An award-winning Italian scholar and conservation expert, Dr. Roberta Lapucci has cataloged and restored numerous works of art belonging to Florentine museums and churches, and is the author of Caravaggio and Optics.
Dr. Roberta Lapucci is SACI’s Conservation Department Head. Since 1986, she has also been teaching Conservation, Artistic Techniques and Diagnostics in specialization courses for post-graduates held at the University of Florence. With more than four decades of conservation experience, she has apprenticed with Florentine restorers, worked in private studios, and authored numerous articles for exhibition catalogs, art history magazines, and critical reviews.
Dr. Lapucci has written extensively on such topics as the science of light and Caravaggio’s working methods, and is the author of a book entitled Caravaggio and Optics, published in 2005. She also co-directed the Caravaggio exhibitions held at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence and the Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome, and established an archive of technical documentation and photographs of Caravaggio’s masterpieces at the Roberto Longhi Foundation in Florence. Some of her recent research proposes the use of a proto-photographic system for the execution of Caravaggio’s artworks using photo sensitive and photo luminescent materials.
Her work for the Soprintendenza dei Beni Artistici of Florence included cataloging and restoring works of art in many of the city’s museums and churches. She also conducted computer research at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa predisposing computerized programs to file documents or artworks for the Italian museums. In 2007, she was awarded the Gold Cross of the Knights of Malta at the Nunnery of St. Ursula at Valletta.
Dr. Lapucci has a Laurea in Art History with Highest Honors, University of Florence; Dottorato di Ricerca, Art History, University of Rome, Florence, Parma. Her PhD dissertation was on the “Technique of Caravaggio: Materials and Methods.”
Students come to SACI, Florence in order to develop their sensorial capability to recognize, distinguish and treat antique materials in the same way the Florentine artists did in the past with such great results.
This is the basis of the Italian approach to conservation: a traditional and conservative one, which tries to rely less on scientific methods, while respecting the Anglo-Saxon approach to conservation.
In Italy we consider it essential to test new scientifically produced substances for at least twenty years before we consider them safe. Only recently have we been able to see how much damage has been done by the introduction of plastics (acrylic and vinyl) in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Our main ethical principles are that any restoration must be first of all “reversible” (anyone in the future will be able to remove what we do), evident (we do not have the same ability as Michelangelo or Leonardo Da Vinci), compatible (physically, chemically and aesthetically) and done to the minimum level necessary (we try to cure and not to perform radical surgery).