The Restoration of ‘The Battle of Pharsalus’, a cassone panel, by Apollonio di Giovanni (c.1403-1489)
‘The Battle of Pharsalus’ cassone panel, tempera, gold and silver on panel, 16 x 61 ⅞ inches (40.5 x 157.2 cm).
The treatment involved retouching to correct areas of wear and unresolved old restoration, in order to improve the readability of the scene. External structural work was commissioned to remove an old cradle that was holding the panel under considerable tension. This restoration was carried out on behalf of a private collector.
Notes on Condition (before treatment)
The cassone had a pine cradle attached, which was holding the panel under considerable tension, causing a number of fractures to open. The paint and ground layers were structurally in good condition, and had not been affected by the fractures. There were scattered minor losses across the surface, and whilst the existing retouching was generally sympathetic to the work, several areas of wear had not been fully resolved in this previous campaign.
Treatment Carried Out
Following the Studio’s recommended treatment, the panel was first surface cleaned to remove a light coating of dirt and dust from both the face and the reverse. The painting was then sent out to a structural conservator to have the old cradle removed and to repair the fractures.
Once returned to the Studio, all areas of loss from paint and ground were filled and textured to match the surface of the paint. The existing varnish layers and restoration were left in place, since the varnish was not discoloured and the restoration was sympathetic. Further retouching was then carried out, including to areas of loss and abrasion, in order to correct areas of unresolved old restoration and improve the readability of the overall scene. The painting was locally varnished to integrate this retouching and to even out the surface gloss.
A new reproduction frame was commissioned to better suit the painting, and in-depth art historical research was carried out in the Studio.