the fragrance of iris and rose.
Invisible close up
Wearing perfume as part of one’s personal toilette was perceived as sinful practice in the Middle Ages, because it was considered potentially seductive. Caterina de’ Medici would change all that come the Renaissance. A close-up shot of Invisible.
Artemisia ‘poster child’
The perfume’s Invisible’s ‘posterchild’ is a Florentine work by Artemisia Gentileschi, that is thought to be a preparatory drawing for David and Bathsheba, a painting at the Pitti Palace that AWA restored in 2009.
Conservator Beatrice Cuniberti with Colliva
Lea Colliva’s early self-portrait was restored as part of ‘Women Who Drew’, a workshop spearheaded by Beatrice Cuniberti, conservator at the helm of the Atelier degli Artigianelli. a workshop aimed at upholding Florence’s ancient trades.
Scholarship awardes, in the thick of it
AWA awarded one of two program grants for ‘Women Who Drew’ to Sharifa Lookman, a graduate student in art history at Syracuse University in Florence, pictured here in stripes, with fellow awardee Sofia Ferrari.
The ‘Women Who Drew’ paper restoration workshop was designed to raise awareness about Florence’s growing archives on female heritage through the conservation of prints, drawings and photography.
A first approach to female heritage on paper
The workshop ‘Women Who Drew’ at Atelier degli Artigianelli was brainchild of AWA and Il Palmerino and part of a larger initiative to create a Florentine archive for art by women on paper, including drawings, photography and graphic art.
Self-discipline and self-portraiture
The Women Who Drew workshop at Atelier degli Artigianelli was open to eight art-loving participants from all ‘walks of knowledge and expertise’. Training sessions were led by restorer and center director Beatrice Cuniberti.
First, a diagnosis
“A restorer is like a physician,” explains paper conservation workshop leader Beatrice Cuniberti. “Diagnosis is key and, therefore, so is observation. Before technical choices are made, you must attempt to understand the artist’s psychology.”
Supporting Nelli’s panel
Florentine wood conservator Roberto Buda, in his workshop in front of Nelli’s Crucifixion, for which he provided wooden supports.
Safely in the studio
The Crucifixion was veiled with Japanese rice paper and glue in order transport it safely to Roberto Buda’s Florentine workshop, because its pictorial layers were considerably fragile.
Holding it together
Wood conservator Roberto Buda works on the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion, to remove the cross beam on one side of the lunette.
A screw loose
The crossbeams on the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion were attached to the panels with screws, creating unsuitable clamping. Florentine wood conservator Roberto Buda corrects the problem.
Back to front
Making the acquaintance of a new arrival in the studio. Wood restorer Roberto Buda examines the front on Nelli’s Crucifixion before turning his attention to the back of the lunette.
Roberto Buda and Alberto Di Muccio during the handling of Nelli’s lunette in the wood conservation studio. During the restoration restoration process, team work is essential for diagnosis and logistics.
The side no one sees
Wood conservator Roberto Buda wears magnifying glasses to check the state of Nelli’s Crucifixion, composed of several panels. A fundamental, not often discussed phase of recovery.
Handling with care
Nelli’s Crucifixion on the verge of being laid face-down for panel analysis. Any maneuvers to move the painting are extremely risky and have to be executed with great care.
Detail of wood shavings, due to the planing of new crossbars placed on the back of Nelli’s seventeenth-century lunette, The Crucifixion. A mix of old and new wood to strengthen the structure.
Conservation and transport
Arternativa’s fine-art movers are preparing to pack it Nelli’s thrid lunette for transport to the laboratory. The collaboration between restorers and transporters is very important for conservation purposes.
Restoring the reading
Conservator R. Lari during the Crucifixion‘s cleaning phase, which included the removal of altered varnished that obscured the original colors, not allowing for a correct reading of the painting.
Pre-restoration, the painting was impacted by environmental dirt, yellowing varnish, altered restorations of the past, insect droppings, drips of color and highly visible sponge-applied brown patina. It has also undergone aggressive cleaning.
Number 16 for Renaissance mastery
The Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto occupies a large portion of an ancient convent founded by Vallombrosian monks that was named for San Salvi. Its titular fresco, a Renaissance masterpiece by Andrea del Sarto is in the refectory.
At the end of the hall
AWA aficionados arrive at the inauguration of Nelli’s Crucifixion. The long corridor, accessed from the entrance, hosts large altarpieces by Tuscan Mannerist painters who also worked for the nearby church of San Salvi.
Art in place
Although the restored Duclos painting was created in the 1700s, it is on display in the Accademia Gallery’s nineteenth-century Salon, created to host sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini’s Gypsoteca, a tangible sign of the gallery’s academic origins.
Move over Michelangelo
Irene Duclos’ painting ‘covers’ Michelangelo during the conference at the Accademia Gallery. The David was transferred from Piazza della Signoria to the tribune in 1873, after architect Emilio De Fabris designed it for this purpose.
It’s a match!
A tracing of Andrea del Sarto’s Madonna of the Sack fresco in the Cloister of the Dead at SS. Annunziata, is placed over Duclos’s copy from the Accademia. From this overlapping study, it is evident that the two images correspond perfectly.
A modern-day tracing of Andrea del Sarto’s Madonna of the Sack shows that Parenti Duclos traced her own cartoon from the original, perhaps by climbing up a scaffolding built some 200 years after del Sarto’s death for restoration purposes.
Detail of the Duclos painting. Missing flakes of color revealing a second hue underneath. The paint was probably crushed during lining and its fragments stuck unevenly on the pictorial surface.
The ripple effect
Detail in which you can see remains of wax left over from an old restoration and numerous areas of missing color, puckering and ripples impacting the pictorial surface.
Points of attention
The painting was examined by the CNR ICV (Institute for the Conservation and Valorization of Cultural Heritage). Research focused on the points shown here, for pigment and preparation studies.
Macro and micro study
The Institute for the Conservation and Valorization of Cultural Heritage at the National Research Council in Florence documented the Duclos restoration with micro and macro photographs of the areas chosen for analysis.
Microscopic cracks in Christ’s flesh
This micro-photograph taken during the National Research Council’s noninvasive diagnostic campaign, reveals cracking on a sample taken from the Christ child’s right cheek.
Under a microscope
This microphotograph shows a detail of the Duclos painting in which you can see a previous pictorial restoration, missing areas of paint, fragments of color and cracking.
Background lacuna on the lunette’s edge and architectural relief. Microscopic view of an old restoration, during which color fragments were improperly glued to the painted surface in an attempt to minimize color loss.
What’s in a color?
Microscopic research by Florence’s National Research Council focused on the painting’s chromatic background in order to hypothetically reconstruct the color palette used by the artist, in terms of chemical composition.
Layer upon layer
Micro-fragment sample dipped in epoxy and transversally divided using stratigraphy and subsequently polished to reveal its sections, in ultraviolet light. Several microscopes were used to allow for the morphological study of materials.
Preparation under scrutiny
One of two micro-fragments from the lunette’s brown background, which allowed researchers to delve in techniques Duclos used while preparing the canvas. Retrodiffused electron image (BS) of the sample’s polished section (Area ID_62 (1200x).
Microscopic analysis of the Madonna’s right cheek in Irene Parenti Duclos’ Copy of Madonna del Sacco. Analysis executed by S. Bracci and D. Magrini with the National Research Council.
The Duclos painting, detail under a digital microscope. Layers of color with evident losses of the overlying background paint
A good read
Researchers compared the Duclos copy to Del Sarto’s original. Duclos’ red drop capitals were copied perfectly, and even her black lettering proves very similar to the fresco’s, although the words seem to be without real meaning.
Naples yellow and ochre red
The CNA carried out color composition analysis on Saint Joseph’s robes, hypothesizing that the artist used a mixture of ochre-red and cinnabar. For his cloak, Duclos likely used Naples yellow or a similar shade made from lead and tin.
