Recording and Re-materializing the Griffoni Polyptych

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

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The Griffoni Polyptych is an altarpiece dedicated to Saint Vincent Ferrer painted between 1471 and 1472 by Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de’ Roberti. The altarpiece was originally located in the family chapel of the merchant Floriano Griffoni inside the Basilica of Saint Petronio in Bologna but the panels were sold after the chapel was transferred to the Aldrovandi family in 1725.

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.


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:

Panels by Francesco del Cossa
Cagnola Art Collection, Gazzada (September 2012) Annunciation Angel; Annunciation Virgin
National Gallery, London (August 2013) Saint Vincent Ferrer
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan (November 2014) Saint Peter; Saint John the Baptist.
National Gallery of Art, Washington (September 2015) Saint Florian; Saint Lucy; Crucifixion

Predella and side panels by Ercole de' Roberti:
Palazzo Cini, Venice (June 2012) Saint George; Saint Catherine; Saint Jerome
Vatican Museum, Rome (October 2013) The Miracles of Saint Vincent Ferrer (Predella)
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Ferrara (October 2013) Saint Petronius
Louvre Museum, Paris (October 2015) Saint Appolonia; Saint Michael Archangel
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (April 2015) Saint Anthony the Abbot

The sixteen identified panels of the Polyptych were recorded in nine museums over the course of three years. The colour of each panel was photographed at high-resolution using panoramic photography and their reliefs were scanned with the Lucida 3D Scanner, a system specially designed for that task.

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

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

3D data of Annunciation Angel routed into gesso coated material

Clauss panoramic photography system recording the Polittico Griffoni's main panel

1/3 Lucida 3D scanner recording the surface of Saint Vincent Ferrer at the National Gallery (London) in 2013

Detail of the same section of 3D and colour data

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

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.

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


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

Silicone moulds were made of the Océ reliefs

Rafa Rachewsky prepared skins on which to print the colour information


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. 


Color sticks obtained while recording the orignal provide key information for colour adjustments

Matching colour information of the original with the print

Printing the colour information of the predella

The colour information of all panels

The prints aligned to their corresponding reliefs



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.

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

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