Vasari’s techinique and his painting’s condition and restoration.
Original subtitle of the video clip by Spencer Museum of Art with Japanese translation.



Giorgio Vasari’s “Christ Carrying the Cross”: Technique, Condition, & Restoration

Published on 31 Aug 2012 by SpencerArtKU

Vasari’s Christ Carrying the Cross
Technique, Condition, & Restoration


In preparation for the exhibition “Giorgio Vasari and Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy,” the Spencer Museum of Art commissioned an evaluation of Vasari’s Christ Carrying the Cross and authorized its cleaning and conservation.

Spencer Museum of Art (スペンサー美術館)は、特別展「Giorgio Vasari and Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy(イタリア後期ルネサンスのジョルジョ・ヴァザーリと宮廷文化)」の準備に当たって、ヴァザーリの「十字架を担うキリスト」の評価を委託し、洗浄と修復保存を許可した。

Scott A. Heffley, senior conservator of paintings at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, examined and cleaned the painting.

カンザスシティのネルソン=アトキンス美術館のシニア絵画修復士スコット A  へフリー氏が、この絵画を調査し洗浄した。

Vasari painted the Christ Carrying the Cross in oil on three thick, horizontal planks, probably made of poplar, that were joined together with glue.


The tree planks were further reinforced with two rectangular interior (blind) splines of wood.  These blind splines are visible in an x-ray image taken of the pairing at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in August 2011.


The x-ray also shows that a long, thin, pointed horizontal wedge of wood was inserted approximately halfway down the painting’s right side, probably to correct a flaw in the panel or strengthen a weak area.


In the middle of the back of the painting an exposed vertical batten – a narrow, projecting slat of wood with chamfered (beveled) sides – fits snugly into a channel and spans the height of the picture.


The batten, whose purpose is to stabilize the panel, in part accounts for the painting’s excellent state of preservation and the fact that it has warped very little.


Rather than lying flush with the painting’s top edge as it did originally, the batten now projects slightly from it as a result of the cross-grain shrinkage of the horizontal planks over time.


No trace of the paint and varnish drips that are evident on the top and bottom edges of the panel can be found on its long edges.


This indicates that at some point the long sides were trimmed, although the amount of material removed appears to have been negligible.


Prior to its restoration, the Christ Carrying the Cross was covered with a thick, darkened and yellowed layer of natural resin varnish that probably was added in the 19th century.


As these images of the partially cleaned panel show, the old vanish obscured Vasari’s vivid colors.


The bright pigments he used, which encompass the entire spectrum of colors available at the time, have sustained relatively little surface abrasion.


At some point in the painting’s history, areas of paint loss below the varnish were covered with a white, lead-based fill.  In the x-ray, the most significant these white areas are apparent at the bottom of Chris’s robe, at top center, and along the painting’s right side.


The same areas of paint loss also can be seen in this image, which shows the panel after cleaning but before the damaged areas were inpainted.


Inpainting is a restoration process in which the conservator duplicates the color and texture of the paint surrounding the damaged area and then applies the matching pigments to the area of loss.


The horizontal grain of the wood planks evident in the x-ray – especially at the bottom and top of the pairing – indicates that a lead-white paste was used to seal the panel and prepare it for painting.


The lead-white paste is probably the same material that was used to fill a knot at the top center of the front of the panel and to cover a blemish in the wood on the back – which is visible in the x-ray where Vasari painted the Virgin Mary’s raise arms on the far left.


An analysis of the painting with infrared reflectography -which detects carbon-black-based ink and paint or charcoal – shows that Vasari altered his composition in several places.

炭素系黒インクや絵の具または木炭を検出するInfrared Reflectography (赤外線映像法)の分析によると、ヴァザーリは複数箇所で構図を変更していることがわかる。

In the painting’s lower right corner Vasari initially depicted, but subsequently painted over, a length of rope that appears to be an extension of the one encircling Christ’s neck.


Most of Vasari’s other changes were confined to the upper right portion of the painting, Specifically, the artist repeatedly modified the contour of the first hill, substituted sky for a mountain peak in the distant background, and repositioned the cross on the left.


After the painting was examined, grime, discolored varnish, and previous retouches were removed using various surfactants and organic solvent mixtures.  A scalpel was employed, with the aid of magnification, to remove excessive old lead-white fill material.


Areas in which the paint had lifted along the right side were consolidated.  Paint losses were filled as necessary and damaged areas inpainted with permanent pigments.


A natural resin varnish containing ultraviolet-light stabilizers was  applied to protect the painting’s surface and enhance its appearance.