A cleaning comparison
Detail of the Madonna. Compare the two whites of her robe, before and after the cleaning process. The restored white is brighter and has acquired greater compactness.
Down in the mouth
Saint Joseph’s mouth can be considered less successful in terms of execution, yet that may be because it was particularly abraded and illegible in the original Del Sarto fresco, from which Duclos is thought to have traced her cartoon.
A slight shift
The superimposition of Duclos’ copy (red) and Del Sarto’s fresco (green) led to the discovery that the structure of the two works’ match significantly, despite a slight shift in in the copy’s architectural elements and other minor differences.
In the beginning
Pre restoration. The painting’s chromatic surface proved faded and yellowed, which mellowed its hues and distanced the painting from the original Del Sarto fresco’s technical characteristics, thwarting its truthfulness as a copy.
A first look
Restored colors, as seen in the studio. Conservator R. Lari writes, ‘Her palette ranges from light, luminous shades to darker more intense hues, carefully emulating the wealth of color characterizing the Del Sarto fresco.’
The side no one sees
Studying the back of the Duclos painting. Its non-original frame has three crossbars and wedges. Notice the red and green inventory numbers at the bottom.
A fundamental part of the process. Stucco work restores the continuity of the painting’s layers, correcting any gaps, in order to achieve pictorial reintegration.
45 years and multiple movements
Colliva’s small-scale show spans 45 years of art movements in a surprising compendium that goes from traditionalist turn-of-the-century landscapes and Liberty style portraiture to works influenced by the Informal movement and abstractionism.
Viewing an artist on the ‘Pathway’
Il Palmerino, a fifteenth-century villa turned cultural center for twentieth-century art and literature with a focus on female creativity, played host to the show “Lea Colliva. An Artist on the Pathway of the gods” in 2018.
The women artist connection
Sponsored by Fondazione CR Firenze and Advancing Women Artists, the exhibition ‘Women Artists: Florence 1900-1950’ spotlights numerous female personalities on Italy’s cultural stage, zeroing in on the creative and personal ties that bound them.
Spit and polish
Conservator S. Pucci revealed the technique used on Houses in Demolition. “We utilized artificial saliva which is a chemical reproduction of the enzymes in our own salvia. It allows us to remove surface dirt without damaging the varnish.”
“To correct detachment and color loss, we secured the color and carried out stucco-work. Oil-on-cardboard tends to lose its shape, so we created a climatic chamber to expose it to humidity,” said conservator C. Mannini (left).
‘Levasti’s urban views are populated by figures who wander amidst the cube-like geometry of her buildings,’ writes curator L. Mannini. ‘Her curious gaze explored teeming everyday activities and her world straddles reality and fairytale.’
Rooms exhibited and in storage
AWA restored Fillide Levasti’s Daily Life in 2018, for the exhibition ‘Women Artists. Florence 1900-1950’. It is now in storage at the Uffizi Galleries’. Shown here ‘hands on’ in C. Mannini’s conservation studio in the Oltrarno.
An ever-changing science
Conservator C. Mannini prefers restoring modern works like Levasti’s Daily Life. ‘New materials are far more reactive to solvents and, there is no time-trusted way to proceed. So, it’s exciting to be part of a pioneering field in this sense.’
A ‘story’ in the studio
Conservator C. Mannini in her studio in the Oltrarno with F. Levasti’s Daily Life. ‘Levasti is extremely technical and executes her paintings carefully,’ explains Mannini. ‘She’s keenly descriptive, as if she was telling a children’s story.’
A conservators palette
A surface cleaning was carried out with latex sponges similar to those used to remove make-up. Because no old varnish needed removal, conservator C. Mannini proceeds with pictorial touchups, to prepare the Uffizi’s painting for exhibition in 2018.
A psychological scene gets exhibition ready
A slice-of-life painting by Roman artist Vittoria Morelli who worked in Florence in the 1910s and 1920s. C. Mannini prepares the Uffizi painting for ‘Women Artists: 1900-1950’. Morelli’s work is a psychological portrait and a sign of her times.
Domestic details in the atelier
Conservators C. Mannini and S. Pucci at work transferring Vittoria Morelli’s Interior with Figures. Its still-life elements reflect early 20th-century tastes and follow the tradition of women artists including daily objects in their works.
Conservator Angela Gavazzi of the Gabinetto Vieusseux in Florence compares two self-portraits by Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi that belong to the Alessandro Bonsanti Contemporary Archives. Restored in 2018, for the show: Women Artists: 1900-1950′.
Sizing up self-portraits
Conservator A. Gavazzi examines Pieraccini Cecchi’s small self-portraits. The artist does not light up her face in either painting. The smaller one, from 1910, is far more damaged than the later self-portrait with vase and flowers, from 1946.
Studies before the show
Art historian Lucia Mannini with conservator Angela Gavazzi as they examine Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi’s Self-portrait from 1910, the year the artist got engaged to art critic Emilio Cecchi, whom she married on February 27, 1911.
Ripping through it
Paper conservator A. Gavazzi shows exhibition curator L. Mannini how Cecchi Levasti painted her self-portrait on cardboard. Dissatisfied, she would tear it in two before putting the pieces back together, gluing them onto a piece of cardboard.
‘Restoring’ Pieraccini Cecchi’s husband
Conservator R. Lari restores on site at the Vieusseux’s paper restoration lab. She is working on Pieraccini Cecchi’s Portrait of Emilio Cecchi, exhibited during ‘Women Artists: 1900-1950’ organized by AWA and Fondazione CR Firenze.
Small-scale work for cultural giant
Conservator R. Lari restores Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi’s 1919 portrait of her husband. Art and literary critic Emilio Cecchi is considered one of the greatest figures of Italian cultural journalism of the first half of the 20th century.
Conservators Angela Gavazzi and Rossella Lari worked together on five paintings from the Gabinetto G.P. Vieusseux, in preparation for the show: Women Artists: 1900-1950. Restoration is a craft and a science where conversation is key.
When the artist restores
Conservator Angela Gavazzi works on the back of Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi’s Self-portrait in Backlight. She had painted it on previously used cardboard that had been glued together, probably by the artist herself.
Paper restorer Angela Gavazzi works at the Gabinetto G.P. Vieusseux to remove glue fragments from the back of Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi’s Self-portrait in Backlight, painted in 1946 with recycled materials.
Jane Fortune’s Fiorino d’Oro ceremony was hosted at Palazzo Vecchio, as part of the Global Mayor’s Forum called, ‘Unity and Diversity’ where 60 mayors from all over the globe met to discuss the preservation of natural and artistic heritage.
In 2016, Florence’s mayor D. Nardella presented J. Fortune with the Golden Florin for her work with AWA: ‘We consider Mrs. Fortune, one of our citizens, one of us, a Florentine in every way, and I’d even go so far as to say, a great Florentine.’
The lemon seller
‘Lola Costa knew how to tune into various aspects of life, both in painting and in poetry. The gaze of her sitters tell us something about how they saw the world, and perhaps, how we see it as well,’ says psychologist Wanda Carcello.
‘Capturing simplicity on canvas was quest enough for Lola Costa,’ says granddaughter Federica Parretti, ‘The purple of artichoke flowers or perfumed lavender in Provence-style ceramic. That is what made her restless.’ Oil on canvas, 1973
Artichoke flowers and eggs
‘Costa’s rapid brush strokes recall De Pisis, but I also see an English aura in her painting that bring to mind the early works of Sutherland. An elegant painter with an expert eye with nature,’ said critic Mario Cancelli. 1974, oil on cardboard
Wisteria in bloom at Il Palmerino
Entrance to Il Palmerino, artists residence and cultural association, decade-long partner with AWA for its ‘Women Artists of the Twentieth Century’ exhibitions. The last house in Florence, along the road known as the Pathway of the Gods.
