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Article

Jill Dunkerton

Painting on a wooden support. This article treats the construction and conservation of panel supports from a technical point of view; for the application of the ground and paint layers in a panel painting see Ground, Encaustic painting, Oil painting, and Tempera.

Wood was used in ancient Greece and Rome as a support for encaustic painting, and the first Byzantine icons, of the 6th century, are executed in this technique (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI). In the late 20th century the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches were still using wood for their icons (see Icon), though encaustic painting has long been replaced by tempera. In western and northern Europe wood was not widely used as a support until the Gothic period (see Gothic, §IV, 2, (ii)). The painted altarpieces and altar frontals of the 13th and 14th centuries are on wood, as are the more complex altarpieces that evolved at this period, for which wood was the only suitable support. Most surviving works from the 15th century are on wooden supports, but during this period ...

Article

Mario Bencivenni

(b Siena, May 5, 1842; d Siena, Nov 14, 1895).

Italian architect and teacher. He studied architecture (1857–61) under Lorenzo Doveri (c. 1820–66) and Giulio Rossi (1819–61) at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Siena. At that time the Accademia was an important centre of the Purismo movement, led by the painter Luigi Mussini. On Rossi’s death in 1861, Partini became an assistant teacher at the Accademia. That year he built his first work, a chapel for the Pieri Nerli family at Quinciano in the Val d’Arbia, near Siena. It is a small octagonal temple in a medieval style, decorated internally by contemporary Purismo artists, including Mussini, the sculptor Tito Sarrocchi (1824–1900) and the painter Cesare Maccari. Also in 1861, he took part in a competition to design the new façade of S Maria del Fiore in Florence; although unsuccessful, his tripartite design for the cathedral attracted attention and led to many commissions. These included the funerary monument (...

Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Lonno, nr Bergamo, 1887; d Bergamo, 1974).

Italian restorer. He was the most famous restorer in Italy in the first half of the 20th century, and his work was praised by both Bernard Berenson and Roberto Longhi. A competent but not great painter, Pellicioli based his restoration on the principle of rescuing the original work, but without ever overlooking the aesthetic quality of the painting. His extraordinary skill achieved results that always took careful account of the style, technique and conservation of the originals. In 1960 he restored Antonio Vivarini’s Praglia polyptych (Milan, Brera) and in 1948–9 the same artist’s Charity triptychs (Venice, Accad.). His work on Giovanni Bellini’s Milizia del Mar Virgin and Child (Venice, Accad.; rest. 1938–9) is exemplary for the way that he regained legibility in a painting with extensive small areas of missing paint.

Among the badly worn or damaged paintings restored by Pellicioli are Antonello da Messina’s Deposition (Venice, Correr; rest. ...

Article

Gavin Townsend

(b Lichtenheim, Lower Bavaria, Dec 3, 1818; d Munich, Feb 10, 1901).

German chemist. Although best known for his research into the causes of cholera and typhoid, he was also involved in art and architecture. In 1845, a year after completing his doctorate in chemistry, he obtained a post at the Royal Mint of Bavaria. Here he discovered a way of reproducing porporino, an antique red glass much used by the ancient Romans and admired by Ludwig I of Bavaria. In 1849, when a professor of medical chemistry at the university in Munich, Pettenkofer developed, at the request of the architect Leo von Klenze, a process of manufacturing a building cement that was the equal of Portland cement. Pettenkofer’s greatest contribution to art, however, lay in the restoration of paintings. In 1863 he was asked to find a way of reversing the growth of mildew on the varnishes of oil paintings in the various galleries of Munich. Through experimentation and microscopic analysis, he discovered that the varnishes could be cleared through the application of hot alcohol vapour. In this endeavour Pettenkofer introduced the use of the ...

Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Paris, 1705; d Paris, c. 1777).

