Researching Florentine Workshop Practice
Using a broad array of spectroscopic and imaging techniques, this ambitious study of the paintings of Pacino, his workshop, and his collaborator the Master of the Dominican Effigies begins to shed light on the materials used across Pacino's expansive production and the techniques employed in his workshop.
By contributing to the foundation of technical data of material use by fourteenth-century artists, this research can provide both scholars and the public with a unique window into this important period of transition within the history of Florentine painting. To this end, the technical portion of the study is featured in the exhibition Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance: Painting and Illumination, 1300-1350 and Revealing the Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Early Florentine Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Drawing on the results of this research project, visitors to the exhibitions will be introduced to the pigments, binding media, and other materials used in Pacino's workshop, and to the tools he used to create illuminated manuscripts and panel paintings through a didactic display that examines the creation of these works of art.
The conservation implications of these materials are represented through several objects on display, including the Chiarito Tabernacle, which has experienced several color changes and the failure of some paint layers. The Tabernacle, beautiful and mesmerizing in its current condition, will be shown alongside the partial digital reconstruction developed during this research project. Visitors will be able to see the dramatic changes produced by Pacino's original material choices, and through this, to develop a keener understanding of the challenges facing the conservation of works of art, and a glimpse into how fourteenth-century Florentines would have experienced the painting.
Visitors will also be given a view into the analytical techniques and technical imaging approaches used by conservation scientists and conservators during the course of this research project. Using the electromagnetic spectrum as the connective link, examples of images and chemical analysis spectral data are illustrated, and their significance explained. This material makes clear to the visitor how scientists and conservators work together to study works of art to both enhance our understanding of these objects and inform their long-term conservation.