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Tuesday, May 30 • 3:15pm - 3:30pm
(Objects) Conservation of 15th and 16th century Italian Glazed Terracotta

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Over the past 15 or so years, Art Conservation Group has worked on more than a dozen glazed Italian terracotta sculptures, many of them from the Della Robbia workshops; some small, several have been life sized. All of these works have come to us after purchase from the open market or auction house; occasionally they are brought to us by dealers. Renaissance-era painted surfaces are altered in appearance by the aging of the paint and varnish layers; however beautiful a painted Madonna and Child remains, it cannot look as it did the day of its creation. The chemistry that takes place over time, not to mention generations of restorative work, renders these surfaces vastly changed. One of the glories of glazed ceramics is that beneath the layers of grime and old restoration, the surfaces are often beautifully preserved. If properly treated, a glazed surface cannot really be over-cleaned; removal of grime and old restoration only further reveals its original surface, its original appearance. Though there are often multiple areas of damage, adjacent surfaces largely inform the viewer as to how the whole would have looked. In essence, it is more of a viable option to strive for ‘an original appearing surface' on a glazed ceramic work than on any other media of the period. However, depending on context, this is not always the best objective; part of the journey of each treatment is deciding on the most appropriate extent of restoration. As a studio in private practice, beyond our mandate to treat each object within the AIC code of ethics, our choices are also directed by the clients' needs or the fact that they are going out to the market. While it is always appropriate to preserve some sense of an object's visual antiquity, we consider the context the piece will be placed when determining our aesthetic goal(s). In some cases we tip the balance more toward preserving a greater proportion of glaze or fabric losses, for example; and in some cases we lean toward carrying out more of a full restoration. The trio of Santi Buglioni's near life size sculptures that were showcased in the 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston exhibition, are a case in point. Aesthetic choices during our treatment Saint Bernardino, differed from Tony Sigel's choices during his conservation of Saint John of Capistrano - a treatment that he will present in a companion talk - and both our choices differed from those of the Uffizi treatment of Saint Francis(?). Our part of a joint presentation with Tony Sigel will discuss our general approach for the treatment of these terracotta sculptures. We will include a review of the general materials that we use and discuss some of our choices in light of our work in the private sector.

avatar for Leslie Ransick Gat, [PA]

Leslie Ransick Gat, [PA]

Conservator, Art Conservation Group
Leslie Ransick Gat, President and Principal Objects Conservator at Art Conservation Group, has worked in private practice and for major museums since 1981. Leslie holds a Certificate in Art Conservation and a Masters degree in Art History from New York University Institute of Fine... Read More →

avatar for Erin Toomey, [PA]

Erin Toomey, [PA]

Objects Conservator, Art Conservation Group
Erin Toomey, Senior Managing Conservator at Art Conservation Group, earned a Certificate in Art Conservation and a Masters degree in Art History from New York University Institute of Fine Arts in 2004. Prior to joining Art Conservation Group, Erin worked in the objects conservation... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 3:15pm - 3:30pm
Crystal Ballroom B Lobby Level, West Tower

Attendees (98)