ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA 2021. Florence, the bacterium that cleaned up Michelangelo’s Medici Chapels [= Firenze, il batterio che ha ripulito le Cappelle Medici di Michelangelo]. Time News (21/06/2021). Foto: dettofumetto / Instragram (27/07/2021).
Florence, Italy – We were still in semi lockdown, it was the end of June last year. We entered the Medici Chapels with a mask and temperature measurement to see how the restoration of Michelangelo’s Tombs was proceeding. We were accompanied by Daniela Manna and Marina Vincenti, the restorers, Monica Bietti responsible and director of the restoration, Paola D’Agostino at the helm of the Bargello Museums. And they told us the history of the works and their multiple modifications, either for the time, or for other restoration interventions. Among the many news they explained to us perhaps the most fascinating thing: in the tomb of Lorenzo Duke of Urbino, shortly thereafter, they would have removed the traces of time with the help of a bacterium isolated from Enea. An organic agent necessary since it was a question of eliminating organic traces precisely. Duke Alessandro de ‘Medici was buried there in 1537, whose remains were never eviscerated. Those spots were none other than the moods of the late nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
To a careful eye – and lucky to have observed them closely by mounting on scaffolding – the Medici tombs of Michelangelo, in the New Sacristy of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, tell a story of centuries. At least five, as many as have passed since Pope Leo X asked the artist to design the monumental burials for his relatives, Lorenzo Duke of Urbino and Giuliano Duke of Nemours. Stains, graphic signs, traces of color and organic compounds, which have been removed with the help of demineralized water, laser beams and bacteria produced by Enea, speak to us thanks to the mediation of three women who have completed a ten-year restoration.
These are Daniela Manna and Marina Vincenti, who work materially on the recovery, and Monica Bietti, responsible and director of the restoration, to which is added another, Paola D’Agostino at the helm of the Bargello Museums. Three vestals of one of the cornerstones of Western figurative culture. But first a little history: it is 1519 when Pope Leo X, (son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and Clarice Orsini baptized with the name of Giovanni) abandoned the idea of completing the facade of the basilica of San Lorenzo and asked Michelangelo to design a new family chapel for the tombs of Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino and of Giuliano, Duke of Nemours.
he first, which we find to the left of the entrance to the New Sacristy with the two statues symbolizing theAtrora and the Dusk at the feet of the deceased; the second where the allegories of the Day and of Night. On the death of Leo X, his cousin Cardinal Giulio de ‘Medici, future Pope Clement VII, confirmed the assignment to Michelangelo, who had also built the Madonna with Child overlooking the tomb of the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano. In 1527 the project underwent a first slowdown due to the sack of Rome and the removal of Michelangelo during the siege of Florence (1529) who, with the return of Alessandro dei Medici to power, feared death. Buonarroti’s commitment in San Lorenzo will last until 1534 when he will leave Florence to return there only when he is dead, in 1564. «In 1534 – explains Monica Bietti – the artist had completed the seven statues, but had left them on the ground. The stalemate will last until 1545 when Tribolo will be asked to place them where we see them today ». What happened shortly after, and over the centuries, is known from documentary sources and from the studies conducted during the restoration. «In 1563 – continues Monica Bietti – the Academy of Drawing Arts was founded in Florence, at the behest of Cosimo I and on the advice of Giorgio Vasari. Vasari says that there were no windows in the Sacristy and that the priests lit the fire to heat it, regardless of the fact that the smoke would blacken the sculptures. But that’s not the only thing that happened ».
«The Academicians or in any case those who over the centuries made the casts of the statues – explains Marina Vincenti – have left graphic signs on Michelangelo’s statues. In the eyes of the Night, thanks to infrared and ultraviolet photographic investigations, we found a sort of eyeliner, a dark stripe postponed. Their exercises, carried out in sanguine and pencil, could also be seen with the naked eye on the Dusk and on Aurora, especially in correspondence with the folds of the bodies “. As well as other darker spots, here and there on all the bodies of the statues.
We then intervened on the sarcophagus of Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, altered by darker colored spots. “In this case we are in the presence of oxalates and organic materials, removed with the help of a bacterium isolated from Enea and reproduced in the laboratory capable of” eating “the deposit which is darker in color”. In this regard, Monica Bietti explains: «When Duke Alessandro de ‘Medici was killed in 1537, his remains were placed in the same sarcophagus of the Duke of Urbino. But, unlike the treatment reserved for the other deceased in the Sacristy, his body, not subjected to evisceration and embalming, over time returned some liquids filtered to the outside in correspondence with these spots ».
Fonte / source:
— Time News (21/06/2021).
Fonte / source, foto:
— ROMA – “PULIZIE PRE VACANZE. Michelangelo, Aurora. Firenze, Sagrestia Nuova in San Lorenzo.” dettofumetto / Instragram (27/07/2021). https://www.instagram.com/p/CR1eyvFMQ3i/
— ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA 2021. “Send in the Bugs. The Michelangelos Need Cleaning” [= Laboratori Enea i batteri ‘restauratori’ per riparare dipinti, affreschi e statue], NYT (31 May, 2021): C1. S.v., “Roma, Casina Farnese sul Palatino,” in: ADNKRONOS / ARTE (10/04/2015). https://wp.me/pbMWvy-1vZ