Fabio Mazzocchini & Angelica Pediconi restore works of art in particular paintings in different mediums (oil, tempera) and support (canvas, wood, copper, pewter...). Their aim is to bring back to life their original colour and brightness and to preserve them for future generations.
This profession is very complex. It includes several operations organised around two main areas:
a) Conservation which involves structural work such as aligning and joining panels or relining slashed canvasses.
b) Restoration which includes cleaning, filling and retouching of the painted surface. When a new painting comes to the studio (like a patient to the doctor) it undergoes accurate investigation and analysis to establish the right diagnose and the method of intervention.
Woodwork on a panel is a challenge as well. It requires skill and a machinery called ‘gluing gig’ which Fabio designed and built.
Cleaning is very challenging as it is a non reversible operation. Through an attentive analysis of the different layers of dirt and yellowed varnish Fabio and Angelica have to make sure that they don’t remove the original. Every painting has its own history according to different age, colours, medium, support and condition and it is a restorer’s task to keep everything in balance. Timeframe varies according to size and condition, even though working on a small painting with a microscope may require a very long time.
Restoring historical paintings involves quite a bit of a detective role as when, often to Fabio and Angelica’s surprise, they discover under-drawings or ‘pentimenti’ subsequently covered by the artist in the final version. Sometimes the original subject has been covered by later interventions if for example considered socially or culturally not proper and has been refashioned according to new styles and new owners’ needs. The job is often to recompose a dazzling puzzle...
The painting featured here is the portrait of Anne of Denmark, attributed to Mathias van Somer (1576-1621). Anne was the cultured and extravagant wife of James I, portrayed here wearing neck pearls which had belonged to Elizabeth I. The portrait may have been painted in about 1605, because in or before 1609 the Queen gave up the piled-up hair style with pearls which were revealed during the restoration process.
Fabio started his successful career almost thirty years ago restoring frescoes and large ceiling canvasses in churches and historical buildings across Italy, before moving to London to set up his restoration studio specialised in Old Masters. Angelica was trained as a painter restorer and art historian in Rome prior to moving to London where she received a Master’s Degree at the Royal College of Art. Since then she worked as an art historian and joined Fabio’s studio two years ago.
Clients include private and public institutions, The Atheneum, The Oxford and Cambridge Institute, The RAC, The National Gallery in London, art dealers and private collectors.