French restorer. He first experimented with transferring paintings on to new backings in the French royal collection c. 1740. He achieved extraordinary notoriety for his relining, in 1749–50, of Andrea del Sarto’s Charity and even more so for the relining a year later of Raphael’s St Michael (both Paris, Louvre). Using what he described as a ‘secret’ method, Picault claimed to be able to guarantee paintings an indefinite life. The problem of exactly what this method was and how Picault was able to command his extraordinarily high fees has given rise to lively debate among scholars and conservators. He apparently removed the paint layer from each picture by submitting it to nitric acid vapours; he then applied the painting to its new support using a composition containing such substances as rosin. Their poor durability always led to new relinings being needed within a few years. Raphael’s Mackintosh Virgin and Child...

Article

Valeria Farinati

(b Venice, Aug 23, 1683; d Padua, Nov 15, 1761).

Italian scientist and archaeologist. He is noted for his work as a technical consultant specializing in architectural and hydraulic problems. He began his studies in 1690 in Venice, at the Seminario Patriarcale, Murano, completing them c. 1705 at the school of the Somaschi Fathers at Santa Maria della Salute. In 1708 he was appointed a professor of astronomy at the University of Padua. On 30 November 1710 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, London; this was followed by membership of the most famous Italian academies, as well as those of Berlin (1715), St Petersburg (1735) and Paris (1739). He maintained a continuous correspondence with the most eminent scientists and men of culture, both Italian and foreign, and published numerous works on scientific subjects. In the course of Poleni’s career at the University of Padua, he was professor of philosophy (c. 1715–19...

Article

María Teresa Dabrio González

(b Pontevedra, 1937).

Spanish architect, restorer, theorist and teacher. He studied architecture at the Escuela Superior de Arquitectura, Barcelona, where he graduated in 1966 and earned his doctorate two years later. He subsequently developed a career in private practice and also taught architectural design and urban planning at the Escuela de Arquitectura, La Coruña. His interest in the restoration and preservation of the urban environment, especially in Galicia, is reflected in numerous projects in the area, for example the refurbishing of the Casa del Concejo (1982), Brión. Other singular projects that characterize his close identification with this region are competition entries such as his ‘Study of the Natural Elements and Artificial Objects that Make Up the Galician Physical Milieu’ (1983) sponsored by the Ministry of Public Works and City Planning of Madrid, and his design (1989) for a lighthouse in Malpica, Costa de la Muerte. He was also one of the architects invited to design the Spanish Pavilion for the Exposición Universal in Seville in ...

Article

Dianne Timmerman and Frank van den Hoek

(b Eemnes, June 11, 1859; d Zeist, Oct 28, 1922).

Dutch architect. He was the son of a Dutch Reformed Minister and studied at Delft Polytechnic, where he was influenced by the Renaissance Revival doctrines of Eugen Gugel. For a long time Posthumus Meyjes himself worked in this style, most notably in his design for the administrative office (1882–4) of the Dutch Iron Railway Company at Droogbak 1A, Amsterdam. In 1882 he became architect to the railway company, in which position he designed the station in Delft, and in 1888 he established himself as an independent architect in Amsterdam, where he was appointed architect of the church buildings of the Dutch Reformed community. In this capacity he built several churches and supervised the restoration over several years of the medieval Nieuwe Kerk on the Dam in Amsterdam. Around 1900 Posthumus Meyjes’s style changed and began to show similarities to the work of H. P. Berlage, for example in the office building (...

Article

(b Radensleben, nr Neuruppin, June 23, 1807; d Radensleben, March 11, 1877).

