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Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Doni Tondo

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Artwork

Author: Michelangelo Buonarroti
Title: The Doni Tondo
Date: 1507
Technique: tempera on panel
Dimension: 120 cm (diameter)
Location: Florence, Uffizi Gallery

Photo Shoot

PICTURE
Image Size: 2.538.733.144 pixel (50.162x50.612)
Colour Depth: 16 bit Per Channel
Shooting: July 2012
Shots: 247

EQUIPMENT:
Camera Body: Nikon D800E
Pictures Acquisition Software: Nikon Camera Control Pro 2
Quality Control and Postprocessing Software: Nikon Capture NX 2

CREDITS
Image used with permission from Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities with thanks to the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico, the State Museums of Florence and the management and staff of the Uffizi Gallery.

All rights reserved

Titian, Venus of Urbino (1538)

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Shroud and Haltadefinizione: the shooting of 2008

Haltadefinizione® was in charge of the shooting of the cloth of the Shroud between January 22nd and 23rd 2008.
On the occasion of the extraordinary opening of the preservation system ordered by Cardinal Poletto, the then Custodian of the Holy Shroud, in agreement with the Holy See, Haltadefinizione® was authorized to acquire high definition (HD) digital images of the Shroud. These HD images represent a milestone in the history of the Shroud. During the shooting of the Shroud, the entire surface of the cloth was captured for the first time using advanced HD photographic techniques. A process very similar, on a small scale, to that used for topography.
The image reached an unprecedented optical resolution not visible to the naked eye, allowing clearly to distinguish the individual elements that compose the cloth: elements of a diameter of a few hundredths of a millimeter.
The most critical aspect of the project was the shooting of the cloth. The photographic device was assembled in maximum-safety around the reliquary using a carriage with parallel rails. The lighting system was especially designed to filter any harmful radiation to the cloth, but most of all special attention was given to the calibration of the spectrum, which helped faithfully reproduce the actual color and fabric of the Shroud image.

All of these precautions minimized the risk of contamination and damage of the Shroud. Therefore, 1649 photographs were taken, each of which represents the area of the size of a business card, creating a single image of 12 billion points stored in one file of 72 Gigabytes, equal to the contents of 16 DVDs.
In order to reproduce the entire image at its maximum enlargement, a humongous cloth would be needed, 68 meters wide and 18 high.
HD digital photography by Haltadefinizione® is an indispensable tool for researchers who wish to access anytime to unique images of the Shroud and process them in real time.

Palazzo Besta, Ariosto's Cycle (1550)

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Teglio, Valtellina (Sondrio)

Artwork

The Main Room is at the first floor of the Besta Palace and is the most prestigious room of the building. The walls are decorated with 21 panels representing some scenes from the Orlando Furioso by Ariosto, whose realization covered up previous frescoes with vegetable motifs that can be seen on a portion of the wall near the fireplace, thanks to the last restores. Recent studies found the print of Ariosto's masterpiece where the anonymous painter took inspiration for the decoration of the room: it is a copy of Orlando Furioso printed in Venice in 1542 by Giolito de Ferrari. Because of the cultural activity of the Besta court, it's not hard to think that in their library there was a copy of this volume, a  copy of which, printed in 1547, is now preserved in the Braindese Library of Milan. The existence of other to series of frescoes with the same subject, one by the Valenti in Talamona, the other in Castel Masegra in Sondrio, proves the great interest of the courts for Ariosto's literature and allows us to date Teglio's paintings around 1550.
The Main Room of the Besta Palace, for its completeness and preservation, is a superb example. The scenes show in a quick and dynamic way the histories of some characters of the poem, mainly the heroines, whose experiences are in some panels represented ad allegories of the world and human feelings.

Photo Shoot

PICTURE
Average Size for every single fresco: 771.225.468 pixel (27.052 x 58.509)
Color depth: 16 bit per channel
Shots: June 2008
Number of shots: 2250

COMPUTING
CPU: Two Quad Core AMD Opteron processors
16 Gigabyte RAM memory
2 Terabyte hard disk space


EQUIPMENT:

Camera: Nikon D2Xs
Lens: AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED
Real time acquisition Software: Nikon Camera Control Pro
Postprocessing and real time verification software: Nikon Capture NX
Pointing Device: Motorized Panoramic
Head: CLAUSS Rodeon VR

Notes: great care has been adopted to illuminate frescoes during shooting. Lighting system has been tested and validated in the Photometric Laboratory of the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro not to damage the painting.

