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San Gemini Preservation Studies 2019
Traditional Painting: Materials, Techniques, and Issues in Conservation
#SG208A (2 units)
Session 2 (July 8 – August 2) 4 weeks
Course #: SG 208A  preliminary syllabus
Instructor: Prof. Nikolas Vakalis
E-mail: nikosvakalis@libero.it



This course gives an in-depth understanding of traditional painting materials and techniques commonly used in Italy from the Classical Antiquity, to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Since this course is aimed primarily at people planning to study art conservation, the course also explores factors that hasten deterioration of the materials and the different approaches to their restoration.

Four visiting lecturers will present various topics of interest to painted artifacts and restoration case studies (frescoes, panel paintings, canvas paintings)

This course could be of interest to students of fine arts, art restoration, painting, art history, art management and museum studies.



Part 1. Traditional Methods and Materials in Painting
• Supports

o Masonry
o Wood
o Canvas

• Paint

o Pigments (organic and inorganic)

¤ Natural
¤ Artificial

o Binders

• Varnishes and Glazes
• Fresco painting

o Materials

¤ Gypsum
¤ Lime
¤ Lime cycle and chemistry
– Calcination
– Carbonation
– Slaking and seasoning
¤ Aggregates (natural and artificial, inert and hydraulic)
– Sands
– Marble dust
– Pozzolana
– Brick dust

o Materials

¤ Arriccio
¤ Intonachino
¤ Pictorial layer

• Fresco tradition

o Ancient Roman

¤ Pontata
¤ Polishing

o Byzantine
o Renaissance

¤ Giornata

• Sgraffito
• Painting on wood board using 14th century methods

o Board structure
o Board preparation
o Incamottatura
o Gesso rendering
o Pigments and tempera binding

• Gilding

o Gouache gilding method (bolo)
o Burnishing
o Mordant gilding method

• Oil painting on canvas

o Stretchers
o Canvas
o Filler
o Ground
o Pigments and oil binders
o Varnishes

Part 2. Deterioration
• Causes of deterioration

o Natural agents of decay
o Anthropic causes of decay

• Approaches to restoration

o Cleaning
o Consolidation
o Treatment of lacunae


Four weeks from Monday to Friday. Morning: 1,5-hour lectures, afternoon: 4-hour workshop sessions.

Workshop projects, assigned reading

Cenino Cenini, The Craftsman’s Handbook.

Courses SG208A (theory) and SG208B (workshop) must be taken together.

Gallery – Traditional Painting Workshop

San Gemini Preservation Studies
International Institute for Restoration and Preservation Studies

203 Seventh Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA
tel. 718 768 3508