British artist Lola Costa’s studio at Il Palmerino where the artist lived for more than half a century, starting in 1935. Costa’s works was primarily comprised of portraiture, landscapes and still life scenes.
Expat women painters in Tuscany
Portrait of Lola Costa by her husband Federigo Angeli, during ‘Chaplin and Costa: Rediscovering Expat Women Artists in Tuscany’, an exhibition at Il Palmerino in 2014. Two of Elisabeth Chaplin’s nudes on show in the background.
‘Lola Costa along the Pathway of the Gods’
Organized by the Cultural Association Il Palmerino with the Municipality of Monzuno and AWA, this exhibition featured 25 works by adoptive Florentine artist Lola Costa (1903 –2006), who had moved to Tuscany from her native England in the early 1920s.
Michael Palin comes to town
AWA cultural representative L. Jmaeff with comedian and TV presenter Michael Palin, prior his interview with AWA founder J. Fortune, also cultural editor for The Florentine in 2015.
M. Palin interviewed founder J. Fortune, when featuring AWA’s restoration of Gentileschi’s 1653 David and Bathsheba for his program ‘The Quest for Artemisia’. She returned the ‘favor’ by interviewing Michael for The Florentine.
Waiting for Palin
L. Jmaeff, L. Falcone and J. Fortune at the Fortune-Hesse home in Florence, awaiting the arrival of TV presenter and comedian Michael Palin, in town for his BBC special ‘The Quest for Artemisia’.
A Pitti interview
‘The Quest for Artemisia’ presenter Michael Palin and AWA founder Jane Fortune, on a balcony at the Pitti Palace, post their interview about AWA’s 2009 restoration of David and Bathsheba, a process featured in the BBC documentary.
For love of Florence
AWA Board members and major donors Donna Malin and Connie and Doug Clark, during 2018 Florence Sojourn at San Miniato al Monte.
Ex-pat for Florence
An ‘ex-pat’ view of Florence. AWA Board member Donna Malin, at San Miniato al Monte during AWA’s 2018 Sojourn. A supporter of several AWA projects, she ‘adopted’ the Christ figure in Nelli’s monumental Last Supper.
Board officer Stuart Jacobs with AWA Advisory Council member Joan Jacobs at San Miniato al Monte during AWA’s 2018 Sojourn.
An AWA commitment
AWA Vice president Nancy Hunt, with husband Bill, at San Miniato al Monte, during AWA’s Sojourn 2018. They are the ‘proud parents’ of ‘Saint Bartholomew’ in Nelli’s Last Supper at the Santa Maria Novella Museum.
Two Nelli Award winners awaiting the ceremony
The Accademia Gallery’s then-director Franca Falletti, with the Bargello’s former director Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi, awardee at the 2012 Nelli Awards, at Santa Maria del Carmine.
Celebrating the Nelli Awards
AWA Advisory Council member Dorothee Volpini Maestri with former US Consul General Sarah Morrison and AWA Advocate Valentina Grossi as the 2012 Nelli Awards in Santa Maria del Carmine.
A friendship for culture
AWA founder Jane Fortune welcomes Il Palmerino President Federica Parretti to the 2012 Nelli Awards at Santa Maria del Carmine, honoring modern-day women making outstanding contributions to the Florence art and culture scene.
A shared smile at ‘The Nellis’
Nelli Awards, 2012. Former US Consul General for Florence Sarah Morrison with Sheila Barker, Director of the Jane Fortune Program for Women Artists at the Medici Archive Project in Florence.
The final interview
AWA founder Jane Fortune in 2018, during her final interview producer Kim Jacobs,during filming for the documentary spotlighting the restoration of Nelli’s Last Supper, a WFYI Media and Bunker Film co-production.
D. Magrini and microinvasive research
Donata Magrini, a researcher at the ICVBC-CNR (National Research Council’s Institute for Conservation and Promotion of Cultural Heritage), at the Accademia’s Duclos conference in 2011, where she spoke on microinvasive analysis techniques.
Nelli, media globe trotter
Equal Opportunity councilor Sara Funaro speaks at lauch event. In the 40 days, of TheFirstLast crowdfunding campaign, Nelli went from being a virtually ‘invisible artist’ to being featured in 86 international newspapers, websites and magazines.
Starting in Florence
TheFirstLast crowdfunding campaign was launched by the Advancing Women Artists Foundation on March 1, 2017 and the campaign ended at midnight on Easter Sunday. L. Falcone speaks at Florence launch.
The consolidation procedure involved moderate heat applied with an iron while the painting was inside a vacuum envelope, which optimized penetration of the adhesive and re-established cohesion between the support and the paint layers.
Ironing out the wrinkles?
The painting was lightly ironed from the front to allow the consolidant resin to penetrate through the layers and reattach the flaking paint to the support.Conservator Elizabeth Wicks with Violante Siries Cerroti’s masterful copy.
Moderate heat after Mylar
After the consolidant had dried, the painting was turned over and a Mylar “envelope” was created around it in order to place the work under light vacuum pressure. Next, conservators N. Fontani and L. Wicks applied moderate heat, via ‘ironing’.
Angel under raking light
Diagnostic study carried out during conservation work. Viewing the painting under raking light helps document its condition and determine appropriate cleaning and consolidation techniques.
Masses in her name
Inside the niche, pre restoration. In Siries’s 1768 will, she bequeathed a monetary gift to the convent of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, asking that the nuns say masses in her name, in front of her painting in the sacristy, pictured here.
Mold attack in check
The high level of humidity caused by Florence’s 1966 flood engendered a dramatic mold attack over the entire reverse of the canvas. Conservator L. Wicks treats mold growth which weakened the painting’s support structure.
Rot and damage
The painting’s stretcher and canvas showed visible signs of deterioration. The stretcher bars had severely warped and weakened, and a woodworm infestation had caused further weakening, with significant wood rot.
Passing through the piazza
Fine-art movers Arternativa transfer Violante Siries largescale painting from the conservation studio, through nearby Piazza Santa Croce, in its way to the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi in Borgo Pinti for post-restoration exhibition.
Examining the restored niche
The conservation team gathers in the sacristy of the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi. The crumbling plaster was removed from the niche and replaced with new plaster, providing a secure and dry environment for the painting.
Conservators, curators and movers examine the niche, with painting in foreground Temperature and relative humidity in the sacristy continue to be carefully monitored to ensure that the newly restored painting remains in excellent condition.
Back at last
On May 25, 1767 on the anniversary of Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi’s death, Siries’s altarpiece was unveiled in the newly built sacristy of the church. On unveiling night, over 250 years later, the restored work meets Florence’s art-loving public.
R. Lari with Nelli’s Annuciation, restored 2017. Final pictorial restoration is a complex operation, in which the conservator increases the painting’s chromatic readability, without going over its original color, except for light veiling.
Light from the window
Conservator Rossella Lari in her Oltrarno studio, restoring Nelli’s Annunciation. Also note, the artist’s Crucifixion in the background. Restorers often work in natural light, despite sometimes using artificial lamps.
‘Having the possibility to work on several paintings attributed to the artist is important when it comes to verifying her technique and color scheme,’ says R. Lari, in the studio with Nelli’s Annunciation and Crucifixion.
Conservator R. Lari with Nelli’s Annunciation. Lari’s hand-made varnish-based colors are comprised of pigment, varnish and Canadian balsam, a turpentine made from the resin of the North American balsam fir tree.
Conservator Rossella Lari with Nelli’s Annunciation, during pictorial restoration. The paintbrushes used in this phase are of utmost importance. They have to stay pointy and are usually made from marten hair, from a weasel-like mammal.
Eyes on the palette
A conservator’s palette is not often hand-held, but set on a nearby table. Rossella Lari executes pictorial restoration on Plautilla Nelli’s Annunciation, using hand-made varnish.
