ARTS(M)400 Mural Conservation, Daniela Murphy Corella, Fall 2019 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS(M)400 Mural Conservation, Daniela Murphy Corella, Fall 2019

(minimum of 77 hours: 20 lecture hours and 57 practice hours)

First lesson: Monday, September 9
Midterm Break: October 26 - November 3
Midterm paper: Monday, November 4
Final exam: December 16


  • Teatro della Pergola, Via della Pergola no. 18, Firenze
  • Convent of San Marco, Via Cavour 56, Firenze

Click here to view map coordinates and public transport availability for La Pergola theater.

Course Description

“Practise what you know, and you will discover what now you do not know.” Rembrandt van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669)

And practice is what this course is all about. Thanks to an agreement between SACI, the Pergola Theater Foundation, the City Town Hall of Florence, and the Florentine Superintendancy in charge of Italian National Heritage, the Mural Conservation Department has been given the unique opportunity of developing a conservation campaign regarding a series of 19th century decorated rooms within the premises which today is the magnificent Pergola Theater.

Built for the purpose of accommodating 19th century traveling actors, art directors, set designers, makeup artists and an array of technicians, these small and picturesque mini apartments were entirely decorated using the technique of lime white painting, a mineral based medium which became into vogue during the Italian Baroque.

SACI students will also be working on a second site located at the convent of San Marco. The San Marco project entails developing a conservation treatment report for the magnificent wall painting depicting the deposition of Christ and executed by the last Florentine wall painter, Pietro Annigoni between 1938 and 1953.

SACI students will be given theoretical and practical lessons on site, using the wall painting decorations as a case study to understand both the painting technique, the main causes of deterioration, and the practical approach expected by professional conservators for their conservation, restoration, and preservation.

Students will understand how diagnostic campaigns are undertaken and how comparative testing on the walls lead to the establishment of a specific methodological intervention.

Emphasis will be placed on how conservation projects are documented and how efficient treatment reports are undertaken.

Students will become familiar with implemented procedures such as:

  • Pre consolidation
  • Dusting
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Water Cleaning
  • Chemical Cleaning
  • Mortar consolidation
  • Mortar grouting
  • Salt extraction
  • In-filling
  • Retouching
  • Structural stability and supporting mechanisms

Treatment procedures will be undertaken by students under the strict supervision of conservator/restorer Daniela Murphy Corella ACR and the head of Conservation department, Roberta Lapucci.  Students will also interact with the supervisor of the project from the Soprintendenza Speciale del Polo Museale di Firenze.

Physical strength, stamina, enthusiasm and a real desire to understand what on-site work on mural paintings entails are mandatory for this course.

Students in this course will encounter a challenging program in which their capacity of analysis, logical thinking, practical application and sound team work, will be constantly required.

Students suffering from skin or breathing allergies or vertigo are requested to contact the head conservator, Daniela Murphy Corella, before deciding to undertake this course.

Health & Safety

A lesson on health and safety will be carried out on-site.
The materials below will be provided by SACI:

  • One white boiler suit.
  • One pair of metal capped health and safety boots.
  • One gas mask for ammonium carbonate fumes
  • Gloves and dust masks.

Exams & Grading

Students will be asked to hand over a Midterm Paper which will be evaluated and graded and will form part of the final exam grade. Further details regarding format, length and presentation of the paper will be given to students during the first half of the semester.

The Final Exam will consist of a written exam made up of approx.20 questions covering all subject matters undertaken throughout the semester. The final exam grade will be divided as follows:
30% On-site work
20% Midterm paper
20% Class participation
30% Final exam

Grading will follow the Bloom's Taxonomy method. Papers will be corrected and given back to students with a final comment. Students will be able to discuss their paper with the professor. Students must take exams at established examination times. No early exams will be given unless special arrangements are made with the instructor. Students will not be excused from exams or allowed to take early or make-up exams owing to travel arrangements. Students are not permitted to use laptop computers or cell phones during exams. Cell phones must be turned off during all class sessions, films, and lectures.

The following grading system will be observed:

0 - 59 = F,        60 - 69 = D,      70 - 72 = C-,     73 - 76 = C,      77 - 79 = C+,

80 - 82 = B-,     83 - 86 = B,     87 - 89 = B+,     90 - 92 = A-,     93 - 100 = A

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.

Class Attendance

Class attendance is compulsory. Only absences owing to a documented illness or emergency are excused by the Dean. Two unexcused absences result in a lowering of the grade by 1/3 of a letter. Two late arrivals to class are considered the equivalent of one unexcused absence. Students who do not stay for the duration of a class session will be marked absent. Students who miss more than 20% of a course owing to unexcused absences will not receive a passing grade for the course. Attendance will also be indicated on the final grading sheet.

Readings & Resources

In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act Textbook Provision, SACI provides, when possible, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and retail price of required and recommended reading. Note: All texts are available in the SACI Worthington Library or in the Conservation Department.

