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Tuesday, May 30 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Objects) The Conservation of Della Robbia Sculpture: An Exhibition as Initiator of Work

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This presentation will provide an introduction and launch to a group of consecutive talks on the conservation of glazed terracotta sculpture from the Italian Renaissance. The talks will cover both recent exhibition related conservation treatment on important works of three generations of the Della Robbia family and its related workshops, and selected other non-exhibition related treatment of this material. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the exciting 2004 rediscovery in storage and subsequent treatment of Giovanni Francesco Rustici's monochromatic glazed terracotta figure of St. John the Baptist (ca 1505-15) became the impetus for a renewed focus on glazed terracotta sculpture, culminating in the exhibition Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, August 9-December 4, 2016; and the National Gallery of Art, February 5-June 4, 2017). This exhibition, the first ever devoted to the Della Robbia in the United States, brought together forty-six works from 21 American collections (19 museums and 2 private) as well as several important Italian loans. This presentation will begin by outlining how the exhibition has stimulated conservation and technical research of these works in many lending collections. Beyond the exhibition itself, works from the Della Robbia and Buglioni workshops at several other institutions and private collections have been treated and studied, both in the US and internationally. Many of these projects will be presented in related talks. As the catalyst for the exhibition, the treatment of St. John the Baptist will be described. Decisions about the extent of final compensation were made with the curatorial input and included the restoration of key missing elements (finger, hoof, and neck). The treatment revealed information about the artist's working methods as he modeled the sculpture in the round and provides a jumping off point for comparison with the Della Robbia production.

avatar for Abigail Hykin

Abigail Hykin

Conservator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Abigail Hykin is Conservator of Objects at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Besides work on Della Robbia sculpture, her recent projects have included the treatment of a 12th century Chinese sculpture, Guanyin, Bodhisattva of Compassion and Nishida Jun’s massive ceramic Zetsu No... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 2:00pm - 2:30pm CDT
Crystal Ballroom B Lobby Level, West Tower