The portraits of Michelangelo
The Bronze Effigy of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Florence
15 February - 31 July, 2022
The 3D printed busts in Factum's workshop © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation
Daniele da Volterra, a close collaborator and friend of Michelangelo, inherited the house of the artist in Rome after his death. In two years, he produced a number of bronze casts of the Renaissance master, which are often thought to have derived from Michelangelo’s deathmask.
The exhibition 'The Bronze Effigy of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra' (15 February - 31 July, 2022), curated by Cecilie Hollberg at the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Florence, reunites for the first time nine bronze busts from various collections around the world. Direct comparison has revealed both similarities and differences, and much debate still surrounds the 'genealogy' between the different casts: it is hoped that the exhibition will focus the debate and produce some informed responses.
Each of the busts was recorded by Factum Foundation’s experts using strictly non-contact technologies: a structured white light scanner (Breuckmann Smartscan3D-HE) and photogrammetry. The use of both techniques, even on shiny surfaces such as bronze, is capable of obtaining an extremely accurate relief of the surfaces once the two sets of data have been combined into a 3D model using specialised software.
The first busts to be digitised were those in Florence (Gallerie dell'Accademia, Casa Buonarroti and Museo del Bargello), followed by those in the collections of the Museo della Città "Luigi Tonini" in Rimini, the Castello Sforzesco in Milan and the Musei Capitolini in Rome; the team then worked on the busts in the Musée Jacquemart-André and the Louvre in Paris, finishing with the one in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Coordination and collaboration with the respective institutions enabled the work to be completed in just over two weeks. In January 2022, the bust inside the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne was also added to the recordings.
Pedro Miró recording the bust inside the Museo Nazionale del Bargello © Ferdinand Saumarez Smith for Factum Foundation
The structured white light scanner records the shapes in real time © Ferdinand Saumarez Smith for Factum Foundation
Close-range photogrammetry was used to capture the details © Ferdinand Saumarez Smith for Factum Foundation
During several months of work with Cecilie Hollberg (Gallerie dell'Accademia) and Mario Micheli (Università Roma 3) in the studios of Factum Foundation in Madrid, the busts were digitally "mapped" in their key points and correspondences, overlaid and compared in a unique research work that combined for the first time digital expertise with academic rigour to help identify the original busts in Daniele da Volterra's studio, and the “genealogy” of the other variants.
The high-resolution 3D models were then printed at 1/3 of the original and life-size, to allow for comparisons prior to viewing the original busts inside the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Both 3D printed versions, together with the digital data, are on display in the exhibition. In addition, 3D models can also serve as a valuable 'snapshot' of the surface conservation condition of the work, and the digital data remains property of the respective institutions for all uses – in line with Factum Foundation’s core missions.
After mapping the focal points, each bust was aligned according to a common imaginary line © Factum Foundation
The alignment line was manually found in Factum's workshop © Teresa Casado for Factum Foundation
The possible genealogy of the busts according to Adam Lowe © Factum Foundation
Adam Lowe and Voula Paraskevi Natsi were invited to participate to the research day preceding the publication of the exhibition catalogue.