Application of the Methodology

Application of the methodology will provide an opportunity to verify and illustrate its validity and its direct implications for wall painting conservation. Working closely with conservators, the OMWP project team will use the methodology to address wall painting conservation problems related to organic material present in paintings.

conservation image

Noninvasive research work began in spring 2005 on the wall paintings cycle of the Lives of Saint John and Saint Stephen (painted in the fifteenth century by Filippo Lippi in Saint Stephen's Cathedral in Prato), in conjunction with a conservation project being carried out under the supervision of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage. The conservation work (under the direction of Mark Gittins of the conservation firm Conservazione Beni Culturali) has been ongoing since spring 2001. The paintings have a complicated conservation history—the current conservation effort is the third in the past century. The Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, an OMWP partner, has been responsible for the project's diagnostic investigations. The OMWP team's work on the Lippi cycle complements research already conducted at the site during conservation. The scientific work at this site, along with the conservation work, will be completed by the end of 2006.

The OMWP team is currently researching other potential case study sites where the OMWP guidelines can be applied from the beginning of a conservation program to support conservation treatment planning. OMWP research work will include the integration of the various techniques that can address questions from conservators, as well as questions that require knowledge of the organic materials present in the wall. In addition, it is hoped that this work will provide an opportunity for better understanding of the original binding materials used in the paintings. This information is important not only to enrich the field's scant knowledge about the use of organic materials in wall paintings but also to provide support information for future studies of paintings by the same artist or paintings from a similar period.

Not all of the investigative techniques tested in the first phase will be applied to the case studies. Only those deemed appropriate, based on ongoing study and the needs of the wall paintings, will be employed. The case studies aim to demonstrate the iterative nature of scientific investigation and the essential role the conservator plays in the practical application of conservation science.

Last updated: March 2011