German architect and conservationist. He was born into a family of landed gentry and trained in Berlin as an architect under Karl Friedrich Schinkel. From his student days Quast became increasingly interested in historic buildings, and in 1837 he published a pamphlet calling for the extension of the conservation measures in Prussia that had been initiated by Schinkel in 1815. He was appointed Head of Conservation for Prussia in 1843, in which capacity he travelled throughout Germany, writing reports and advising local authorities. His role was purely advisory without any real powers, much of his time being spent in negotiations, often with little success. Sketching threatened buildings on his tours, he established an invaluable archive of Germany’s historic fabric. Although he enjoyed close links with the royal family, he was never given adequate resources, and he campaigned endlessly for the appointment of assistants and the establishment of comprehensive survey and listing procedures. He invariably criticized over-enthusiastic restoration attempts and was sensitive to the history of a building, including its subsequent alterations. He was personally involved in many projects, notably the church in Gernrode (restoration completed ...

Article

Stephen L. Little

[Jen Jen-fa; zi Ziming; hao Yueshan Daoren]

(b Qinglongzhen [now Qingpu, Songjiang, Shanghai Municipality], 1255; d 1328).

Chinese painter. Under the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) he became an official, rising to the level of Vice-President of the River Conservation Bureau. He was famous for his paintings of horses, which were much admired by both his Mongol and Chinese patrons. In horse painting he followed in the tradition of the Song-period (960–1279) artist Li Gonglin, which was characterized by use of the ‘iron-wire’ line and a minimum of shading. Ultimately, however, Ren’s style can be traced to the Tang (ad 618–907) painters Yan Liben and Han Gan.

Ren’s earliest surviving painting is dated 1280, indicating that he was a mature artist by his mid-twenties. Although he worked as an official under the alien Mongol emperors, he was capable of paintings that incorporated clear political messages. The most famous is Fat and Lean Horses (Beijing, Pal. Mus.), in which, according to his inscription, the fat horse represents the self-satisfied, wealthy official and the lean one the humble, poor, self-deprecating official. Most extant works by Ren are depictions of horses, but ...

Article

Resin  

C. V. Horie and John S. Mills

Material of either natural or synthetic origin, used by artists and conservators for Adhesives, binding media (see Vehicle) and Varnish. All resins are insoluble in water, but wholly or partly soluble in other liquids such as drying oils, alcohol or turpentine.

With the exception of shellac, natural resins are of vegetable origin and the more readily available of them have been used by artists since the earliest times. In the temperate latitudes of the northern hemisphere the main source of resins are the conifers (Coniferae family), particularly those of the Pinaceae and Cupressaceae subfamilies. The former includes the most abundant source, the pines (yielding common turpentine which, by distillation, yields oil of turpentine and residual rosin or colophony), along with the larches (the source of Venice turpentine) and the firs (Strasbourg turpentine and Canada balsam); while the latter includes the source of the North African sandarac resin. In the southern hemisphere the genus ...

Article

Louise Noelle

(b Tepic, Feb 26, 1853; d Mexico City, Jan 3, 1927).

Mexican architect, restorer, and teacher. After studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, he returned to Mexico in 1879 to practise as an architect–engineer and teach in the Escuela de Ingeniería and the Escuela de Arquitectura, Mexico City. As an architect his most notable project is the monument to Independence (1890–1910) on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City, on which he collaborated with the sculptor Enrique Alciati. The slender column rises from a carefully worked base that includes sculptures of historical figures associated with the independence movement, topped by a gilded statue of a winged victory. The Teatro Juárez (1892–1903), Guanajuato, which has a Neo-classical exterior and a neo-Moorish interior, is a competently executed example of his eclecticism. Rivas Mercado also designed domestic buildings, including his own house (1898), Calle de Héroes, which has been poorly preserved, and that of the Macías family (...

Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Berlin, 1891; d London, 1973).

English restorer of German birth. He worked at the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum, Berlin, from 1929 to 1933, then emigrated to England and from 1934 worked at the National Gallery, London. He believed that paintings needed to be cleaned completely in order to reveal the original tones of colour, which he regarded as an essential element in any great master’s message. The restorations he carried out on a number of major works evacuated from the National Gallery during World War II were put on show in the Exhibition of Cleaned Pictures, 1936–47, organized in 1947 by Sir Philip Hendy. This exhibition sparked a far-reaching debate, later known as the ‘cleaning controversy’, in which most art historians opposed the results achieved by the total removal of old varnish (see Conservation and restoration, §II).

