The restoration of Artemisia Gentileschi’s Inclination in Casa Buonarroti

At the end of September 2022, preliminary operations began for the restoration of Artemisia Gentileschi’s famous canvas, the Inclination, painted in 1616, commissioned by Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger for the ‘Gallery’ of the family palazzo in Via Ghibellina in Florence. The room on the piano nobile, the first of the sumptuous apparatus celebrating the great ancestor, the Buonarroti family and Florentine glories, is dedicated to the glorification of Michelangelo through the narration of salient episodes of his long life and through personifications of the virtues he embodied.
The Inclination, which represented Michelangelo’s natural predisposition towards artistic creation, was painted by Artemisia as a nude female figure lying on clouds and holding a compass. Around 1680, a descendant of Michelangelo the Younger, probably his nephew Leonardo Buonarroti, commissioned Baldassarre Franceschini, known as Volterrano, to paint a blue drape and veils that would conceal the nudity of the Inclination, making it more suitable to an idea of decorum suggested by a stricter morality.
Thanks to the “Artemisia Svelata / Artemisia Unveiled” project, which can count on the support of the English non-profit organisation Calliope Arts and the collector and philanthropist Christian Levett, diagnostic investigations will be carried out on the painting using the most advanced imaging techniques for restoration (diffuse and grazing light examination UV and infrared investigation; multispectral hypercolour imaging; X-ray and high-resolution reflectography), which will not only allow the acquisition of the technical and material information that will then guide the intervention on the painting, but also to virtually restore the original appearance of the Artemisia painting.
The restoration operations will take place in Casa Buonarroti from October 2022 to April 2023, during the Museum’s opening hours, in the Room of the Model for the façade of San Lorenzo: visitors will thus be able to observe the progress of the work and – every Friday – they will be able to dialogue with the restorer who will answer questions from the public.
At the end of the operations, the results of the investigation and restoration will be made public through the organisation of an exhibition in Casa Buonarroti, scheduled from September 2023 to January 2024.
The project “Artemisia Svelata / Artemisia Unveiled”, goes beyond the restoration of the painting and the organisation of the exhibition on the Inclination: thanks to Calliope Arts and Christian Levett, a number of permanent museographic interventions will be carried out, concerning the museum’s reception area, the signage along the exhibition route and above all the ‘Gallery’, which will be equipped with a new lighting system.
The project brings together restoration experts, technicians, photographers and filmmakers to collect, analyse, document and share the results. Some of the project partners are: the National Research Council (CNR) and the National Institute of Optics (INO), Teobaldo Pasquali for X-rays, Ottaviano Caruso for diagnostic photography, Olga Makarowa for videos and reportage photography; Media partners: The Florentine and Restoration Conversations.
Responsible for the intervention is restorer Elizabeth Wicks, coordinator of the working group formed by expert technicians and restoration experts, under the supervision of the Director of Casa Buonarroti, Alessandro Cecchi, and Jennifer Celani, official of the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the metropolitan city of Florence and the provinces of Pistoia and Prato.