Four eyes for Nelli
In the studio with Nelli’s Annunciation. Conservator R. Lari often uses a wearable magnifying glass while doing pictorial restoration. After close-up scrutiny, she steps back and views the work as a whole.
While carrying out pictorial restoration on Nelli’s Annunciation, conservator R. Lari uses a wooden arm support to avoid resting her hand on the painting’s surface. The end of this reed is wrapped in a swab-like cushion to prevent impact.
Reeds made to measure
Arm rests are made by the conservators themselves in several lengths. Their purpose is to keep one’s arm and hand from getting tired, whilst protecting the painting from unnecessary touching. R. Lari with Nelli’s Annunciation.
A giggle among guests
F. Richards from Timeless Travels, AWA Board member A. Vogler and H. McGivern, from The Art Newspaper at Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s London retirement party, where she was honored with sponsorship of Nelli’s Saint Judas Thaddeus.
Rusty nails revived
Chaplin’s The Three Sisters from Pitti’s Modern Art Gallery. Restoration detail, 2014. Rusty nails were removed mechanically and treated with anti-rust solution.
According to conservator Rossella Lari, artist Elisabeth Chaplin pulled the canvas onto the stretcher once it was already finished. This explains color flaking and falling along the painting’s perimeter.
Keeping it safe
To protect Chaplin’s newly restored but fragile painting, The Three Sisters was placed under an anti-glare safety glass and protected with distancing laths. Restoration for Pitti’s Modern Art Gallery, 2014.
The cause and the cultprit
Diagnostic analysis. The back of Elisabeth Chaplin’s The Three Sisters. Notice visible water stains, which were probably the cause of the painting’s deformation and numerous areas of missing color.
An original frame
Extraction of nails from The Three Sisters‘ original frame from Chaplin’s era in the early twentieth century. Conservator R. Lari does the handiwork.
Shadows and a swab
A cotton swab for the removal of environmental dirt. E. Chaplin (in blue) is the oldest sister in her family self portrait, The Three Sisters. A night scene where artificial light shines from the bottom of the canvas, casting a unique shadow.
R. Lari cleans Chaplin’s painting with a swab. Light from the bottom shines on Elisabeth’s long neck, leaving an intense shadow on the high part of her face and creating a mysterious atmosphere. Pitti Modern Art Gallery, restored 2014.
Layering, an artist’s choice
Discovering technique during cleaning. Conservator R. Lari cleans Chaplin’s dark background. The artist applied a single layer of paint to complete it, whereas the figures’ robes in The Three Sisters have several layors of paint.
Diagnostic analyis on Elisabeth Chaplin’s The Three Sisters, from Pitti’s Modern Art Gallery in Florence. Excessive stretching of the canvas caused numerous cracks in the color. Restored in 2014.
Wrinkles and restoration
Wrinkles impacting the pictorial surface, under raking light. The damage was probably caused by exposure to humidity. Chaplin’s The Three Sisters is one of over of her 600 works in the Pitti’s Modern Art Gallery collection.
Frame cleaning test
Cleaning tests on the frame for Nelli’s The Crucifixion. The frame had been completely repainted and thanks to the restoration, R. Lari was able to recover its original color.
Nelli’s Crucifixion from the back
Diagnostics. Detail of the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion, with a slit in the wood, several nails and two panels next to each other that are glued together.
A job well done
AWA Board members D. Malin, C. Clark, D. Clark and A. Vogler on inauguration night, after Nelli’s Crucifixion was unveiled at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto, in October 2018.
The threshold. Inauguration night for Nelli’s Crucifixion
The museum on inauguration night. San Salvi hosts works from the early 1500s. Plautilla Nelli’s lunettes are surrounded by the likes of Pontormo, Del Sarto, Franciabigio, Raffaellino del Garbo and Giuliano Bugiardini.
A conference with the ‘Prisoners’
‘Irene Parenti Duclos: A Work Restored, an Artist Revealed’, conference at the Accademia Gallery in 2011. Participants surrounded by Michelangelo’s ‘Prisoners’, four unfinished sculptures, started for the tomb of Pope Julius II della Rovere.
Female leadership, innovation at the Accademia
Dr. F. Falletti welcomes guests to the conference. ‘Irene Parenti Duclos: A Work Restored, an Artist Revealed’ (October, 2011). Director of the Accademia Gallery for over 30 years, she fostered important innovations within the museum.
Cristina Acidini at Accademia conference for Duclos
Portrait of Cristina Acidini, superintendent from 2006 to 2014 of the Special Superintendence for Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage and for Florence’s Museum Circuit. Facilitator at the Duclos conference 2011.
Susanna Bracci, senior researcher at CNR
Susanna Bracci is senior researcher at the CNR’s Institute for the Conservation and Valorization of Cultural Heritage in Florence. Pictured here at the Irene Parent Duclos conference, she has performed diagnostic research on AWA’s projects for years.
Fields along the Pathway
Artists Lea Colliva and Lola Costa were neighbors on the two extremes of the Pathway of the Gods, an ancient pilgrim’s route linking Bologna and Florence. Event organizers at Il Palmerino braved the 6-day hike with art lovers.
Towards Colliva’s home
An ancient Etruscan pilgrim’s trail curves through the Apennines leading from Florence to Bologna. The road links Il Palmerino, once home to English artist Lola Costa and British writer Vernon Lee, and Monzuno’s L’Ospitale, Colliva’s creative oasis.
‘Lea Colliva: An Artist on the Pathway of the Gods’ exhibition at Il Palmerino (2018). Colliva was an explosive colorist producing what the Fascists called ‘degenerative’ art at a time when rebel Italians courted the Expressionist movement.
Colliva at Il Palmerino
Colliva scholar B. Buscaroli writes: ‘Lea Colliva thunders amidst figures, flowers and landscapes, meandering between Rembrandt and Soutine, in her restless expressionist quest.’ Guests at the 2018 Il Palmerino exhibition explore her paintings.
Nino Bertocchi, art critic and Lea Colliva’s mentor wrote of the artist: “Lea drew like no master at the modernist Accademia had ever drawn before or will ever draw again.” Colliva produced Savena Riverbed in 1943.
Sighting in storage
AWA’s Board and Advisory council visits the deposits at the Andrea del Sarto Last Supper museum which hosts works primarily from the sixteenth century. Many of the works became state property with Napoleon’s closure of convents in the early 1800s.
Treasures in storage
Art in storage at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto. Museum storage spaces are fundamental to art conservation. Proper display, easy access, appropriate temperature conditions are all factors to consider.
In Luigi Mecocci’s workshop in the Oltrarno artisans’ district. Painting the frame that would host one of Plautilla Nelli’s lunettes at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto.
Leaves of gold
L. Mecocci’s studio. A frame for one of Plautilla Nelli’s lunettes, during gilding. Craftswoman with cushion where she spreads gold leaf before cutting it with a knife.
‘See you in print’
AWA was invited to co-produce Santa Croce in Pink in October 2012, right after the restoration of Félicie de Fauveau’s burial moment to L. De Favreau. One year later, it was in print. Pictured here at the launch, with The Florentine.
In the shade of the ‘Tree of Life’
It was a celebratory day for women in the arts, as AWA presented Santa Croce in Pink: Untold Stories of Women and their Monuments in the complex’s stunning Sala del Cenacolo, in the shadow of Taddeo Gaddi’s Tree of Life.
‘Pink’ past and future
Authors’ panel, Sala del Cenacolo. Giuseppe de Micheli, Santa Croce’s then Secretary General discussed the Santa Croce in Pink project, a book and an outreach program, spotlighting seven centuries of female achievement at the complex.
A tribute to historic women at Santa Croce
Sala del Cenacolo. AWA director L. Falcone presents Santa Croce in Pink, which tributes historic women with monuments at Santa Croce, Pantheon of Italian Greats.
