Italy’s biggest daily newspaper, La Repubblica, has a stunning photo slide show on the Florence section of today’s online version- behind the scenes looks at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the world’s leading art restoration laboratory.
In the photos, restorers at work with cutting edge, high-tech instruments and tools perch over such masterpieces as the Giotto crucifix from the church of Ognissanti, a tabernacle by Fra’ Angelico and the San Zeno altarpiece by Mantegna. The clash between the white lab-coated and goggled restorers against the rich colors and textures of these Renaissance masterpieces is striking and fosters appreciation for the delicate and highly scientific work of these scientists.
The Opificio delle Pietre Dure was founded in the late 16th century by Ferdinand I de’ Medici, who wanted to create a studio for the creation of precious stone-enlaid furnishings. The studio continued producing with the reign of the Lorraines in Tuscany. During the royal reign of Italy, the studio became more of a laboratory for restoration and conservation of Florence’s artistic patrimony. During the great flood of 1966, the Opificio played a huge and invaluable role of conserving the art works in danger of being lost forever to the destruction of the rising tide water.
Context Florence offers clients the rare and unique opportunity of visiting the Opificio’s laboratories on our Restoring Florence walk; offering the chance to see these restorers in action, learn about and see up-close the pieces they are working on and learn more about the Opificio’s dramatic history and its future, which is increasingly important in this age of pollution and climactic damage. An accomplished restorer, Bettina Schindler, who studied at the Opificio, leads this walk, giving her unparalleled insiders view of the ins and outs of the studio. Bettina will also be leading our Salvaging Florence Out of Context event, in which Context teams up with local non-profit Friends of Florenceto explore some of their current restoration projects in town