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Villa La Pietra

2016, 2017

Dry cleaning paintings removed from the Camera dei Genatori. 
Image by Sarah Mastrangelo.

During the spring of 2017, I took part in a one-week project to assess and stabilize several polychrome objects from the Villa’s collection, under the supervision of conservator Jack Soultanian. The objects selected for treatment were two gilded and polychrome sixteenth century candlesticks in the form of angels. Our treatments consolidated lifting and flaking ground and paint layers, and used watercolor to reduce the disruption of losses in the sculptural forms.​ 

Villa la Pietra, a historic home and garden located in Florence, was bequeathed to NYU in 1994 by Sir Harold Acton. The conservation of the Acton Collection, which contains more than 6000 objects, is performed by the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage. American and Italian conservators work on a wide range of objects. Each year there are a series of one- to two-week projects led by skilled conservators in which students are able to participate.


In the summer of 2016, I participated in a two-week paintings project led by Jean Dommermuth. This project continued work on pictures that hang in the Camera dei Genitori, a focal bedroom of the house. The paintings selected for a more in-depth examination, surface cleaning and other minor treatments included those that were difficult to see due to their high placement on the wall during the initial survey. I worked on two of the four paintings, which included Portrait of a Gentleman in a Red Robe, by an unknown Venetian artist, and Portrait of Grand Duke Cosimo II and his wife Maria Maddalena of Austria.

Placement of the polychrome candle sticks in the Sala Rossa, living room of Villa La Pietra. Image by NYU, Villa La Pietra, 1994.  

The next year I returned to Villa la Pietra to take part in a cross-disciplinary catalog project focusing on the villa's collection of thirteenth-century Tuscan panel paintings and polychrome sculptures. Working with NYU PhD. candidate, Scatlett Strauss, I wrote catalog entries and scholarly essays that included an informed discussion of materials and techniques. Our research focus was an early duecento altar attributed to Manfredino da Pistoia. 

Detail showing watercolor inpainting on 16th century polychrome and gilded sculpture. 

Left: before treatment, Right: after treatment

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