CREDITS
In collaboration with MINISTERO PER I BENI E LE ATTIVITÀ CULTURALI - Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici of Milan  

All rights reserved

Historical context

The Besta Palace, one of the most beautiful and better preserved palaces of the renaissance in Valtellina, was made famous by the decoration campaign by the Besta family during the sixteenth century. They became the lords of the valley after  having purchased many lands from the Bishop of Milan, including the Teglio Castle.
In 1508 Azzo Besta died without seeing the birth of his son Azzo II. His wife Ippolita married Andrea Guicciardi from Ponte, a highly trained man whose power gown thanks to his prudent management of the family business. The humanistic education of Andrea Guicciardi, chancellor in Pavia University, influenced the training of the young Azzo II who, with his wife Agnese Quadrio, soon filled his court with artists, intellectuals and scholars.
The Besta Palace, built around the great central court and updated to the latest architectonic language of the time, was decorated with frescoes that testify the culture of the people who lived there.
Beside the series by Ariosto, painted on the walls of the Main Hall, other paintings represent the classics of literature, like the scenes from the Eneide painted in the main court, frequent subject also in other renaissance palaces (Bologna, Sabbioneta, Mantova).
Carlo I, son of Azzo II, wanted the decoration of the Creation Room, with frescoes inspired by the Geesis and with the controversial representation of the Terra Australis on the vault .
There is no doubt that this kind of decoration represents completely and carefully the small and refined renaissance court of the family Besta from Teglio, with the paintings in the Palace, the classic portals, the loggia, the wrought-iron windows.

Artwork Detail

1- In the IV panel, to underline that Gabrina and Filandro moved to Holland, the artist paints a stork nest on the roof of the house.

2- In the XVIII panel the cupidity is represented as an animal with donkey ears, wolf's head, lion's legs and fox's body. Among those who commit this sin are recognizable the powerful kings and the Pope.


3- On the background of the XI panel Dalinda, regretting her nastiness, is welcomed in a convent. Here are noticeable the skills of the painter in outlining the small figures on the background of the panel.


4- In the XXIV panel are represented some of the objects lost by men on the Earth that Astolfo will find on the Moon. Snakes with girls' faces, made by forger and thieves, some golden weapons, symbol of the presents done to
    ingratiate the powerful men, some knocked over bowls representing the charity prescribed in the wills and sacks of coins and broken just symbols of non virtuous actions.


5- In the X panel we can notice the painter skills in representing the horses in different positions, often very shortened.

Panels Description

1- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel I (Canto XXI, 17-18)
Gabrina, Argeo's wife, tries to convince Filandro, injured and welcomed in his friend's house, to become her lover.

2- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel II (Canto XXI, 20-24 and 28)
Gabrina tells his husband Argeo that Filandro, while he was away, took advantage of her. The young man, who was not guilty, is captured and segregated in a tower.

3- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel III (Canto XXI, 20-24 and 28)
Gabrina persuades Filandro, still imprisoned, to kill Morando il Bello, with the excuse that he takes advantage of her while her husband Argeo in away. But Filandro, while he was fulfilling his lover's desire, kills Argeo by mistake, not recognizing him because of his disguise

4- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel IV (Canto XXI, 58-59)
After the marriage of Gabrina and Filandro they move to Holland. But Gabrina arranges with a doctor to poison also the second husband.

5- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel V (Canto IV, 58; V, 10-11 and 15-17; VI,5)
Dalinda, Ginevra's dame, welcomes in her bedroom her lover Polinesso, who is in love with Ginevra and asks Dalinda to help convincing her of his love.

6- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel VI (Canto V, 19-22, 27-35)
Dalinda gives a fake letter of Ginevra to Polinesso, in order to make him show it to Ariodante to make him believe he really was Ginevra's lover.

7- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel VII (Canto V, 46-52)
To deceive Ariodante, Dalinda disguises with Ginevra's dress and meets Polinesso. Ariodante, seeing the betrayal of his lover, falls in despair but is held back by his brother Lurcanio.

8- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel VIII (Canto V, 53-57; VI, 5-6)
Ariodante, after discovering the betrayal, trues to commit suicide throwing himself into the sea. But regretting it, he goes back to the shore where he meets and heremit.

9- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel IX (Canto IV, 59-70; V, 63-65)
Lurcanio denounces the presumed betrayal of Ginevra who is given a death sentence. Here appears also Rinaldo who saves Dalinda from the killers sent by Polinesso.

10- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel X (Canto IV, 63;V, 75, 83-86)
The duel between Lurcanio and an unknown knight is interrupted by Rinaldo who, knowing the truth, now supports Ginevra.

11- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XI (Canto V, 86-88; VI, 8-9, 14-16)
Rinaldo kills Polinesso in a duel. The story ends with the marriage of Ginevra and Ariodante and with the forgiveness by the king of Dalinda, who decides to enter a convent.

12- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Landscape
Naturalistic decoration above the window.

13- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XII (Canto X, 107, 112)
Angelica wears the magic ring that makes her invisible and escapes riding a small red dragon.

14- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XIII (Canto X, 114; XI, 2, 6-7)
Ruggero saves Angelica from the Ogress cliff where she was imprisoned and escapes with her riding a Hippogriff.

15- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Landscape
Naturalistic decoration above the window.

16- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XIV
Episodes of women ungrateful in love.

17- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XV (Canto XLII, 64)
Rinaldo, knowing the marriage of Angelica and Medoro, is consumed by Jealousy. Then comes the Disdain to help, represented by a mysterious knight with a torch.

18- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Landscape
Naturalistic decoration above the window.

19- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XVI (Canto XIV, 82-84)
The allegory of the Discord is represented by a woman with colored clothes, with many lawyers, jurists, accusers and accused around.

20- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XVII (Canto XIV, 93)
The personifications of Sleep, Laziness, Sloth, Silence and Oblivion populate the sleep cave.

21- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XVIII (Canto XXVI, 31-33)
The Cupidity, a monster with donkey's ears, wolf's head, lion's legs and fox's body, destroys powerful men, above all inside the Church.

22- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XIX (Canto XXVI, 35-36)
The Cupidity is killed by a knight and three young men who represents the European kings.

23- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XX (Canto VI, 63)
Ruggero on the Alcina island meets strange characters, among which also an old men sitting on a tortoise.

24- Series of Ariosto, Besta Palace, Panel XXI (Canto XXXIV, 51-52, 67, 69, 73)
Astolfo, to recover Orlando's sense, goes on the Moon with the inflamed cart of Saint John. Some of the objects that men loose on the Earth are painted under the cart.

Additional Information

Palazzo Besta preserves the most complete and greatest series of painting inspired by Orlando Furioso of the whole Valtellina. The fortune of this masterpiece of literature also in more provincial lands like these, is testified by the presence of other two palaces that have the same decoration.
The first example is Castel Masegra in Sondrio where unluckily the fragmentation and the little dimention of the frescoes don't allow us to imagine the original splendour of the artwork. In Talamona instead, where there is another example of paintings about Ariosto in the house of the Valenti family. This important palace placed in the historical center of the little town of Talamona, has a facade organized on more decorative levels: the highest, just under the roof, is painted with six panels between the windows representing scenes from the Orlando Furioso. The taste characterizing the facade dominates also inside the representation, realized with monochrome, almost like an ancient bass-relief. The damages caused by the time and weather don't prevent visitors to recognise among the protagonists of the painted stories Bradamante, Ruggero and Angelica, already met in the small panels of the Besta Palace in Teglio.