Book launch, Sala del Cenacolo. Santa Croce in Pink: Untold Stories of Women and their Monuments, G. Bagioli and D. Grossini, two of its authors.
Santa Croce in Pink, the tour
Santa Croce has many monuments commemorating female protagonists. The journey begins in thirteenth-century Florence and continues with the 19th-century Grand Tour. P. Vojnovic leads ‘Santa Croce in Pink’ tour. Bust of Ida Botti Scifoni by P. Freccia
The first Santa Croce in Pink Tour in the Gallery of Funeral Monuments, post the book’s launch (2013). It features the women poets, singers, politicians, mystics and artists that have helped make Florence great.
Burial monument restored. Felicie de Fauveau was one of the first female professional sculptors. After a single discussion with a French craftsman who made religious statues, she stated ‘I too am a sculptor’.
Flood damage overcome
Daily exposure to outdoor elements had caused irregular discoloration on parts of the monument’s surface. During AWA’s maintenance project, grime was removed and a wax polish was used to reduce the marble’s lack of moisture. Restored, 2012.
Tonini tells all
‘The Sculptural Workshop of a French Artist in Nineteenth-century Florence”, was a two-day conference organized by AWA in 2013 in the Cloister of Santa Maria del Carmine. Conservator Gabriella Tonini presents the De Fauveau restoration.
Surviving hell and high water
The 2013 De Fauveau conference. A Nazi grenade inside the cloister of S. Maria del Carmine disfigured the artist’s tribute to Anne De La Pierre, later damaged during the 1966 Flood. J. Fortune’s The Florentine article records the facts.
Awaiting laser techniques
A stratified accumulation of dust and debris had destroyed sculptural details, blackening the entire structure. Due to the nature and delicacy of the original surface, the cleaning process was carried out with laser and chemical techniques.
Honoring one’s mother
Pre-restoration. Felicie de Fauveau’s marble tribute to her mother, Anne de la Pierre, completed in 1859. Both women established the artist’s studio in Via degli Serragli, near the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine where the monument stands today.
Monument to Anne de la Pierre at Carmine
De Fauveau’s extended family had withdrawn their economic support considering a woman’s desire for for-pay commissions an act of ‘insolent pride’. De Fauveau had refused to give up her art, saying, ‘Know that an artist, such as I am is, a gentleman.’
De Fauveau’s mother, restored
Post-restoration. The marble portrait’s missing chin was re-sculpted, refinished and leveled to fit the rest of the face. A wax polish was subsequently applied to protect the work and enhance the surface’s transparency and subtle chromatic variety.
High realism, restored
De Fauveau restored. During conservation treatment, G. Tonini and L. Pirelli, paid special attention to Anne de la Pierre’s high-relief portrait; De Fauveau had depicted her aged mother with unflinching realism using virtuoso carving techniques.
Reconstruction for grenade-damaged sculpture
The right side of De la Pierre’s chin, destroyed during the Second World War, was modeled and reconstructed directly on the sculpture, by gauging the dimensions of the missing piece with the help of a vintage photograph showing the undamaged work.
A conservators work is never done
After re-creating the missing part of Anne de la Pierre’s face, conservator G. Tonini continues her work: ‘By filling losses in the architectural elements, draperies, and other damaged features, we recovered the monument’s visual integrity.’
Darkened by time
Pre-restorationFerroni’s Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims is the first of two ovals darkened by centuries of dirt and marred by flaking paint, tears and canvas holes. Conservation project for the Ancient Hospital of San Giovanni di Dio.
A ‘before’ shot from afar
In 2019, Violante Ferroni’s oval was removed from the atrium of the Ancient Hospital of San Giovanni di Dio and transferred to the conservation studio, with conservators E. Wicks and M.Vincenti.
‘Arternativa’ at work
Art movers for Arternativa perform a balancing act at San Giovanni di Dio in Borgo Ognissanti, detaching Ferroni’s first 11-foot oval from its niche.
The big shift
Would the art movers be able to slide Violante’s oval out from under the metal scaffolding built during far-reaching renovations of Amerigo Vespucci’s birthplace? That was the looming question on moving day, but they managed beautifully.
Conservators apply gentle heat and pressure to consolidate and re-adhere paint layers and smooth canvas distortions. It’s all hands of deck during this fundamental process designed guarantee the oval’s overall solidity.
The 8 by 11 ft. oval is placed on a specially cushioned ‘bed’. Gentle heat and pressure are used to diffuse the consolidant resin applied on the reverse through the canvas to smooth distortions and re-adhere the paint layers.
After stabilizing flaking paint, conservators slowly clean off a layer of surface dirt. Then, step by step, three layers of discoloured varnishes from previous restorations are carefully removed. Conservator E. Wicks, satisfied with results.
The vibrancy of old
As conservator E. Wicks uses solvent gels to remove centuries of stubborn dirt, old varnish and repaints, Ferroni’s colors recover their original vibrancy.
A group effort in the studio
Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims is the first of two works that AWA restoredi, in collaboration with the Robert Lehman Foundation, The Rauch Foundation and ‘The Mud Angels meet the Art Angels’, with FSU in Florence.
A favorite phase
If you consider ‘cleaning’ one of life’s mundane tasks, consider that it is one of conservation’s most rewarding phases. Note the baby’s white robes and his mother’s golden gown emerge from under centuries of grime.
Conservator R. Lari fills out condition report documentation, during ‘the final check’ before hanging The Coral Necklace by Adriana Pincherle during the exhibition ‘Women Artists: Florence (1900-1950).
Final thoughts during set up
Architect L. Cuppellini and exhibition curator L. Mannini comparing works by Mori and Chaplin, while setting up ‘Women Artists: Florence (1900-1950). Paintings by Fillide Levasti already on the wall.
Details soon under the spotlight
Pre-exhibition, ‘Women Artists: Florence (1900-1950)’. Conservator R. Lari does a bit of touching up in watercolor to improve frame condition for a painting by Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi, Portrait of Suso, which depicts the artist’s daughter.
Chiari’s Farm House
The exhibition ‘Lola Costa: An Artist of the Pathway of the Gods’ was inaugurated in September 2019, at the M. Marri Library in Monzuno. A continuing dialog along the ancient Roman footpath in the Apennines leading from Florence to Bologna.
Hesse and Palin
AWA co-founder Robert Hesse with comedian and TV presenter Michael Palin, in Florence for his 2015 BBC documentary, ‘The Quest for Artemisia’.
Community leaders with AWA
AWA board member D. Malin, with Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. ‘By salvaging art by women, I think we all experience a real feeling of community,’ Malin says about she and her colleagues’ work with the organization.
Ribbon cutting for Pincherle’s ‘Colors’
Exhibition curators C. Toti and L. Mannini (left) with AWA director L. Falcone and Regional Council President E. Giani for the ribbon-cutting ‘Colors of an Artist’ at Palazzo Panciatichi (2016).
AWA gathers at the opening of ‘Adriana Pincherle, Colors of an Artist’ with project co-creator Il Palmerino and additional partners: Regional Council of Tuscany, Michelucci Foundation, Archivio Contemporaneo A. Bonsanti and Gabinetto Vieusseux.
Il Palmerino’s 2016 exhibition ‘Art and Memory’ juxtaposes A. Pincherle and E. Pacini, two artists whose creative languages are different to the point of being divergent. Atendees watch AWA’s video ‘Rediscovering Two Italian Artists of 1900s’.
An exhibition read
‘Adriana Pincherle: Colors of an Artist’ at Palazzo Panciatichi marked the twentieth anniversary of Pincherle’s death. The exhibition was part of the ‘Women Artists of the 1900s’ calendar, a biennial project for AWA and Il Palmerino.
Top authors, Morante and Moravia
AWA restored a series of colorful portraits that represent Italy’s top authors from the 1920s to the 1960s. (Morante and Moravia pictured). In 1977, Pincherle donated them to the Gabinetto Vieusseux’s Contemporary Archive, where they are exhibited.
