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

The restoration of the chapel of Saint Vincent has provided a chance to re-consider an altarpiece originally painted for the chapel, the Polittico Griffoni, one of the most important masterpieces of the Renaissance, painted between 1471 and 1472 by Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de’Roberti. The work was comissioned by the original patrons of the chapel, the Griffoni family, but it was removed, dismembered and sold when the chapel was transmitted to the Aldrovandi family in 1725. Nowadays the surviving 16 panels are conserved in 9 museums and foundations in different parts of the world.
Over the past two years the surface of the panels of the Polittico Griffoni have been recorded in three dimensions, thanks to Lucida, the 3D scanning system designed by artist Manuel Franquelo and built under his supervision in Factum Arte. It is the result of more than ten years of investigation into the field of high-resolution recording of the surface of paintings and relief objects. In addition to the 3D scanning the paintings were also photographically recorded at high resolution. For the high-resolution colour recording Factum Arte uses a planar system to record the small panels and a panoramic photographic system record the larger panels. Large numbers of photographs are taken and stitched together using PT Gui software. Recent developments in both hardware and software are opening up new possibilities for macro photographic recording that allows the paintings to be studied with forensic accuracy. The resulting archives are evidence that the application of technology can ensure that cultural artifacts can be documented, studied and transmitted in a faithful way.

Polittico Griffoni: one of the suggested reconstructions indicating the relative position of the different panels.

The high-resolution recording of the Polittico Griffoni is a collaboration between the Factum Foundation and the San Petronio Basilica. The 16 panels that once formed the Polittico Griffoni, one of the greatest altarpieces of the late XVth C. Bolognese school painted by Francesco del Cossa and Ercole De’Roberti, were removed from their original location in the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna and are now scattered in different museums around the world.

Factum Foundation has been carrying out high resolution recording in colour and 3D of the panels of the Polittico Griffoni. The ultimate goal is to facilitate a deep study and understanding of this extraordinary altarpiece. During the negotiations with each of the collections the stated aim is to produce a virtual reconstruction that can be provided to each of the museums holding parts of the altarpiece. In addition to this one physical reconstruction will be made that will be symbolically ‘returned’ to the Church of San Petronio and housed in the recently restored 'Griffoni’ chapel. The 3D recording is being done using the Lucida laser scanner; the colour recording is done with the Clauss panoramic system (the panoramic system has only been used on the larger panels). 

The project has no external funding and has developed organically - the order of the recording has been dependent on the places where Factum Arte is working and a host of reasons related to access and permissions. The first three panels that were recorded belong to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and are part of the collection in San Vio, Venice. 
Ercole De’Roberti’s panels of Saint George, Saint Catherine and Saint Jerome were scanned in 2012 both in 3D and color. In the same year, the two panels of the Annunciation held at the Museo di Villa Cagnola in Gazzada were recorded. This was followed by San Petronio in Ferrara. The main panel of the altarpiece, the image of San Vincente Ferrer by Francesco Cossa in the National Gallery London was recorded in August 2013 and the Predella by Ercole de’ Roberti in the Vatican Museums was recorded in October 2013. The two panels of Saint Peter and Saint John the Baptist in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan were recorded in November 2014. The agreement with the Brera is especially important as the paintings are undergoing restoration to consolidate the paint surface and address the curved nature of the poplar panels. Once this restoration process has been completed the two panels will be recorded again, making possible to monitor the changes and establish a comparison that will be of great value for historians, researchers and conservators in the future. With the scanning of the two panels in Brera, 10 out of the 16 panels have been recorded. Permission will be sought to record the 3 panels in the National Gallery Washington, the two panels in the Musée du Louvre and the panel in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam as soon as the finances have been raised.

The project was initiated by Adam Lowe, Roberto Terra and Don Oreste. Carlos Bayod has been responsible for all the 3D scanning working with Manuel Franquelo Jr and Guendalina Damone. Gregoire Dupond has carried out the color recording with Gabriel Scarpa.

