(freelance restorer, Rome, Italy)

Keywords: Virtual restoration, new technologies, photo retouching, non-invasive interventions

The aim of the research presented is to investigate the opportunity of replacing, where possible, the restoration of a work of art by means of virtual intervention. This for a number of reasons: to virtually re-integrate missing areas in a work of art on the basis of proper historical and diagnostic examinations; to avoid tampering with original parts –something that inevitably occurs during an actual restoration; and to limit the number of works which are restored not for conservation purposes, but mainly for aesthetical upgrade. More specifically, this research proposes a method for virtually reintegrating the figurative text of works of arts, where readability is damaged due to the presence of numerous or extensive areas of loss. The method has been developed taking as case study two panel paintings of the XIV century, sited in the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche (Urbino): the Madonna dell’Umiltà, attributed to “Maestro dell’incoronazione di Bellpuig” and the Annunciazione by Olivuccio di Ceccarello. Both representations have been considerably damaged during their conservative history and have incurred extensive loss of authentic pictorial film, even in key sectors, such as characters’ anatomical details. These areas of loss have been filled with neutral colors during restoration interventions carried out around 1970, since judged as not interpretable, according to criteria set by Italian Theory of Restoration. Starting with a high-resolution photograph of mentioned paintings, it has been proposed to redefine the missing form and color with AutoCAD and Photoshop, so as to render the paintings virtually intact. In order to recreate the drawing, the research compares graphic surveys taken from other works of the same artist. Peculiarity of Medieval artistic production, indeed, is the use of silhouettes, reproducing standardised shapes. Moreover, part of this research focuses on the theme of virtual cleaning.