FLORENCE, ITALY – The tapestries exhibition (20 March – 3 June, 2012) purposes to acquaint Uffizi Gallery goers with a precious section of its collections, one whose old and noble fame has been declining due to a decades-long absence from areas open to the public. Much more than other manufactures, tapestries are works of art relentlessly consumed by time.
The exhibition presents works of sixteenth-century Flemish manufacture (from the series entitled Stories of Jacob, Festivities at the Valois Court, and Stories of Hannibal), and sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Florentine manufactures (devotional hangings from the Salviati cycle, tapestries from the series entitled Florentine Histories, Hunting Scenes, The Passion of Christ and Stories of Phaeton), and two exemplars of the type of tapestries that were hung above doors and called Portiere, bearing the Medici crests.
Several tapestries restored these past years, including Christ before Herod, realised on a cartoon by Cigoli and showing for the first time, will be presented alongside others from the same series, which attest to a different conservational situation and enable one to intuit the results of recovery through restoration.
Despite their often monumental dimensions and seemingly solid presence, tapestries are delicate manufactures. An attentive observation of the pieces selected for this occasion, for example, reveals that not infrequently the surface presents signs of damage.
The decision to exhibit specimens requiring repair alongside others that have undergone treatments also responds to a precise didactical intention: that of drawing attention to the great possibilities for physical and aesthetic recovery offered by the Florentine school of restoration, one of the world’s best.
The exhibition visitor, however, receiving a clear and concise illustration of the operational methods and restoration techniques, will acquire an awareness of the complexity of each restoration and, at the same time, will be able to assess the artistry and talent that lie behind it.