Restoration atelier in Florence

Art rescue in progress

with conservator Elizabeth Wicks

Art Rescue in Progress invitation.jpeg

See where art is saved... Conservator Elizabeth Wicks discusses what it takes to heal eighteenth-century paintings, as we interact with her art rescue mission: two large scale canvases from the ancient hospital of San Giovanni di Dio in Florence, by once-acclaimed women artist, Violante Ferroni, who worked in Florence some 100 years after Artemisia.

 

"When we first started this project, we called it the Art of Healing* because these paintings were commissioned by a hospital in the Ognissanti district and hang in the monumental atrium… To have such a large, prestigious commission attests to the fact that Violante Ferroni must have had a very good, solid reputation at the time. During lockdown, we were actually doing the filming of the restoration ourselves because the filmmaker couldn’t come and we were able to continue work on the paintings …It was healing for me," says Wicks, "as I was taking care of the paintings, so the ‘art of healing’ was not only the art that is healing itself, us healing the art, but we were also, I felt, healed by the art and the act of caring for it.

 

The cleaning process revealed the stunning colors that Violante used and it was really very dramatic to see them coming out, as we gradually removed first the dirt layer and then the discoloured varnish layers. Restoration enables you to understand an artist. If you are timid as a painter, you tend to paint much tighter and she is painting loosely, she is painting in bold strokes. She is painting fast!"

This event was sponsored by AWA and organised in conjunction with The Florentine.

*The paintings featured in this broadcast were restored by Advancing Women Artists, Robert Lehman Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ‘The Mud Angels meet the Art Angels’ with Florida State University in Florence and Lion’s Fountain, Rauch Foundation.

Elizabeth Wicks with Violante Ferroni's painting
Elizabeth Wicks with Violante Ferroni's painting

Conservator Elizabeth Wicks with Saint John of God heals plague victims by Violante Ferroni photo: Ottaviano Caruso, 2020

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Elizabeth Wicks performing cleaning
Elizabeth Wicks performing cleaning

Saint John of God heals plague victims by Violante Ferroni photo: Ottaviano Caruso, 2020

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Cleaning the queen's face?
Cleaning the queen's face?

Saint John of God heals plague victims by Violante Ferroni photo: E. Wicks and M. Vincenti, 2019

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A blessed cleaning
A blessed cleaning

Saint John of God heals plague victims by Violante Ferroni photo: E. Wicks and M. Vincenti, 2019

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New women emerge
New women emerge

Saint John of God heals plague victims by Violante Ferroni photo: E. Wicks and M. Vincenti, 2019

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Friars feed the poor
Friars feed the poor

Saint John of God gives bread to the poor by Violante Ferroni photo: Francesco Cacchiani, 2021

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Post consolidation
Post consolidation

Saint John of God heals plague victims by Violante Ferroni photo: Ottaviano Caruso, 2020

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Making progress in the studio
Making progress in the studio

Saint John of God heals plague victims by Violante Ferroni photo: Ottaviano Caruso, 2020

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Painstaking cleaning process
Painstaking cleaning process

Violante Ferroni’s Saint John of God gives bread to the poor photo: Francesco Cacchiani

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