Brushing it off
The first phase of restoration included removing as much dirt and dust as possible using a ‘dry method’ followed by micro-aspiration on both sides of the paintings, with the help of soft brushes used repeatedly.
One of Pincherle’s self-portraits during stucco work on small areas of missing color. Conservator R. Lari prepares the work for ‘Adriana Pincherle: Colors of an Artist’, a commemorative show at Palazzo Panciatichi, headquarters of the Tuscan Region.
“The difficulty of cleaning Pincherle’s paintings can be traced back to her application of color, characterized by relief-like sharpened peaks. They are extremely fragile and, in many cases, already cracked,” says conservator R. Lari.
Warm stucco is right
Conservator R. Lari at work with Adriana Pincerle’s Self Portrait from the 1950s, to make the painting ready for her ‘Colors of an Artist’ show at Palazzo Panciatichi The gesso has to be kept warm during stucco work, using a bain-marie method.
Contrasts in color
The ‘Art and Memory’ exhibition at Il Palmerino (Spring 2016), was part of the ‘Women Artists of the Twentieth Century’ series. Pacini’s placid pastels are a contrast to Pincherle’s vigorous coloristic component and openness towards European trends.
Smale-scale art with big risks
‘When it comes to treating Adriana Pincherle’s twentieth-century works the risk lies in cleaning the smooth areas of color more than other areas, creating even more contrast with the grooves darkened by dirt,’ says Rossella Lari about the process.
Removing the gray layer that blurred the painting’s colors, making them flat. A major exponent of Magic Realism, Edita Broglio (1886–1977) gifted Oranges to Florence in 1967, in response to the tragic 1966 flood.
Deeper and brighter
The cleaning phase. As layers of dirt are removed, the face in Edita Broglio’s Oranges acquire depth and brightness. Note the difference around the nose and left cheek. Restored in 2014, Twentieth-century Museum in Piazza S. Maria Novella.
Rosella Lari at work with Edita Broglio’s frame. She securely positions Oranges inside its frame with strips of rubberized paper. Its torn strips were first detached and the back was cleaned, removing glue residues.
While cleaning Titina Maselli’s Greta Garbo, conservator R. Lari removed fragments of cardboard that stuck to oil drops present on the painting.
Getting ready for the show
Conservator Rossella Lari removes insect dropping on Titina Maselli’s Greta Garbo, using a scapel and humid cotton swabs. The restored painting was exhibited at the ‘Beyond Borders’ exhibition in 2016.
L. Lari face to face with Greta
The exhibition ‘Beyond Borders’ at the Twentieth-century Museum was the final phase of AWA’s Flood Lady project, with the exhibition of works by Titina Masella (Greta Garbo) and that of artists like Palaez, Lazzari, Sodenvilla and Broglio.
True black and white
The cleaning phase. Conservator R. Lari works to remove the yellowing varnish falsifying the work’s original black and white. Post restoration, Maselli Garbo was exhibited at Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum to commemorate the 1966 flood.
Amalia Ciardi Dupre’s small-scale Maternity in concrete is one of many versions of the same theme. The 2014 project, at Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum, included cleaning and removal of identification tags glued to its base.
An estimate for Nelli’s workshop
Nelli was a follower of bonfire-of-the-vanities friar Savonarola, who supported the production of art by religious women ‘as a way to avoid sloth’. Conservator R. Lari estimates the up to eight women may have worked on The Last Supper.
Conservator R. Lari, with stucco work. The Last Supper defies social convention since Nelli authored 13 life-size male figures, confronting a theme usually reserved for male artists at the height of their career.
A square to remember
Conservator R. Lari with Last Supper. The tablecloth square shows the before-and-after difference, post cleaning once yellowed varnish and over-painting had been removed to reveal the original painterly layer.
Saint Thomas lifts a finger
Saint Thomas raises his finger in protest. Nelli’s Christ announces his betrayal as she emulates Leonardo Da Vinci’s idea of portraying the Apostles with dynamic emotion, a then-new concept for Last Supper paintings in Florence.
Paint and personality
“One will never get closer to an artist than in the restoration studio,” says conservator Rossella Lari. “We restored Nelli’s masterwork and rediscovered her story and personality. She had powerful brushstrokes and loaded her brushes with paint.”
One step up
Nelli’s 21-foot canvas one of the largest works by an early woman artist in the world—and one of the most challenging compositionally. Rossella Lari on the scaffolding working with the faces of Jesus Christ and Saint John.
Ancient and modern hands
Evidence conclusively suggests that Nelli’s Last Supper is a ‘choral piece’, created in true ‘workshop style’, as different painterly hands and varying levels of expertise are evident across the canvas. R. Lari tackles the canvas.
Making sure its a match
Conservator R. Lari working on Nelli’s Judas. A phase of stuccoing process, when the painting’s surface is reconstructed under raking light to make sure it matches surrounding areas.
Pre-restoration. Upon arrival at R. Lari’s atelier in 2015, Nelli’s Last Supper is examined to confirm that no trauma has occurred during transport from its home in the Santa Maria Novella Complex. It would stay in the studio for 4 years.
Florence’s first citizen for TheFirstLast
Phase one of Nelli’s crowdfunding campaign called ‘TheFirstLast’, was launched in March 2017. The city’s First Citizen, Mayor Dario Nardella, made the project’s first gift in Palazzo Vecchio, followed by donors from 19 countries.
19 countries come out for Nelli
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella was TheFirstLast’s first donor followed by supporters from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, United Kingdom, USA and United Arab Emirates.
Florence Mayor pledges the first donation in support of Nelli’s Last Supper restoration. His dedication in the Donors Book reads: ‘March 8, 2017, Thank you and good luck to the friends of AWA! Dario Nardella.’
Trinket for Nelli’s crowdfunding
AWA’s pendant is designed and handmade by Nerdi Orafi, a goldsmith workshop near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. It represents a tiny painter’s palette with a curved paintbrush, a tribute to historic women artists who ‘bent the rules’.
Hammered pendant in support of Nelli
Paintbrush and palette pendant designed as a ‘perk’ for donors participating in TheFirstLast crowdfunding for Nelli’s Last Supper. Created in the Nerdi workshop, specialized in Florentine goldsmithery.
Inspiring the next generation
In March 2018, following a world-wide event called ‘AWA around the world’, 17-year-old Jasmine Salvato, a student at De La Salle Catholic College in Australia, produced a portrait honoring artist P. Nelli and AWA founder J. Fortune.
Honoring a spiritual masterwork
Recognizing The Last Supper as a devotional masterwork. Mass prior unveiling. Built in the mid-1300s, the mosaic-filled Spanish Chapel was enlivened during Nelli’s era when Duchess Elenora de Toledo chose it as her spiritual home.
For major patrons of Nelli’s Last Supper, mass in the Spanish Chapel provided a glittering spiritual prelude, leading up to the more ‘worldly’ inaugural celebration at the Santa Maria Novella on October 16, 2019.
Unveiling with spirtual undertones
The Last Supper unveiling had both cultural and spiritual meaning, just as Nelli’s painting did. Some 500 hundred years later, modern-day patrons attend mass at the Spanish Chapel prior seeing it displayed at Santa Maria Novella.
Adopters say ‘At last!’
Phase two of the worldwide public appeal, ‘The Adopt an Apostle Program’, matched 12 donor couples with their respective ‘Saint’. Adopters on inauguration night (October 16, 2019) at the Santa Maria Novella complex, with a copy of ‘their’ painting.
Major donors celebrate close-up
October 16, 2019. AWA supporters ‘unroll’ an unforgettable souvenir marking the end of the 4-year-long conservation project. The replica of Nelli’s Last Supper was given to Santa Maria Novella’s Dominicans who will dearly miss the original.
