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Enrico Fermi Lecture: Molecular Sciences and Cultural Heritage

Event Details:

  • Date:       Thusday 27 September 2018
  • Time:      18:00 - 20:00
  • Venue:    The Cyprus Institute – Novel Technologies Laboratory, Events Room, Athalassa Campus
  • Speaker: Prof. Antonio Sgamellotti, Università di Perugia, Accademia dei Lincei, CNR-ISTM, INFN-CHNet

* The event will be in English, the event is open to the public, light refreshments will be served during the reception after the talk.



Molecular Sciences provide powerful tools to solve many problems in art-historical studies and may be used to suggest appropriate procedures for conservation and restoration.
MOLAB is composed by a unique array of portable equipments offered to scientific community for in-situ non-invasive measuraments through transnational access in the Europea projects Eu-ARTECH, CHARISMA, IPERION CH.
The multi-technique apprach by MOLAB has been adopted for investgations on different typologies of artifacts.

i)   PAINTINGS by ancient Masters ( Perugino, Raffaello) and by modern Artists (Piet Mondrian, Alberto Burri)
- The Renaissance Artists Perugino and Raffaello, besides using traditional pigments of the sixteenth century, also experimented with metal powders, such as bismuth or bronze, or minerals with metallic lustre, or even powders of transparent uncoloured glass, in the effort to reach more sophisticated chromatic effects.
- The study of Victory Boogie Woogie (1942-1944, Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag) allowed for the identification of the pigments used by Mondrian in his last unfinished masterpiece and allowed for considerations of the building of the painting's construction, revealing earlier phases of the composition.
- The investigations of twenty paintings by Burri (Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello, Perugia) allowed for the characterization of the execution techniques and materials used by the artist for the series cretti, cellotex, catrami, gobbi, in the period 1948-1976.

ii)   SCULPTURES by ancient (Michelangelo) and modern Artists (Gino De Dominicis)
- An extensive study on the state of conservation of Michelangelo's David has been recently carried on, using several techniques -from digital to spectroscopic and chemical ones- in the framework of a planned mantainance programme.
- Gino De Domenicis monumental sculpture, Calamita Cosmica (1988), 24x13x7 m3, was investigated by employing a combination of non-invasive and micro-invasive techniques.
- The sculpture was found to be comprised of a polyester core, to which five subsequent layers of varying composition has been added.

iii)   MANUSCRIPTS (Mexican pre-Columbian codices)
- The MOLAB facility allowed in situ the molecular and elemental characterization of coloured materials belonging to Mesoamerican codices, offering to scholars a wide database of valuable analytical data to deepen the knowledge concerning the complexities of Mesoamerican manuscripts' painting tradition.

iv)   CERAMICS (Renaissance lustre)
- The peculiar optical properties of Renaissance lustre are due to a high-density distribution of copper and silver nanoclusters within the first layers of the glaze. It is the presence of these nanoparticles that confers to the lustre its peculiar chromatic properties: brilliant metallic reflections, iridescence and changing effects. Therefore, the preparation of lustre may be considered an example of nanothecnology in the Renaissance time.


About the Speaker

a sgamellottiAntonio Sgamelloti is Professor Emeritus at the University of Perugia and a member of the prestigious Accademia dei Lincei. Throughout his career, he has specialized in the study of the properties of molecules, applying his knowledge to materials of archaeological and historical interest.

Prof. Sgamellotti's visit is hosted by the Andreas Pittas Art Characterization Laboratories of the Cyprus Institute.


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With the support of the Embassy of Italy in Cyprus, as part of the Enrico Fermi Lecture Series

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Additional Info

  • Date: Thusday 27 September 2018
  • Time: Starts 18:00
  • Speaker: Prof. Antonio Sgamellotti
  • Speaker Position: Università di Perugia, Accademia dei Lincei, CNR-ISTM, INFN-CHNet