37489 - Processes in Conservation

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the Student will acquire knowledge: - to recognize constituent materials and forms of alteration and/or deterioration of the work of art, - to implement the most appropriate investigations to assess the state of conservation, - to provide the conservator-restorer with useful information for the preparation of an adequate intervention project using a dialectical and interdisciplinary approach. The student will be able to: - recognize techniques and constituent materials of artefacts (mainly polychrome wooden sculpture and easel paintings) - identify the main causes and phenomena of degradation - identify suitable analytical methodologies - acquire basic knowledge on materials and restoration techniques - learn methods and tools for preventive conservation, with reference to light, temperature, and R.H. - improve capacity to team work - apply the concepts learned, develop a critical and ethical approach to conservative intervention, and know how to communicate through specific terminology the data collected by transferring them into a treatment proposal or a condition report - interact with the professional figure of the Conservator-Restorer in a dialectical and interdisciplinary relationship

Course contents

  • Constituent materials of the supports: wood and canvas
    • Identification of wood species and textile fibers, processing techniques, technical history of art (outline)
    • Laboratory: microscopic analysis of wood and textile fibers samples
  • Constituent materials of the pictorial layers: preparation, polychrome, gilding
    • Identification techniques for the original strata and for overpaintings
    • Laboratory: information on sampling methods for analysis and cross-sections on mock-ups
  • Support deterioration: mechanical, biological, microbiological
    • Recognition methods and application technologies; disinfection, disinfestation
    • Laboratory: Test on mock-ups or available works
  • Deterioration of pictorial layers: mechanical, biological, microbiological
    • Decohesion and detachment / lifting / falling phenomena; overpaintings
    • Laboratory: re-adhesion and consolidation (materials and techniques) on mock-ups; cleaning (outline)
  • Treaties and scientific bibliography: bibliographic references, sources, web tools, dedicated contents, etc.


- S.P. Diodato, I buoni colori di una volta. Ricettario fotografico per conoscere e fabbricare pigmenti, leganti, vernici e materiali artistici antichi, direttamente dai trattati medievali, Diodato, Sambuceto (CH) 2018

- M. Matteini, R. Mazzeo, A. Moles, Chemistry for restoration, Nardini, Firenze 2016

- Cremonesi P. Signorini E., Un approccio alla pulitura dei dipinti mobili, Il Prato, Padova 2016

- F. Tonini, La scultura lignea. Tecniche e restauro. Manuale per allievi restauratori, Il Prato, Padova 2015

- D. De Luca, I manufatti dipinti su supporto tessile. Vademecum per allievi restauratori, Il Prato, Padova 2015

M. Ciatti, C. Castelli, A. Santacesaria (a cura di), Dipinti su tavola. La tecnica e la conservazione dei supporti, Edifir, Firenze 2013

- S. Rinaldi, Storia tecnica dell’arte. Materiali e metodi della pittura e della scultura (secc. V-XIX), Carocci, Roma 2011

- D. Pinna, M. Galeotti, R. Mazzeo (Ed.), Scientific examination for the investigation of paintings. A handbook for conservator-restorers, Centro Di, Firenze 2009

- AA. VV., Leganti, Fissativi, Pigmenti. Metodi di Riconoscimento. DIMOS, parte 1-modulo 3, Istituto Centrale del Restauro, Roma 1978

Teaching methods

The course will consist of:

classroom lectures with PowerPoint presentations and videos,

insights on specific articles

practical tests on mock-ups or artifacts available in the laboratory,

discussions and comparisons during class hours,

visits at museums, collections and exhibitions.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of:

- production of a report on a topic developed during the course in pps format, to be sent a week before the exam date (pdf format);

- a written test: 4 multiple choice questions and 2 open answer questions;

- a discussion on the topics of the course, aimed at evaluating the theoretical knowledge of the subject, taking a specific language and acquiring an organic vision of covered topics.

The final grade is determined with the following percentages:

Written exam: 20% multiple choice questions, 50% open answer questions

Presentation.pps: 30%

The final assigned grade will be determined with the evaluation of the activity carried out during the hours of the course and the evaluation of the oral test.

Good or excellent grades can be achieved by students who demonstrate a critical knowledge of the subject, who are able to apply theoretical concepts to practical examples and make use of an appropriate language. Mostly mnemonic knowledge, limited abilities of synthesis and analysis and imprecise language lead to grades ranging from discrete to sufficient. Important gaps, inappropriate language, lack of an overview of the topics covered will inevitably lead to a barely adeguate grade or to a negative evaluation.

Teaching tools

PC, projectors, on-site visits.

Office hours

See the website of Francesca Tonini