Visible, fresh off the press
The catalog, Visible: Plautilla Nelli and her Last Supper Restored, is a dual-language publication (English and Italian), published by The Florentine press. On inauguration night, withThe Florentine‘s G. Badiani and intern M. Stevens.
News for the old refectory
Ancient refectory, Santa Maria Novella Museum. Nelli’s newly restored Last Supper arrived ‘home sweet home’ on October 15, 2019 and was deftly hoisted up scaffolding built earlier that morning.
Visible at last
After four years in the conservation studio, the Last Supper by Plautilla Nelli (1524-1588) returns to the complex of Santa Maria Novella—for permanent public exhibition at the museum in the Old Refectory. Visible at last.
A Pitti partnership
Simonella Condemi curated ‘Female Perspectives’, held at the Pitti Palace’s Gallery of Modern Art, in the Sala del Fiorino from March 7 to May 26, 2019. AWA underwrote the exhibition catalog in English, in partnership with the Uffizi Galleries.
Female perspectives at the Pitti
‘Female Perspectives’ at the Pitti. In 2019, the Uffizi Galleries and AWA celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8) with an exhibition devoted to the professional commitment and talent of women from the late 19th and to the early 20th centuries.
A 2019 opening at the Pitti
‘Female Perspectives’ opening, Pitti’s Sala Bianca. ‘International female artists are well represented, because ex-pat women enjoyed a brand of freedom in Italy that was unknown in their home countries,’ says AWA director L. Falcone, at the podium.
Introducing ‘Female Perspectives’
Women’s Day exhibtion 2019. Curator Simonella Condemi welcomes guests to the Pitti’s Sala Bianca. ‘We are striving to pay tribute to women’s tireless endeavors, displaying their talent in art, photography, writing, teaching and politics.’
Ferroni’s painting begins transformation
Cleaning Violante Ferroni’s Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims. Born in 1720, Ferroni was a student of Violante Siries and she worked in the workshop of G. Domenico Ferretti, who dominated the Florentine art scene for much of the 1700s.
Violante Ferroni was accepted as a member of the Accademia del Disegno in 1736. She exhibited at the Accademia di San Luca and the Uffizi Gallery. Conservator M. Vincenti cleans the large-scale Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims.
Conservator E. Wicks performs cleaning tests on Violante Ferroni’s first oval, commissioned in the mid 1700s when the Ancient Hospital of San Giovanni di Dio’s atrium was refurbished (it also doubled as a chapel for patients).
E. Wicks and the ‘Art of Healing’
Conservator E. Wicks with Ferroni’s Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims. Part of a project known as ‘The Art of Healing’, this restoration spotlights an important Florentine ideal: art and beauty as a fundamental instrument of well-being.
Female figures re-emerge
Convervator M. Vincenti at work. Violante Ferroni’s Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims is an indoor, evening scene. The female figures visible at the oval’s edges reemerge from ‘the shadows’, during the restoration process.
Conservator E. Wicks with Violante Ferroni’s Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims. Ferroni (b.1720) painted large works featuring traditionally ‘masculine’ subjects: full-length figures and historic scenes with spiritual undertones.
Ateiier from above
Saint John of God Heals Plague Victims in the atelier post-cleaning. The colors have re-acquired their original hues. Conservators Wicks and Vincenti in their inch-by-inch quest to salvage Violante Ferroni’s eighteenth-century work.
How she made the paints
Diagnostic analysis for the Duclos restoration was executed by the Institute for the Conservation and Valorization of Artistic Heritage of Italy’s National Research Council. Researcher S. Bracci works to uncover the pigments’ chemical composition.
Restoring Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo (1964) was donated to Florence by artist T. Maselli after Florence’s 1966 flood. Restored by R. Lari and exhibited in 2016 as part of the ‘Beyond Borders’ exhibition at Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum.
Garbo’s mystique under restoration
Conservator R. Lari with Greta Garbo by Pop Art exponent Titina Maselli. A striking rendition of an actress who took the Silver Screen by storm in the 1920s and 1930s, exhibited during ‘Beyond Borders’ at Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum.
Black and white touch-ups
Touch ups by conservator R. Lari. Artist T. Maselli is thought to have anticipated the Pop Art trend during her New York sojourn in the early 1960s. Her Greta Garbo is seen as proof of the artist’s cutting-edge qualities.
Maternity in the twentieth century
For Florence, the mother of all artists. After the Florence flood, Lithuanian sculptor A. Raphael Mafai donated her almost life-size bronze Maternity (1968) to the Civic Museums. Restored in 2014, now at Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum.
Maselli, a mind of her own
TItina Maselli’s Greta Garbo, under restoration. The artist’s modern themes separated her from exponents of the Roman School and Realism, but she did not fit in the ranks of geometric Abstractionists that abounded in early 20th-century Italy.
At home among the giants
Copy of Andrea del Sarto’s Madonna del Sacco by eighteenth-century Florentine painter Irene Parenti Duclos, restored 2011. Above the door of the Accademia Gallery’s Salone dell’Ottocento, amidst ‘memories’ of Canova and Bartolini.
Devoid of symbolism
One of AWA’s protégés is Sicilian artist C. Accardi—Italy’s foremost female abstractionist in the twentieth century. She is known for her dramatic, colorful markings, pointedly devoid of symbolism. Conservator R. Lari with Red and Green, 1966.
Detail of the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion. Note how the top panels are not well finished. The sixteenth-century wood has been damaged by the widespread attack of xylophagous insects.
Detail of the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion, pre-restoration of the panel by R. Buddha. Note the imperfect refinishing of the boards and the three nails holding them together, along with the glue.
A monumental feast
Irene Parent Duclos conference (2011). Hall of the Colossus, Accademia Gallery. A buffet was laid out near Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women. This plaster cast model prefigured the marble work in Piazza della Signoria’s Loggia del Lanzi.
Hiding the damage
Frame detail, Nelli’s Crucifixion, restored 2018. Fan-shaped decorative element placed at the bottom corner of the frame to hide panel breakage. The frame’s blue and gold would be stripped to uncover the black paint underneath.
Holding it together
Detail of the back of Nelli’s multi-panel Crucifixion with a nail holding two panels together. Note the blue frame and how the boards have been attacked by xylophagous insects, which bored holes and tunnels in the sixteenth-century wood.
Nelli’s panel is made up of several boards that have warped due to humidity. Detail of the back, including crossbar fitted with screws, which serves to support the back. Numerous holes made by xylophagous insects are visible.
A joyful discovery
Detail of the back of Nelli’s Crucifixion. Possibly the trademark of the woodworker who built the panel. The same mark was found on the artist’s Lamentation at the San Marco Museum.
Behind the picture
The back of Nelli’s Crucifixion, during restoration. Her panel is made up of eight horizontal boards glued together. The lunette has two transversal beams added for support.
Among friends in Florence
When De Fauveau moved to Florence in 1833, her friends included sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Caroline Bonaparte. She received many commissions, including this monument for poet Louise Favreau, restored 2012.
Restorers L. Pirelli and G. Tonini (2012) found that de Fauveau’s sculptural methods differed from those of her contemporaries, who copied Donatello. She used flat and toothed chisels to create linear movement.
Achieving chromatic balance
This maintenance project removed dirt, dust and accretions on the surface and within the pores of the marble. Specialized treatments aimed to restore the sculpture’s chromatic balance, improving aesthetic appeal.
Fifty years after the flood
The monument’s home for the last fifty years has been the upper loggia of the Santa Croce’s first cloister. De Fauveau’s most recognized masterpiece is just one of the thousands of works of art damaged by 600,000 tons of debris after the 1966 flood.
AWA’s original documentary, made with Artmedia Studios in Florence, is entitled Félicie de Fauveau: A French Sculptress in Grand Tour Florence. It spotlights the artist’s life and the restoration of her most significant marble sculptures.
