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Tuesday, May 30 • 5:00pm - 5:30pm
(Objects) The Treatment of Two Terracotta Architectural Reliefs by Andrea della Robbia at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art has among its extensive collection of Renaissance-period glazed terracotta, two masterpieces by Andrea della Robbia (1435-1523) that have recently undergone major conservation treatment. The lunette of Saint Michael the Archangel, which sustained extensive damage after a tragic fall in 2008, returned to The Met's galleries in 2015 after years of meticulous reconstruction, filling, and inpainting of losses, with results that are only visible at close range. More recently, a large tondo with a central representation of the cardinal virtue Prudence was treated in preparation for the current exhibition Della Robbia: Sculpting with Color in Renaissance Florence, returning the piece to public view after being kept in storage for more than a generation. While daunting, the treatment of the Saint Michael lunette was relatively straightforward, but culminated in the creation of an elegant mounting system designed and fabricated by The Met's preparators. The new mounting system was designed to secure each of the sculpture's original 12 interlocking sections independently while allowing the relief to be seen clearly as a whole. In addition to a review of this mount, some discussion of visual choices regarding the separation between the sections will be included in this presentation. The massive tondo of Prudence, composed of 15 molded and modelled sections comprising a central tondo surrounded by a colorful garland, was found to be structurally unstable in its 150-year-old mount, as well as having many aesthetic issues due to previous restoration campaigns. Conservators disassembled the sections with the goal of remounting this large work in preparation for travel. Following disassembly, the sections could be more carefully examined, and the surfaces were cleaned revealing a previously unknown numbering system. This discovery led to fruitful collaboration between conservators and curators to determine the final and dramatically different arrangement of the tondo's garland. To prepare Prudence for travel, an innovative mounting system was developed and fabricated by the conservators. Inspired by the mounting system created for Saint Michael the Archangel but modified for the more massive tondo, an aluminum honeycomb backing panel combined with carbon fiber clips allowed the tondo to travel safely and be displayed in the galleries. Details about the Prudence tondo's disassembly process, the rearrangement of the garland sections, as well as the fabrication of the carbon fiber clips will be highlighted in this talk.

avatar for Carolyn Riccardelli

Carolyn Riccardelli

Conservator, Objects Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Carolyn Riccardelli is a conservator in the Department of Objects Conservation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where she is responsible for structural issues related to large-scale objects. From 2005-2014 her primary project was Tullio Lombardo’s Adam for which she was the principal... Read More →

avatar for Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker

Conservator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Wendy Walker specializes in the conservation of ceramics and has a special interest in the technology of pottery. After conservation training at West Dean College in England, she worked at the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum and as site conservator on several excavations... Read More →

Tuesday May 30, 2017 5:00pm - 5:30pm CDT
Crystal Ballroom B Lobby Level, West Tower