TECHNOLOGICAL ANSWERS
TO RESTORATION

The growing need to preserve our cultural heritage is causing a rise in the demand for increasingly accurate cleaning techniques, featuring high selectivity and low impact.

CASI DI STUDIO

THE FONTE GAIA

THE FONTE GAIA BY JACOPO DELLA QUERCIA IN PIAZZA DEL CAMPO IN SIENA 

AUTHORITY RESPONSIBLE OF THE RESTORATION::  Opera di Santa Maria della Scala, Siena

RESTORER:  Stefano Landi

HISTORY: This is a very important artifact built from 1408 to 1419 which is said to be an inspiration for Michelangelo and Masaccio. The restoration of the Fonte Gaia by Jacopo della Quercia was started in 1989 under the direction of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence and ended in 2010. From 2000 to 2010 the work was done in the restoration workshop specially set up in the museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala. These twenty years have marked a long and complex path of action, characterized by the development of new methodologies and technologies applied to the restoration. The intervention was necessary because of  the advanced state of degradation of the fifteenth century fountain, due primarily to the nature of the material used, the marble of the Sienese mountains of limestone composition, characterized by numerous veins and partial metamorphism, then with a structure weaker than the traditional Carrara marble, and secondly the location of the work, exposed to the external environment (in Piazza del Campo at first and since 1904 in the Loggia dei Nove of  the Public Palace) and therefore subjected to the runoff of rainwater, to the atmospheric humidity, to the phenomenon of freezing / thawing, to the deposit of particles, to the formation of black crusts and calcareous deposits;  and finally the damage was caused also by direct contact with the public. Some areas of the surface of the fountain showed  superficial gray deposits and a yellowish calcium oxalate film.

LASER CLEANING METHODOLOGY:  In the third and last phase of restoration it was decided to use the laser technology together with more traditional chemical and mechanical methods. The laser cleaning performed with the SMART CLEAN 2 laser allowed the safeguard of the residual polichromy, of gilding and fragile drawings and of the calcium oxalate film which were concealed under the layers of encrustation and which had been detected by the scientific analyses previously performed on the artifact.