Mandatory Readings: Ref n° SACI Library


• Conservation of Wall Paintings P. Mora, L. Mora e P. Philippot, , Butterworths, 1984 (Professor’s personal copy. (This book is located in the mural painting conservation department).
ISBN: 9780408108126 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• The Craftsman's Handbook di Cennino A. Cennini e Daniel V. Thompson (Brossura - giu. 1954) (This book is located in the mural painting conservation department)
ISBN: 9780486200545 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1628.05 Cesare Brandi, Theory of Restoration, Nardini Editore, 2005. ISBN: 9788840440897 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• VII 849.1 Giorgio Vasari, Vasari on Technique, trans. L.S. Maclehose, ed. G. Baldwin Brown, Dover Publications, 1960.
ISBN: 9780486207179 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X1602.3 The Conservation of Wall Paintings, ed. S. Cather, The Getty Conservation Institute, 1991.
ISBN: 9780892361625 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• PH 1628.22 In Review: An Assessment of Florentine Methods of Wall Painting Conservation Based on the Use of Mineral Treatments [Photocopy] / Matteini, Mauro 

• X 1590.15 Preventive Conservation: Practice, Theory and Research, ed. Ashok Roy, The International Institute for Conservation, 1994.
ISBN: To Be Determined (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1610.1 Antonio Paolucci, The Restoration Laboratory in Florence, Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino, 1986.
ISBN: To Be Determined (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1611.6.1 James Beck, Art Restoration: The Culture, the Business, and the Scandal, W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.
ISBN: 9780393312973 (Retail price: $21.95)

• X 1615 Ken Shulman, Anatomy of a Restoration, Walker & Co., 1991. ISBN: 9780802711212 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1628.30 Giorgio Torraca, Solubility and Solvents for Conservation Problems, ICCROM, 1990.
ISBN: 9789290770923 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1602.4 Brajer, Isabelle, The Transfer of Wall Paintings: Based on Danish ExperienceArcade, 2002. 
ISBN: 9781873132432 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• Taking the wrong path: learning from oversights, misconceptions, failures and mistakes in conservation. Examples from wall painting conservation in Denmark. Isabelle Brajer

• Jonathan Ashley-Smith, former Head of Conservation at the V&A Museum

Recommended Readings:
Personal copies of some of these titles can be acquired through

• Cather, Sharon. 2003. Aqueous extraction of soluble salts from porous materials: Alternatives and contra-indications. In Mauersalze und Architekturoberflächen, ed. Heinz Leitner, Steffen Laue, Heiner Siedel, 167-72. Dresden: Hochschule für Bildende Künste. 
ISBN: To Be Determined (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• Cather, Sharon. 2003. Assessing causes and mechanisms of detrimental change to wall paintings. In Conserving the Painted Past: Developing Approaches to Wall Painting Conservation: Post-prints of a Conference Organised by English Heritage, London, 2-4 December, 1999, ed. Robert Gowing and Adrian Heritage, 64-74. London: James & James.
ISBN: To Be Determined (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• Heritage, Adrian, Alison Heritage, Friederike Funke, Véronique Vergès-Belmin and Ann Bourgès. 2008. How do conservators tackle desalination? An international survey of current polticing methods. In Cultural Heritage Research Meets Practice8th European Conference on Research for Protection, Conservation and Enhancement of Cultural Heritage, Conference Preprints, Ljubljana, Slovenia, November 10-14, 2008, ed. Jana Kolar and Matija Strlič, 58-59. Ljubljana: National and University.
ISBN: To Be Determined (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• Arnold, Andreas and Konrad Zehnder. 1991. Monitoring wall paintings affected by soluble salts. In The Conservation of Wall PaintingsProceedings of a Symposium Organized by the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Getty Conservation Institute, London, July 13-16, 1987, ed. Sharon Cather, 103-35. Marina del Rey, Calif.: Getty Conservation Institute.

• Young, David and Donald Ellsmore. 2008. Salt Attack and Rising Damp: A Guide to Salt Damp in Historic and Older Buildings. 2nd ed. Sydney: Heritage Council of NSW, Heritage Victoria, South Australian Dept. for Environment and Heritage, Adelaide City Council.

• STRAPPO/Detachment

Additional Useful Reading Material

• X 1602.7 Western Medieval Wall Paintings: Studies and Conservation Experience, ICCROM, 1997
ISBN: 9789290771425 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• The Conservation of John Singer Sargent's Boston Public Library Murals, p. 1 [Periodical] / Pocobene, Gianfranco 

• PH 1590 Preventive Conservation and Building Maintenance / [Photocopy] / Cassar, May

• PH 1590.3 ARCH Foundation Intro. Course on the Documentation, Stabilization and Conservation of Works of Art / [Photocopy] / Thyssen-Bornemisza, Francesca

• X 1586.85 Chris Caple, Conservation Skills: Judgement, Method and Decision Making, Routledge, 2000.
ISBN: 9780415188814 (Retail price: $49.95)