Giotto di Bondone, Crucified Christ (1303-1305)

Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Padua

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Artwork

Author: Giotto di Bondone
Subject: Crucified Christ
Dating: 1303-1305
Technique: tempera on wood panel
Dimensions: 223 x 164 cm
Location: Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Padua

The precious wooden Cross, currently kept in the Musei Civici agli Eremitani in Padua, was originally located between the apse and the nave of the Scrovegni Chapel. In fact, it was part of the rich decoration of the church, and also from a stylistic point of view, it features numerous references to the frescoes of the likely contemporary chapel.
The precious wood panel is bordered by a rich carved frame that, on the ends, opens up into polylobed panels where the Madonna, Saint John and, in the upper part, Benedictory God The Father are painted. The image of crucified Christ stands out in the centre, with his head slightly bent forward: Giotto paints with careful attention the face features and the body anatomy, but it is the light that defines the volumes through a delicate chiaroscuro.
The despair of the Madonna and Saint John's gestures reminds the pain scenes of the Passion of Jesus painted in the chapel, and is the symbol of that moved and felt religiousness that Giotto constantly searches in his work.
The rear of the Cross is pretty damaged, but it is still possible to read part of the description. In the centre of the panel there is the tondo with the depiction of the Mystic Lamb. On the rear of the four polylobes of the Cross, there are as many tondos with the symbols of the Evangelists.
The dimensions of the Padua?s Cross are fairly reduced compared to the previous works of Giotto and Cimabue: the small dimension and the abundant use of gold and inlays make it a tiny jewel aimed at embellishing the already rich decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel.

Photo Shoot

PICTURE
Image Size: 1.142.220.429 pixel (29.743 x 38.403)
Colour Depht: 16 bit for channel
Shooting: December 2008
Shots: 235

EQUIPMENT
Camera: Nikon D3 
Acquisition Software: Nikon Camera Control Pro 2
Postprocessing Software: Nikon Capture NX 2

CREDITS

Courtesy by Comune di Padova - Direzione Musei

Musei Civici agli Eremitani

All rights reserved

Giotto di Bondone (Florence 1267 - 1337)

The site of the Scrovegni Chapel represents a turning point in the pictorial path of Giotto.
At the beginning of his work, after the first contacts with Cimabue, Arnolfo di Cambio, and the Roman artistic culture, Giotto participates in the decoration of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi: in particular, the critics have identified in the Stories of Isaac on the Nave of the Upper Basilica, the first personal and independent intervention of Giotto.
However, it is in the Stories of Saint Francis painted in the lower part of the nave, where Giotto imposed himself as an independent and famous artist.
Giotto worked on the Franciscan Stories between 1288 – when Niccolò IV ascended to the papal throne, the first pope from the Franciscan Order – and 1297. Thanks to the success gained in Assisi, he was commissioned important works in Rome, by Pope Boniface VIII, as well as in Florence, where his presence is documented in 1301. Those are the years of the Crucifix in Santa Maria Novella, of the Polittico di Badia at the Uffizi gallery, of the Crucifix in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini: in these works, he enhances the use of colours, chiaroscuro, volumes of the figures in relation to the space, improving his already innovative language tested in Assisi.
The peak of this path is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Giotto worked at it between 1303 and 1305, and the critics quite agree on ascribing to the Master the conceiving of the composition of the structure, as well as the frescoes that cover the whole surface of the chapel. During this decorative campaign, Giotto also painted the wood panel with God The father on the Throne, set in the big arch of the Chapel, and the wooden Cross, which are currently located in the Museo degli Eremitani.
Upon completion of this work, he returned to Assisi, where he painted the frescoes of the Maddalena Chapel in the Lower Basilica, before going to Rome (around 1311) where he worked on the mosaic portraying the Navicella degli Apostoli (The Apostoles' small ship) in the atrium of the Basilica of Saint Peter.
In the following years, Giotto was invited at the most important Italian courts and families: to Naples, at the Angevine Court, and to Milan, where he worked for Azzone Visconti.
The last big frescoes executed by the Master are in Florence in the Basilica di Santa Croce: the Life Episodes of Saint John the Evangelist and of Saint John the Baptist in Cappella Peruzzi, and the Life Episodes of Saint Francis on the walls of Cappella Bardi.
In his last years, Giotto even ventured on the design of the Campanile of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, whose construction began in 1334, three years before he died.

