Italian Artistic Restoration: Introduction to Painting on Canvas and on Wood

Summer and Winter Courses - Como

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Italy has an artistic and historical heritage of outstanding importance, covering a very long period of time, and which has often conditioned the art of other countries. This system of monuments, churches and museums represents a point of reference for anyone involved or interested in the world of art. Valorising and making these assets available requires the intervention of professionals who can boast a training in which the historical and artistic knowledge is balanced with technical and scientific skills as well as high operational skills.

Through the two-week summer course that Accademia di Belle Arti 'Aldo Galli' offers, you have the opportunity to learn how to give new life to paintings on canvas and on wood, according to the criteria of contemporary restoration.

  • Start date
    June 2022
  • Duration
    2 weeks
  • Attendance
  • Language

Schedule: The course of study lasts 2 weeks for a total of 60 hours. Lessons take place from Monday to Friday, part-time, both morning and afternoon.

Target: The course is designed for high school graduates, university students or professionals from other fields, who want to deepen or approach the Italian tradition of restoration of cultural heritage and wish to learn the basic notions and techniques, or experiment with new ones.

Methodology and structure 
The course, conceived as a traditional restoration workshop, is characterized by an immediate approach to practical work in the laboratory where, under the guidance of our teachers, you manually experiment with the basic techniques of restoration and conservation of paintings on canvas and on panel, intervening on artifacts provided by the school. The theoretical notions are addressed during the practical work.

Under the guidance of our expert teachers you acquire the fundamental skills to approach the analysis of the works in a correct way, the main intervention techniques linked to the Italian tradition of restoration, the tools and the appropriate scientific language. 
By the end of the course, characterized as a restoration workshop, you will have learned the basics to map out basic restoration and conservation interventions on artworks and artifacts.

Structural Restoration - The first week is dedicated to the structural problems of the paintings, such as: 1) consolidation, lining, reduction of tears and small inlays as regards the paintings on canvas; 2) panel paintings consolidation, insect infestation ( wood can be a food source or a nesting place for a variety of insects such as wood-boring beetles, termites, and grubs ), the reduction of bubbles in the pictorial film, etc.. 

Aesthetic Restoration - The second week is dedicated to the aesthetic restoration, both imitative and with chromatic selection ( through the study of the colour, the style of the work and the intervention techniques ). 
The site visits to Basilica di Sant’Abbondio, Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta (Duomo), Chiesa San Fedele, Pinacoteca Civica ( Como ), Isola Comacina, la Villa del Balbianello ( Lenno ) and Santa Tecla and San Giovanni ( Torno ) churches represents an important method of learning as well as a cultural enrichment.

Study Plan


Study of the easel paintings 
The first step consists in the in-depth study of the painting and the definition of its problems, in order to establish the necessary intervention for its restoration and future conservation. In this phase, you learn about the most common types and causes of degradation of the paintings. Then the course moves on to the protection of the pictorial film by means of glazing, an indispensable operation both on paintings on canvas and on panel. 

Supports Restoration 
The next step consists in the restoration of the supports. Lining, streep lining, suturing of cuts and abrasions, consolidation of the paint with regard to paintings on canvas using the vacuum technique; consolidation and reclamation of the wood part from insect attack and solutions for paint adhesion loss for panel paintings.

A basic knowledge of chemistry will be acquired through the cleaning phase, in order to allow you to
comprehend the criteria for choosing the solvents and their use. Given the complexity of the cleaning operations, you will act on limited parts of the painting. Once the cleaning has been completed, the missing parts are plastered with a spatula for the paintings on canvas and with a brush for those on wood. 


Hints on water and mordant gilding. The teacher will show you (on previously prepared tablets) the various phases of gilding according to the Italian Renaissance system. You will be able to use both real and fake gold. 

Notes on the theory of colors. Exhibition of colours useful for the restoration and preparation of palettes.
Painting integration
You acquire the tempera retouching method with varnish color finishing. 

Explanation of natural and synthetic paints and their use.

Remarkable is that teacher who accomplishes himself what he teaches to others.
(Italian proverb)

IED faculty are professionals that daily face the market. Here you can read their bios.

Fabio Bernabei - Course Coordinator

Fabio Bernabei - Course Coordinator
In 1977 he joined the restoration studio of paintings led by Prof. Silvio Di Volo in Florence. He opened his own studio in 1983. He works for important antique dealers, collectors and religious institutions both in Italy and abroad. He has taught at the Professional Training School of the Province of Siena. He has collaborated with the Local Health Authority for the inclusion in the labour market of people with psychological problems through art therapy. Over the years he has developed high skills in the restoration of fourteenth-century tables and then specialised in the restoration of paintings of the second Italian nineteenth century. He also created, using old techniques, some altarpieces for religious institutions.