The 16 panels of the Polittico Griffoni are located in the following museums and collections:

Main panels by Francesco del Cossa:
Saint Vincent Ferrer. National Gallery, London. Recorded in August 2013.
Saint Peter. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. Recorded in November 2014.
Saint John the Baptist. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. Recorded in November 2014.
Saint Florian. National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Saint Lucia. National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Crucifixion. National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Annunciation Angel. Museo di Villa Cagnola, Gazzada. Recorded in September 2012.
Annunciation Virgin. Museo di Villa Cagnola, Gazzada. Recorded in September 2012.

Predella and side panels by Ercole de' Roberti:
Stories of Saint Vincent Ferrer (predella). Pinacoteca Vaticana. Recorded in October 2013.
Saint Petronius. Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara. Recorded in October 2013.
Saint Appolonia. Musèe du Louvre, Paris.
Saint Michael Arcangel. Musèe du Louvre, Paris.
Saint Anthony the Abbot. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
Saint Jerome. Collezione Vittorio Cini, Venice. Recorded in June 2012.
Saint George. Collezione Vittorio Cini, Venice. Recorded in June 2012.
Saint Catherine. Collezione Vittorio Cini, Venice. Recorded in June 2012.

Colour data of Ercole de' Roberti's Saint George, front and back 

3D data of Ercole de' Roberti's Saint George, front and back 

3D data of the back side, detail 

3D data routed into high density board, front and back 

Colour data of Saint Jerome and Saint Catherine panels recorded in Venice in 2012

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

3D data of Annunciation Angel routed into gesso coated material 

Factum Arte's multilayer flatbed printer printing the colour data onto the relief

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

  • Screen captures from the multilayer browser: color data, 3D data, hybrid

  • Lucida 3D scanner recording the surface of Saint Vincent Ferrer at the National Gallery (London) in 2013
  • Clauss panoramic photography system recording the Polittico Griffoni's main panel

Detail of the same section of 3D and colour data

Ercole de' Roberti's Saint Petronius panel was recorded in Ferrara in 2013

Comparison between colour data and 3D data of Saint Petronius, front side 

Both sides of Ercole de' Roberti's predella were recorded in the Pinacoteca Vaticana in 2013 

Lucida 3D scanner recording the back side of the bottom panel Stories of Saint Vincent Ferrer 

  • Scanning Francesco del Cossa's Saint Peter at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, November 2014

Ercole de'Roberti's Saint Anthony the Abbot panel (23 x 11 cm) has been recorded in Rotterdam in April 2015 with the contribution of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. The 3D scanning of the front side, back side and edges was carried out with the Lucida 3D scanner. With this panel, 11 out of the 16 known panels of the Polittico Griffoni have already been recorded in 3D and color.

Ercole de'Roberti's Saint Anthony the Abbot recorded at Museum Boyman-Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, April 2015

The next panels are expected to be recorded in 2015:

Francesco del Cossa. Saint Florian. National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Francesco del Cossa. Saint Lucy. National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Francesco del Cossa. Crucifixion. National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Ercole de' Roberti. Saint Appolonia. Musèe du Louvre, Paris.
Ercole de' Roberti Saint Michael Arcangel. Musèe du Louvre, Paris.

Francesco del Cossa's The Crucifixion at National Gallery of Art, Washington

Francesco del Cossa's Saint Florian and Saint Lucy at National Gallery of Art, Washington

Saint Appolonia and Saint Michael Arcangel
Saint Appolonia
and St Michael Archangel to be recorded at Musée du Louvre, Paris

Related videos

Lucida 3D Laser Scanner


Scanning Hereford Mappa Mundi


Digital Restoration


San Petronio-Bologna


Rubens 3D and colour viewer


Share

Facebook  Twitter

© Copyright 2017
Aviso Legal. LOPD