The long and complex restoration of the wallpaper from the Battle of Roncesvalles has been completed

The complex seven-year restoration of the tapestry depicting the Battle of Roncesvalles, preserved in the Bargello National Museum, has been completed.

That restoration of the big ones 16th century tapestry depicts The Battle of Roncesvallespreserved at Bargello National Museum and restored byOpecio delle Pietre Dure.

It is a giant fragment of tapestry (almost 4 meters high and 5 meters wide) woven by one production in the French-Flemish areaprobably active in Tournai, in present-day Belgium, comes from Carrand collection. The work was made in the late fifteenth century and depicts the initial phase of the Roncesvalles clash between Christians and Saracens told in the epic poem la Chanson de Rolandwith an intertwining of horses and riders.

The wallpaper, made for the most part in wool and silk (the latter used in small quantities to highlight the bright spots in faces, armor and horses), it was in a poor state of preservation due to dirt, cuts, rips and above all the large holes in the textile structure. The apparent completeness was actually offered by a rigid canvas, which applied to the back had been painted in accordance with the spaces. The long and complex intervention made it possible to take advantage of the long experience that was performed on lacunae treatment during almost forty years of activity The tapestry and carpet sector of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure: it was in fact a technical and methodological challenge that allowed for extensive research and unpublished insights.

“I am deeply grateful to Superintendent Marco Ciatti and all colleagues from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, who took turns in the delicate restoration of this admirable tapestry from the Carrand Collection and donated it to the National Museum of Bargello in the late nineteenth century,” she declared. Paola D’Agostino, director of the Bargello Museums. “The restoration of textile artifacts is among the most delicate, and this demanding restoration confirms the excellence that Opificio also maintains in this sector. I would also like to thank Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi, who was director of Bargello in 2013 when she decided to start the restoration of the work, and Ilaria Ciseri, who followed the phases of this long and important work with her usual careful care “.

“The Opificio delle Pietre Dure continues its historic collaboration with the Bargello National Museum and its masterpieces, even in a restoration sector such as that of tapestries so little practiced in Italy,” he said. Marco Ciatti, Superintendent of Opificio delle Pietre Dure. “Opificio delle Pietre Dure has always dedicated a similar attention and a homogeneous methodological approach to the preservation of any artistic typology, in accordance with the principle of unity of methodology clearly established by Umberto Baldini. I am proud of the excellent result achieved of the restaurateurs and officials from OPD, who took turns in this project ”.

“This is the second large tapestry fragment preserved in Bargello, which Opificio is reviving,” he added. Ilaria Cisericurator of the Bargello National Museum’s collections, “and it is always a great feeling to be able to follow the complexity of such interventions and the very high specialization of these restorers”.

The restoration primarily involved the removal of the support and the repair, which created deformations and tensions in the textile structure. At the same time, an initial cleaning was performed through a capillary macro-aspiration of the dirt on the entire surface, which browned the tones and made the fibers dry and dried out. After completely sewing the work on a rigid mesh support to stabilize the spaces and after verifying the stability of the original dyes, the cleaning was performed by immersion in water according to a procedure developed by Opificio, thanks to the opera has regained hydration and chromatic liveliness. Of all the phases of the restoration, the consolidation was the most complex phase and required a great deal of effort: the holes were recovered through a further consolidation carried out by reinserting warp threads and shoots where missing. By doing so, it was possible to restore the mechanical seal to the fabric, allowing the aesthetic restoration of the reintegrated areas.

Particular emphasis was placed on consolidation of the outermost regions, whose advanced degradation involved loss of material: the shoots were self-consolidated and a large self-edging support was applied, manually woven on a tissue which required special precautions due to its size and the irregularity of the perimeter gaps. The intervention ended with the sewing of a linen cloth on the back of the tapestry, the cladding and the preparation of the appropriate fastening system needed to be exhibited in the porch of the Bargello National Museum.

The wallpaper of the Battle of Roncesvalles, cut on all sidesis a fragment of a cloth probably more than ten feet long: it belongs to the circle of tapestries with Stories about Charlemagne and Orlando along with at least others nine fragments known and preserved in various museums and private collections. Precious indications of how the composition of the Bargello specimen should have continued to the right can be found thanks to a fragment preserved in the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels, where the episode of the murder of Marsilio of Orlando appears ., told in the Florentine cloth of the second cartouche at the top. The Commission is not sure, but it is assumed that it can be traced back to the circle of the Dukes of Burgundy.

There fragmentation The wallpaper from the Battle of Roncesvalles is a condition common to many large-scale tapestries, which, decontextualized from their original home, have been cut into smaller portions. In the “Florentine” fragment, Orlando, Charlemagne’s paladin, is clearly seen in the foreground to the right of the lush horse holding the sword Durlindana (marked with the inscription DURENDAL) and fighting the emir of Babylon Baligante, also on horseback. Behind them are observed the paladin Olivier, who is fighting in defense of Orlando, and Marsilio of Zaragoza, the king of the Saracens. There are fifty-five characters that you can identify by thanks to the inscription on the kurasset: Godebue (Gondebue, King of Friesland); Baligant (Baligante, Emir of Babylon), Marsille (Marsilio, king of the Saracens); Tyery (Thierry); Olivier (Oliviero); Rolant (Orlando).

The long and complex restoration of the wallpaper from the Battle of Roncesvalles has been completed

Windows on art

If you liked this article or found it interesting,
Sign up for our free newsletter!
No spam, just one Sunday issue plus any extras to keep you updated on all our news!

Your weekly reading about the whole art world

SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER

Leave a Comment