Recording and re-materialisation of the Griffoni Polyptych

Digital technology applied to the re-unification of a scattered altarpiece

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The restoration of the chapel of Saint Vincent in the Basilica di San Petronio (Bologna) has provided scholars with a chance to re-consider an altarpiece originally painted for the chapel: the Polittico Griffoni – one of the most important masterpieces of the Renaissance. The Griffoni Polyptych is a series of sixteen tempera paintings on poplar panels painted between 1471 and 1472 by Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de’Roberti. The work was commissioned by the original patrons of the chapel, the Griffoni family, but was removed from the Basilica of Saint Petronio in Bologna, dismembered and sold when the chapel came to the Aldrovandi family in 1725. The sixteen surviving panels are displayed in nine museums and collections across Europe and North America.

From 2012 to 2015, the surface of the panels of the Polittico Griffoni have been recorded in three dimensions, with the Lucida 3D scanner. In addition to the 3D scanning, the paintings were also photographically recorded at high resolution. For the high-resolution colour recording, Factum Foundation used a planar system to record the small panels and a panoramic photographic system recorded the larger panels. A vast amount of photographs were taken and stitched together using PTGui software. Recent developments in both hardware and software are opening up new possibilities for macro photographic recording that allow the paintings to be studied with forensic accuracy. The resulting archives are evidence that the application of technology can ensure that cultural artefacts can be documented, studied and transmitted in a faithful way.

On October 1st, 2017, all sixteen of the facsimile panels were symbolically returned to San Petronio in time for the visit of the Pope, enabling a reappraisal of this important Renaissance altarpiece in the context for which it was originally produced.

[L] Hypothesis of a possible layout of the original Griffono Polyptych - [R] Hand drawing that guided the initial research on the Griffoni Polyptych from Bologna University

 

One of the suggested reconstructions of the Griffoni Polyptych indicating the relative position of the different panels

One of the suggested reconstructions of the Griffoni Polyptych indicating the relative position of the different panels.
Hover over the image to see the location of the original panel.

 

The animation shows the recording of Francesco del Cossa's Saint Vincent Ferrer central panel, as well as a tour within the multi-layered browser showing the colour data onto the relief

 

Recording

Factum Foundation photographed and scanned all known panels of the Griffoni Polyptych. The work of Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de' Roberti was recorded over the course of three years in the following institutions:

Palazzo Cini, Venice (June 2012) Saint George; Saint Catherine; Saint Jerome

Top: Ercole de’Roberti, Saint George, c. 1472, 26.3 x 9.3 cm, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, front and back; Bottom: 3D renders generated by Lucida, front and back © Factum Foundation

Cagnola Art Collection, Gazzada (September 2012) Annunciation Angel; Annunciation Virgin

Lucida 3D scanner recording the surface of Francesco del Cossa's Annunciation Angel and Annunciation Virgin at the Museo di Villa Cagnola (Gazzada) in 2012 © Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

3D data of Francesco del Cossa, Annunciation Angel, c. 1472, diam. 25 cm, routed into gesso coated material © Factum Foundation

 

National Gallery, London (August 2013) Saint Vincent Ferrer

Panoramic photography system recording the Polittico Griffoni's main panel © Factum Foundation

Lucida 3D scanner recording the surface of Saint Vincent Ferrer at the National Gallery (London) in2013 © Factum Foundation

Lucida 3D scanner recording the surface of Saint Vincent Ferrer at the National Gallery (London) in2013 © Factum Foundation

 

Vatican Museum, Rome (October 2013) The Miracles of Saint Vincent Ferrer (Predella)

 

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

Ercole de’Roberti, Stories of Saint Vincent Ferrer, c. 1473 © Factum Foundation

3D render of the panel generated by Lucida © Factum Foundation

3D render of the panel’s back. The modulation corresponds to the pattern of horizontal cracks visible in the front side © Factum Foundation

 

Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara (October 2013) Saint Petronius

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

[L] Colour data of Ercole de’Roberti's Saint Petronius, c. 1472, 26.3 x 9.3 cm, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara © Factum Foundation - [R] 3D render of Saint Petronius © Factum Foundation

 

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan (November 2014) Saint Peter; Saint John the Baptist

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (April 2015) Saint Anthony the Abbot

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

National Gallery of Art, Washington (September 2015) Saint Florian; Saint Lucy; Crucifixion

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

Louvre Museum, Paris (October 2015) Saint Appolonia; Saint Michael Archangel

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

© Factum Foundation

 

The photographs were combined with the scanned data, producing a digital reconstruction for museums to continue studying this masterpiece of the Ferrarese School. The video below describes the scanning process and shows the images obtained.

 

Multi-layer browser

Concurrently to the scanning and production of the facsimile, Factum Foundation has developed a digital viewer that enables the visualisation of the scanned relief and colour data of the panels at an extremely high resolution, allowing the inspection of every single detail of the paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-materialisation

The high-resolution images were used to create the facsimile of the Griffoni Polyptych. The information about the relief, cracks and marks of the surface obtained with the Lucida 3D Scanner was printed at Océ studios, a Canon Company specializing in elevated printing in resin. A silicone mould transferred the Océ printed information onto a primed, linen support. This allowed creating a facsimile that reproduced the relief and the colour of each panel.

Océ printed the reliefs information obtained with the Lucida 3D Scanner using an elevanted printing method © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

Silicone moulds were made of the Océ reliefs © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

Rafa Rachewsky prepared skins on which to print the colour information © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

The colour information was printed on this primed support using Factum Arte´s flatbed printer. Many tests were carried out to ensure the exact match with the original. Colour sticks created during the recording phases were used to compare with the prints. 

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

Color sticks obtained while recording the orignal provide key information for colour adjustments © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

Matching colour information of the original with the print © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

Printing the colour information of the predella © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smit for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

The colour information of all panels © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

The prints aligned to their corresponding reliefs © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Eduardo Lopez for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

Finally, some of the panels were hand gilt by Factum Arte´s restorer Eva Segovia. A special structure to hang the panels was also constructed for this project.

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Eduardo Lopez for Factum Foundation

© Eduardo Lopez for Factum Foundation

© Eduardo Lopez for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

© Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation

 

Installation

All sixteen panels were installed in the Chapel of St. Vincent Ferrer in the Basilica of San Petronio on October 1st, 2017.

Rafa Rachewsky installing the facsimile of the Polittico Griffoni altarpiece in the Basilica of San Petronio, Bologna. October 2017 © Factum Foundation

Rafa Rachewsky installing the facsimile of the Polittico Griffoni altarpiece in the Basilica of San Petronio, Bologna. October 2017 © Factum Foundation

Rafa Rachewsky installing the facsimile of the Polittico Griffoni altarpiece in the Basilica of San Petronio, Bologna. October 2017 © Factum Foundation

Rafa Rachewsky installing the facsimile of the Polittico Griffoni altarpiece in the Basilica of San Petronio, Bologna. October 2017 © Factum Foundation

Facsimile of the Polittico Griffoni altarpiece mounted on a provisionary display in the Basilica of San Petronio, Bologna

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