History Blog: 15th C. Painting Conservation Video
Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
Yesterday's History Blog featured a story about the conservation of a 15th century painting by the Venetian artist Antonio Vivarini. The painting in question is today known as "Saint Monica Converts Her Dying Husband", now in the Detroit Institute of Art. The wood panel painting is one of five known to survive from the footer scenes below an altar in the Venetian Church of Santo Stefano.
Saint Monica had a fairly popular cult following in the middle ages. The saint was the mother of the future Saint Augustine. Her husband, Patricius, remained a pagan until his deathbed conversion, as depicted in the panel. Her son Augustine was a trial for Monica (which is one reason why she is described as "long suffering" in the Blog). It took her 17 years and the help of Saint Ambrose to finally end Augustine's reckless and lazy lifestyle.
Age has not been kind to the painting, and two large splits had developed as the wood base took on a pronounced dome shape. Accompanying the History Blog story of this painting is a brief professional-quality video showing how the cracks were repaired in the DIA's conservation lab.
You can enjoy the story and see the film at http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/58988 .
Wikipedia has a very short bio of Antono Vivarini at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Vivarini . Many paintings associated with this artist and his studio can be viewed at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Antonio_Vivarini . This includes "Nacinta di Sant'agostino" and the "Matrimonio di Santa Monica", two more of the surviving paintings from the Santa Monica set.
Finally, a bio of Saint Monica is found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Monica .
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