Uffizi, for the first time a 16th-century painting restored with essential oils

For the first time in the world, 16th century canvas was restored with a mixture of essential oils. It happens thanks to the collaboration between Uffizi and Gemelli Polyclinic. The painting is “Silence” by Jacobo Zocchi.

For the first time in the world, one 16th century canvas Recovered with help Essential oils of vegetable origin. This is with all materials Green color, one might say. The work in question is Silence from Jacobo Zucchi (Florence, circa 1542 – Rome, circa 1596), preserved in Uffizi In Terrazzo della Carte Geografiche, the intervention was the result of a collaboration between the Museum of Florence and Gemili Medical Complex from Rome. The pledge was made in laboratoriesOpificio delle Peter Dore From Florence who collaborated with Microbiology Laboratory technicians at Policlinico A. Gemelli IRCCS: It was up to the microbes of the Catholic University – Fondazione Policlinico Agostino Gemelli IRCCS to develop a mixture of bitter orange hydrogen and cinnamon bark essential oil that allowed the restoration of the plate, which is part of a nine-plate cycle It adorns the wooden ceiling of Terrazzo, which recently reopened to the public. Of the nine paintings that came from the Florentine Palace in Rome and were transferred to Florence by order of Ferdinand I in 1588, only Il Silenzio exhibited this particular green technique during its restoration phase. The results of this study were published in the “Journal of Fungi”, a prestigious international scientific journal

The idea stems from a note: many of the chemicals used in restoration Potentially hazardous to both artwork and human health. For this reason, studies have been underway for several years to identify alternative restoration techniques that are effective but at the same time less aggressive. From this point of view, the research focused on some essential oils and hydrolases, which are products of natural origin known for their powerful antibacterial and antifungal effect, which are valuable.

“The SilenceExplain the microbiologist Mora de VitoResearcher in Microbiology and Clinical Microbiology at the Catholic University, Rome Campus, “demonstrated colonization by a fungal bio-pathogen on the back of cloth. With Dr. Deborah Minotti, Restorer, Dr. Daphne De Luca, Restorer and Contract Lecturer at the University of Urbino and Professor Francesca Bogli, my colleague, years ago we did research on the use of essential oils and moisturizers in restorations.After actually completing all the experiments in the lab and checking the effectiveness of these substances on some old oil paintings, we requested the appropriate licenses from the Uffizi direction to use this “treatment” on “silence” ‘, a 1572 canvas by Jacopo Zocchi, stepdaughter of Giorgio Vasari. The proposal for the “green” restoration was favorably accepted, so we began a tandem work between Rome and Florence.

To classify pathogens at the diagnostic level, Gemelli’s microbiologists asked the Technical Department of Restoration (entrusted to Opificio delle Pietre Dure) to take samples from the back and from the front of the plate in a non-invasive manner. Thus, the samples were collected by the doctor Deborah Minotti (who have graduated from and frequently collaborate with the Florentine Institute of Restoration), pass smears over the colonized part and use, only on the back, fungi tape, a special “scotch” that is delicately applied to artwork to collect contaminating microorganisms. These samples were then sent to Rome, to the Microbiology Laboratory of the Agostino Gemelli IRCCS University Polyclinic managed by Prof. Maurizio Sanguinetti, Professor of Microbiology at the Catholic University, Rome Campus, where they were bred and written. Professor Sanguinetti explains, “This allowed us to isolate the two fungal strains that colonized the work and test them in the lab with our essential oils and aqueous compounds to verify their efficacy. The contaminated mushrooms were sensitive to our formula blend featuring bitter orange hydrosol (Citrus aurantium var. Amara) and a very small amount of the essential oil. Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomun zeylanicum)”.

At this point, everything was ready for surgery. For the treatment of an important patient, a special “room” is equipped for placing the plate during treatment. After spraying the mixture on the back of the cloth and placing absorbent paper wet in the same mixture on it, the panel was placed inside the “chamber”, a kind of Melinex Large Envelope (Mono-silicon polyester film is used in some stages of restoration). The cloth prepared in this way is placed on a heating and suction table for the first few hours; Then he was left overnight in the enclosed environment of the ‘room’ with the table turned off. The heating helped to allow the fungi to enter the reproductive phase, which is the Achilles heel, and to allow the treatment to work better by neutralizing the biotic factors. The next day I remove everything and dry the cloth.

Dr. De Vito was in continuous visual and audio communication (via Whatsapp) for 24 hours with Dr. Minotti, communicating and learning about the finer points of the new microbiological treatment. The best way to apply. At the end of the restoration, the swabs were sent back to Rome, repeat the cultures and check if the mushrooms were still present. No fungal growth was shown from the cultures. “And so an interesting teamwork has been completed,” adds Professor Sanguinetti. The Green Mission succeeded, and silence returned to the ceiling of the Geographical Map Hall. It has been a pioneering approach to restoring ancient works using essential oils and aqueous materials. This study could pave the way for new applications in the future on many of the heritage artworks of mankind that are at the same time efficient in operation and safe for the operator.”

The director of the museum concluded the “Uffizi Gallery” Eck SchmidtThey are proud to work on the most avant-garde fronts of scientific research.

Photo: Jacopo Zocchi, Silence (1572; oil on canvas, 135 x 151 cm; Florence, Uffizi Galleries, Terrazzo delle Carte Geografiche). Before and after the restoration

Uffizi, for the first time a 16th-century painting restored with essential oils
Uffizi, for the first time a 16th century painting restored with essential oils

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