Ruhemann expounded the theories he had developed during 20 years of research in his book, The Cleaning of Paintings...

Article

Jean-Michel Leniaud

(b Paris, Feb 18, 1820; d Cannes, May 8, 1887).

French architect, restorer, teacher and writer. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in the studio of Simon-Claude Constant-Dufeux. He was subsequently appointed junior lecturer and in due course the first professor of the history of the decorative arts at the Ecole Royale de Dessin (later the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs), where he remained for the whole of his teaching career. In 1844 he asked to be appointed Inspecteur des Travaux at Notre-Dame, Paris, a post for which he was recommended by the Broglie family. In 1848 he was appointed Diocesan Architect to Bayeux Cathedral and to diocesan buildings in Coutances, and shortly afterwards he became Auditeur to the Commission des Arts et Edifices Religieux. His later diocesan posts were at Séez (1854), Nevers (1857), Albi (1877–9) and Reims (1879). In 1883 Ruprich-Robert was unable to visit his construction sites due to ill-health and the following year he requested the appointment of deputies at Reims and Nevers, although he refused to relinquish his artistic control of the construction works....

Article

Sanchi  

Michael D. Willis

[Sāñcī; anc. Kākaṇāya; Kākaṇāva; Kākanādaboṭa; Botaśrīparvata]

Buddhist site in Madhya Pradesh, India, 70 km from Bhopal, best known for three well-preserved stupas, part of a group of 51 monuments dating from the 3rd century bc to the 13th century ad. A full excavation and conservation effort was undertaken at Sanchi by John Marshall in 1912–19, bringing the monuments to their present condition. Marshall numbered the monuments 1 to 50, retaining most of the numbering allocated by Alexander Cunningham in a survey carried out in the mid-19th century. An additional monastery (51) was excavated in 1936. Since that time a Buddhist temple in an ‘Indo-revival’ style has been built on the hill, and the site’s Archaeological Museum constructed near the railway station.

Sanchi does not seem to have been the focus of any event in the life of the Buddha or his immediate followers. It prospered largely because it met the requirements for an ideal Buddhist retreat: situated on a hill 90 m high, it was a place of beauty and tranquillity not far from the commercial and political centre of Vidisha. The earliest possible reference to Sanchi is in the ...

Article

Yvonne Janková

(b Bělá u Rychnova nad Kněžnou, Dec 28, 1814; d Slatiňany, April 4, 1902).

Bohemian architect and conservator. He served an apprenticeship as a bricklayer in Žleby and Kutná Hora and then worked as foreman and draughtsman in Vienna, where he studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. In 1837 he went to Slatiňany in eastern Bohemia, where he started his own business as a builder and developer. He worked throughout north-eastern Bohemia, designing and building residential buildings, schools, town halls, hospitals, theatres, factories, mills, courtyards, churches and tombs. He also studied Gothic architecture and restored and rebuilt numerous medieval buildings, including town fortifications and religious buildings. In 1844 he became the municipal architect for Chrudim, where he built two bridges, a hospital, a school, a parsonage, a court-house, a theatre and, after the fire in 1850, a number of town houses. From 1853 he was a government inspector of ancient buildings for eastern Bohemia and reported on medieval works of art. He restored many churches in the region, including the cathedral of the Holy Spirit (...

Article

Alessandro Conti

(b Bergamo, 1798; d Bergamo, 1873).