Her missing eye
Conservator N. MacGregor during initial phases of pictorial restoration, using neutral-tone watercolors on Artemisia’s David and Bathsheba. The missing part of Bathsheba’s face and her eye were not reconstructed.
Bathsheba’s lost beauty
Conservator N. MacGregor removes old pictorial restorations. Unfortunately, a large part of Bathsheba’s face has been lost. Artemisia Gentileschi’s paining was restored as ‘A Christmas gift to the City of Florence’ in 2009.
Colors emerge for Violante
Conservator Liz Wicks uses specially formulated solvent gels. Old repaints from previous restorations are also removed. Ferroni’s vibrant colors emerge and the painting’s details become visible once again.
A frame for Oranges
Cleaning of the back of the frame and nail removal. The original frame hosts Edita Broglio’s Oranges, restored for exhibition at the newly opened Twentieth-century Museum in 2014.
What goes inside?
Removal of staples used to fasten an ID card onto the back of the frame. Its ID tags were partially covered by rubberized paper used to secure Edita Broglio’s Oranges in its frame. Restored in 2014 for just-opened Twentieth-century Museum
The original frame for Edita Broglio’s Oranges had been attacked by xylophagous insects in the past (the bugs were no longer active). Note how their tunnels caused chunks of the frame to fall off.
The back of Amelia Peláez’s still-life was closed up using carton plume, to safeguard its handling and prevent dirt infiltration. Thanks to its 2016 restoration for the Twentieth-Century Museum, it can safely face thermo-hygrometric exchanges.
Wooden battens had been placed inside the frame to adjust its size to that of the Edita Broglio’s Oranges, restored for Florence’s Twentieth-century museum’s opening in 2014.
Closing it up!
Conservator R. Lari closes the back of Amelia Peláez’s still-life. The identification tags on the back of the canvas stretcher were copied and placed on the frame. Ready for exhibition at ‘Beyond Borders’ at the Twentieth-century Museum in 2016.
Small acts of intervention
The tags glued on the base were removed and placed in a transparent plastic bag underneath the sculpture. Felts were placed under the base to level it off, and create better support. Maintenance for Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum.
With the tag still on
This poignant Maternity, under restoration, in 2014. It was presented to the public at the Twentieth-century Museum’s launch of When the World Answered, which featured artist Amalia Ciardi Duprè. Note its ID tags.
Tenderness and dust
The intimacy between mother and son in Ciardi Dupre’s Maternity is strengthened by the figures’ nudity and unique positioning. Pre-restoration, the dust affects the sculptural surface, creating a gray patina.
Conservator Rossella Lari during restoration phase 1, which includes removal of dust from Amalia Ciardi Dupré’s Maternity Lying Down, for Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum in Piazza Santa Maria Novella.
A cloister at the window
The restoration of Amalia Ciardi Duprè’s Maternity Lying Down took place in a storage space belonging to the City of Florence in Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Note the work by artist Renato Ranaldi in the background.
Air and brushes
Cleaning operations on Ciardi Duprè’s sculpture was carried out by removing dust with different types of brushes and then vacuuming it. ‘When it comes to making art, there’s no pretending,’ the artist once said. The same is true of restoration.
Smooth and rough
Conservator R. Lari contemplates Ciardi’s sculpture of great expressive intensity. The roughest areas are treated first, followed by its smoother parts where light has bigger impact. Restored, with 4 other sculptures for the Twentieth-Century Museum.
A saintly honor for Beverley McLachlin
AWA in London at Grey’s Inn to celebrate the ‘saint’ gifted to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin to celebrate her retirement. Before the party starts: L. Jmaeff, L. Falcone, B. McLachlin (the honoree), M. MacKinnon (co-adopter), J. Adams, A. Vogler.
McArdle and MacKinnon, Adopters who advocate
London-based Canadians Margaret McKinnon and Wayne McArdle—adopters of two of Nelli’s Last Supper figures—developed the ‘Art Defense Fund’ for Judas, where ten donors were invited to ‘chip in’ to save the painting’s most unpopular figure.
A smile from the honoree
‘After seeing a revival of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, I started to look at Judas as a more nuanced character,’ says the first female Chief Justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, who participated in the Art Defense Fund for Judas.
An author’s greeting
AWA Board member Margaret MacKinnon welcomes Birth of Venus author Sarah Dunant to Grey’s Inn and Chief Justice McLachlin’s retirement party, where the adoption of another Last Supper figure becomes official.
Elisabeth Chaplin’s The Three Sisters, restored
The Three Sisters. Post restoration. This painting was one of the 686 works of her own (on paper and canvas) that Chaplin gifted to Pitti’s Gallery of Modern Art, now part of the Uffizi Galleries. The bequest was registered in 1973.
Brushwork along the borders of the canvas corresponds to the original support, indicating that Elisabeth Chaplin mounted the painting on its current stretcher bars only after execution. The Three Sisters, Pitti’s Gallery of Modern Art.
The canvas edges has various spots of cracking paint because it was stretched too tightly. In this detailed shot, note the artist’s signature in red: E. Chaplin. The date, 1910, is also visible. Returned to Pitti’s Gallery of Modern Art in 2014.
Original frame made ‘new’
Chaplin’s original frame was restored along with the Pitti’s The Three Sisters. R. Lari performed structural consolidation, replaced missing pieces and executed pictorial restoration, eliminating white scratches.
Secrets of the craft, during conservation. Evident slashes of paint can be seen along the border of Elisabeth Chaplin’s The Three Sisters. This is where the artist would wipe off her brush, to avoid too much paint on its tip.
Hills and valleys in paint
In raking light. Excessive stretching of the canvas caused paint breakage. Chaplin was twenty years old when she painted The Three Sisters and was still perfecting her preparatory techniques.
Up close and in raking light
Raking light. The painting’s background had tuned grayish due to the build up of environmental dirt, which had settled in the curves of the undulating canvas. By re-stretching it, R. Lari was able to partially correct this deficiency.
Colors of time
A color study, E. Chaplin’s The Three Sisters, from Pitti’s Modern Art Gallery. R. Lari examined the blue and red paint in raking light. Each color reacts to time in different ways, as evidenced by the paints’ texturing.
Signed and dated
Signed and dated 1910. Pre-restoration. At the time, Chaplin was little more than an adolescent but she displayed artistic maturity. By the1920s, she would be exhibiting with Cezanne, Matisse, and Van Gogh, showing her work twice at Venice Biennale.
A gaze under raking light
Detail, Elisabeth Chaplin’s group self-portrait under raking light. Because the canvas was industrially produced and not handmade, it proved especially difficult to restore, mainly because of its thinness.
Pictorial restoration. The thin white cracks impacting the painting’s readability were corrected using watercolors. A conservation choice aimed solely at correcting color fragmentation.
The future of an artist
Elisabeth Chaplin, in her group self-portrait, The Three Sisters at the Pitti. Around the time she painted this work, Elizabeth trained by copying works at the Uffizi , much like Angelica Kauffmann and Elisabith Vigèe Le Brun before her.
A face under scrutiny
Raking light shows details of the pictorial surface. Because the canvas was prepared industrially, it is thin and difficult to restore. Chaplin’s self-portrait, detail of The Three Sisters, from Pitti’s Modern Art Gallery, restored in 2014.
Nannette, Chaplin’s younger sister was the artist’s most frequent sitter. She portrays Nanette throughout her childhood, at different ages and in numerous poses, a photography-like reportage in paint!
Waking Nanette with raking light
Nanette, detail, Chaplin’s The Three Sisters. Conservation project coordinator A. Griffo writes in the exhibition catalog ‘Chaplin and Costa’: ‘The small doll-like head of the sleepy young Nanette is in the protective of her sister.’
Elisabeth Chaplin’s The Three Sisters, under diagnostics, pre-restoration. Study of color fragmentation, caused by having stretched the canvas too tight. Prior the project, the work