Studio Fenice S.n.c

Tecniche di restauro e restauro di vetrate - Bottega di arte vetraria - Bologna

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Home The restoration work An image scanning approach about the detection and recovery of lost grisaille painting
Un metodo di rilevazione e ricostruzione del dipinto a grisaglia perduto.

An approach to the detection and recovery of lost grisaille painting

Research project by Americo Corallini (Studio Fenice snc), Andrea Casini, Franco Lotti and Lorenzo Stefani – (I.F.A.C. - C.N.R. Area di Firenze ), carried out in the occasion of the restoration of the "Madonna and Child", a a small 16th-century stained glass panel, the property of DaVia-Bargellini, Bologna.

Loss of grisaille is one of the most frequent deterioration processes involving ancient glasses, especially in the Mediterranean area, due to thermal stresses over the course of the centuries (Figure 1)


As presented in the case study of the “Madonna and Child” of the Opera Pia Da Via-Bargellini in Bologna (16th-century), at times the lost paint leaves faint traces that are difficult to distinguish. These can be recovered, however, by means of an appropriate lighting and detection methodology.


Results of experimentation show that, in these particular lighting and viewing conditions, the traces appear as images that are brighter than the background (Figure 2)


Images detected by such a system can be acquired by means of different methods. Here, we present results that were obtained by using a scanning detection technique and numerical acquisition on a computer.

This technique provides for the reproduction, to a scale of 1:1, of images on transparent supports, which immediately verify the results on the glass.

Acquired data can be further integrated with the residual painting parts, so as to obtain a complete reconstruction of the plates that is free of subjective interpretation (Figures 3a, 3b, 3c).

The same data can also be used to realize doubling plates for restoration purposes.

This tool is particularly useful for the historical-artistic analysis of painted stained-glass panels. In fact, it also makes it possible for the different pictorial techniques used originally for the layout of the pigment to be delineated with clarity and improved definition of the details.

The photos that follow:

Show the tests carried out on the round panel "Madonna and Child" by Innocenzo da Imola during its restauration. This is a 16th-century stained glass window that at present is in the Medieval Civic Museum of Palazzo Ghisilardi Fava in Bologna.

The research is published on the B.I.V.I. site of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi/Italia at the following address:

Information on the stained glass window:


- An image scanning approach about the detection and recovery of lost grisaille painting applied on a XVI century stained glass panel, in "CORPUS VITREARUM NEWSLETTER", Romont, Suisse, n.° 46, giugno 1999

-Un metodo di rilevazione e di ricostruzione del dipinto a grisaglia perduto, applicato a un manufatto di arte vetraria del XV secolo, in "KERMES- Arte e tecnica del restauro", Nardini Editore, Firenze, n.° 22, gennaio-aprile 1995, pp. 3-10.

-Un suggestivo riaffiorare di immagini perdute: ricostruzione documentaria di pitture in vetrate antiche, in "Notizie - Area della Ricerca", anno IV, n.° 2 Area della Ricerca CNR Editore, Firenze 1995, pp. 5-7

-Un metodo di rilevazione e ricostruzione dei dipinti a grisaglia perduti, in "Rendiconti dell'Istituto Lombardo - Accademia di Scienze e Lettere", vol. 128, Milano, pp. 211-230

-Il recupero documentale del dipinto a grisaglia nelle vetrate antiche - Documentary recovery of grisaille painting on ancient stained glass windows in "Atti della III Conferenza internazionale sulla conservazione e il restauro", Università degli Studi, Firenze, 20-22 nov. 1997