Italian writer and restorer. He wrote the most important 19th-century handbook on the restoration of paintings. Heir to the 18th-century tradition of studying the physical and chemical aspects of art, Secco-Suardo was able to explain problems with a clarity that makes his work still irreplaceable. The manual was probably compiled after 1858, when he gave up his administrative duties for the Austrian government. The first part of the text appeared in 1866 but the entire work was published only posthumously in 1894, and the world it mirrors is that of the restorers who worked for the great collectors of the first half of the 19th century. According to Secco-Suardo, the primary concern of restoration should be the visual pleasure of a painting rather than strict conservation, and the restorer must endeavour to conceal the distinction between the old work and the new. Any additions should imitate the original and repainting should be removed only if of poor quality, though in certain circumstances a colour that has become badly altered may be repainted. When it comes to the appearance of paintings, Secco-Suardo shows a typically Romantic taste for patina as a means of showing age. His link with the methods practised in the first half of the 19th century can also be seen in his recommendations for the transfer of frescoes: he merely advises on their removal, with no regard for their character as painted plaster and with none of the consideration that Gaetano Bianchi had shown for them as part of a building’s polychrome decoration....

Article

David Cast

(b London, 1771; d Brighton, Nov 5, 1843).

English connoisseur, museum curator and picture restorer. He was born into a Huguenot family long settled in London that claimed connection with the French noble family of the name of Seguier. He first trained as a painter under Philippe-Joseph Tassaert (1732–1803), and also possibly under George Morland, a family friend, and worked as a professional artist specializing in topographical views of London and making copies of Old Masters. Following his marriage to the wealthy Ann Clowden, he gave up painting and turned his attention to connoisseurship, providing help to collectors of pictures. His clients included G. Watson Taylor, Sir Charles Long (later 1st Baron Farnborough), Sir Robert Peel and, most importantly, George IV, whom he advised on collecting Dutch and Flemish pictures (London, Buckingham Pal., Royal Col.). He was also appointed Conservator of the Royal Picture Galleries by George IV, a position he retained under William IV and Queen Victoria. For many years Seguier was Superintendent of the British Institution, London, holding summer exhibitions of Old Masters and winter exhibitions of contemporary painters. With his brother ...

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Viktorovich)

(b Kishinyov [now Chişinău], Moldova, Sept 26, 1873; d Moscow, May 24, 1949).

Russian architect, urban planner and restorer, of Moldovan birth. Although by nature a historicist, to whom undecorated Modernism was a response to poverty rather than an aim in itself, he came to occupy a central position in the formative years of Soviet Modernist architecture during the 1920s. His own best works, however, date in general from the periods before the Revolution of 1917 and after 1930, when public architectural tastes were closer to his own.

His father was a minor official in Russian provincial administration in Kishinyov. Orphaned while still at school, but a highly talented draughtsman, Shchusev went to St Petersburg and entered the Academy of Arts in 1891 studying, after the reforms of 1894, in the studio of Leonty Benois. His diploma project of 1897 won him the Academy’s gold medal and a 16-month trip to Europe in 1898–9. On his return he worked for Benois until receiving his own first significant commission in ...

Article

Rayne Roper

(b Savona; fl Rome, 1551; d Rome, c. 1589).

Italian sculptor and restorer. While earlier sources incorrectly state that he was from Sarzana, more recent documentation accurately cites his birthplace as Savona. The biographical information pertaining to Sormani remains incomplete, but it is suggested that he worked as an apprentice in his father’s workshop in Carrara after spending his early childhood in Savona. Sormani worked in Rome from 1551 until his death, remaining there except for a brief return visit to Carrara in 1561–2, possibly concerning the death of his father. In addition to minor restoration and sculptural work in Rome during the earlier years of his career, Sormani is credited with an extensive amount of sculpture in the basilica of S Maria Maggiore, Rome. In 1574 Cardinal Felice Peretti (later Pope Sixtus V) commissioned a tomb for Pope Nicholas IV in S Maria Maggiore from his architect Domenico Fontana. Fontana designed the structure of the tomb itself, and Sormani completed the marble sculptures that stand within its three rectangular niches. Sormani executed for the central, more prominent niche a seated statue of ...