• X 1587.45 Ashok Roy, Tradition and Innovation: Advances in Conservation, International Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, 2000
ISBN: 9780950052595  (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1590.17 Sharing Conservation Decisions, ed. Rosalia Varoli-Piazza, Rosalia, ICCROM, Ograro, 2007.
ISBN: To Be Determined (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1607.2.20 Valentina Russo, Giulio Carlo Argan. Restauro, critica, scienza, Nardini, 2010.
ISBN: 9788840441788  (Retail price: €28)

• PH 01115.21.c.2 Michelangelo: The Last Judgement After the Restoration

• PH 1116.5 Sistine Restoration Remains Veiled in Mystery / [Photocopy] / Daley, Michael

• PH 1043.5.14 Gozzoli's Magi, Gilded Like New: Lastest's of Florence's Restorations Might Turn Out to Be Last One [Photocopy] / Lumsden, Susan 

• V 577.35 Steffi Roettgen, Italian Frescoes: The Flowering of the Renaissance, 1470-1510, Abbeville Press, 1997.
ISBN: 9780789202215 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• VIII 1039.1.5 Eve Borsook, Giotto: The Peruzzi Chapel, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1965.
ISBN: To Be Determined (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• X 1629.11.2 Santa Maria degli Angiolini a Firenze: Ten Years of Restoration, Intr. By Bruno Santi, Edifir, 2006.
ISBN: 9788879702959 (Retail price: €40)

• V 705.50 Mary Lackritz Gray, A Guide to Chicago's Murals, The University of Chicago Press, 2001.
ISBN: 9780226305998 (Retail price: $30)

• VIII 1187.25 Linda Bank Downs, Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals, Detroit Institute of Arts, 1999.
ISBN: 9780393045291 (Retail price: $75)

• VIII 983 Jack J. Spector, The Murals of Eugene Delacroix at Saint Sulpice, College Art Association, 1967.
ISBN: 9780271004082 (Retail price: $53.95)

• Joachim Poeschke, Italian Frescoes: The Age of Giotto, 1280-1400, Abbeville Press, 2005.
ISBN: 9780789208637 (Retail price: $135)

• Steffi Roettgen, Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance 1400-1470, Abbeville Press, 1996.
ISBN: 9780789201393 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• Steffi Roettgen, Italian Frescoes: The Flowering of the Renaissance, 1470-1510, Abbeville Press, 1997.
ISBN: 9780789202215 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• Julian Kliemann, Italian Frescoes: High Renaissance and Mannerism 1510-1600, Abbeville Press, 2004.
ISBN: 9780789208316 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

• Pittura a fresco: Tecniche esecutive, cause di degrado, restauro / Technique of frescoes, Felice Le Monnier, 1989.
ISBN: 9788800856980 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Internet resources
Among those recommended: JSTOR for journals, e.g. Art BulletinThe Burlington MagazineThe American Journal for Conservation and many others; JAIC online; AATA online; CAMEO: conservation and Art Material Encyclopaedia online; Conservation Online (CoOL); ARTSTOR
E- Conservation, online conservation journal

Class Schedule

Please bear in mind that the contents of individual classes may be changed throughout the course according to the class's progress. 

Week 1

Monday, September 9
Classroom Palazzo dei Cartelloni, Via Sant'Antonino 11
Meeting with professors Lapucci, Murphy, and Kron-Morelli. Students will be taken to the San Marco site for an introductory lesson.

Week 2

Monday, September 16
Onsite with Murphy at San Marco: Diagnostics

Week 3

Monday, September 23
Onsite with Murphy/Kron-Morelli half day at San Marco:
In-filling & Diagnostics

Week 4

Monday, September 30
Onsite with Kron-Morelli at San Marco: Infilling Mapping

Week 5

Monday, October 7
Onsite with Murphy at San Marco: Mapping – preliminary tests

Week 6

Monday, October 14
Onsite with Murphy/Kron-Morelli half day: Mapping – preliminary tests

Week 7

Monday, October 21
Onsite with Kron-Morelli at San Marco: Reports



Week 8

MITERM BREAK (October 26 - November 3)



Week 9

Monday, November 4
Onsite with Murphy at La Pergola: Introduction Pergola site
Paper due

Week 10

Monday, November 11
Field Trip with Kron-Morelli

Cleaning and mapping

Week 11

Monday, November 18
Onsite with Murphy/Kron-Morelli half day at La Pergola: Cleaning and mapping

Week 12

Monday, November 25
Onsite with Murphy at La Pergola: 
Cleaning & in-filling

Week 13

Monday, December 2
Onsite with Murphy/Cron-Morelli half day at La Pergola: 
Cleaning & in-filling

Week 14

Monday, December 9
Onsite Cron-Morelli at La Pergola: 
Cleaning & in-filling

Week 15

Monday, December 16
Classroom with Murphy in Palazzo Maidoff, Via Sant'Egidio
Murphy: Review for final exam
Final exam

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