Giotto di Bondone, God the Father (1303-1305)

Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Padua

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Artwork

Author: Giotto di Bondone
Subject: God The Father
Dating: 1303-1305
Technique: tempera on wood panel
Dimensions: 150x95 cm
Location: Musei Civici agli Eremitani, Padua

The wood panel depicting God The Father on the throne was originally located in the upper part of the triumphal arch of the Scrovegni Chapel.
Today it is located in the Musei Civici agli Ermitani in Padua and is provisionally replaced in the Chapel by a copy.
The altar-piece is inside the representation of the History of Salvation that unwinds itself among the frescoes of the chapel: God The father is portrayed while He’s calling the Archangel Gabriel to ask him to descend on earth and announce the Madonna that She will become the mother of the Saviour.
The panel was hinged to the wall, and originally had the function of a door: a kind of window that was opened during the special liturgies that were held every year inside the chapel on the occasion of the Annunciation Day.
The panel is pretty damaged, yet it is possible to grasp the direct intervention of Giotto who paints the drapery of the clothes and the volume of the figure with quick and determined stroke. Thorough care is given to the golden decoration on the hems of the dress and to the architectural construction of the throne, with a structure that highlights the strong influence of classic art, and especially of Arnolfo di Cambio works, who Giotto directly mentioned also in several details of the Chapel's frescoes.

Photo Shoot

PICTURE
Image Size: 100.193.694 pixel (16.057 x 24.942)
Colour Depht: 16 bit for channel
Shooting: December 2008
Shots: 80

EQUIPMENT
Camera: Nikon D3 
Acquisition Software: Nikon Camera Control Pro 2
Postprocessing Software: Nikon Capture NX 2

CREDITS

Courtesy by Comune di Padova - Direzione Musei

Musei Civici agli Eremitani

All rights reserved

Giotto di Bondone (Florence 1267 - 1337)

The site of the Scrovegni Chapel represents a turning point in the pictorial path of Giotto.
At the beginning of his work, after the first contacts with Cimabue, Arnolfo di Cambio, and the Roman artistic culture, Giotto participates in the decoration of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi: in particular, the critics have identified in the Stories of Isaac on the Nave of the Upper Basilica, the first personal and independent intervention of Giotto.
However, it is in the Stories of Saint Francis painted in the lower part of the nave, where Giotto imposed himself as an independent and famous artist.
Giotto worked on the Franciscan Stories between 1288 – when Niccolò IV ascended to the papal throne, the first pope from the Franciscan Order – and 1297. Thanks to the success gained in Assisi, he was commissioned important works in Rome, by Pope Boniface VIII, as well as in Florence, where his presence is documented in 1301. Those are the years of the Crucifix in Santa Maria Novella, of the Polittico di Badia at the Uffizi gallery, of the Crucifix in the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini: in these works, he enhances the use of colours, chiaroscuro, volumes of the figures in relation to the space, improving his already innovative language tested in Assisi.
The peak of this path is the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Giotto worked at it between 1303 and 1305, and the critics quite agree on ascribing to the Master the conceiving of the composition of the structure, as well as the frescoes that cover the whole surface of the chapel. During this decorative campaign, Giotto also painted the wood panel with God The father on the Throne, set in the big arch of the Chapel, and the wooden Cross, which are currently located in the Museo degli Eremitani.
Upon completion of this work, he returned to Assisi, where he painted the frescoes of the Maddalena Chapel in the Lower Basilica, before going to Rome (around 1311) where he worked on the mosaic portraying the Navicella degli Apostoli (The Apostoles' small ship) in the atrium of the Basilica of Saint Peter.
In the following years, Giotto was invited at the most important Italian courts and families: to Naples, at the Angevine Court, and to Milan, where he worked for Azzone Visconti.
The last big frescoes executed by the Master are in Florence in the Basilica di Santa Croce: the Life Episodes of Saint John the Evangelist and of Saint John the Baptist in Cappella Peruzzi, and the Life Episodes of Saint Francis on the walls of Cappella Bardi.
In his last years, Giotto even ventured on the design of the Campanile of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore, whose construction began in 1334, three years before he died.