Hi! My name is Robyn and I'm the conservator at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
Long before arriving at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in 1984 our fresco, Crucifixion with Saints, by Polidoro di Bartolomeo, was removed from the wall of a church in Italy, transferred to a canvas lining, and backed with a wooden lattice support to facilitate transport. Before conservation the fresco was in good condition structurally, but was very dirty with water stains from the top to the bottom and a dark layer of dirt and dust all over the surface.
In 2011 conservators Catherine Orange Fischer and Sylvia Manrique Tamayo spent three months carefully treating the fresco. First they carefully removed the dirt and dust from the surface of the fresco with q-tips. In some areas they needed to consolidate – or secure – small sections of the surface paint. They filled some areas where material had been lost and also retouched small sections of the painted surface which no longer had paint on the surface.
During the cleaning the conservators discovered that the nest with pelicans that you can see at the top of the cross had been painted over – probably because a part of the nest was lost during the removal of the fresco from the church The nest had been hidden with a dark blue color and the head of one of the pelicans is missing.
If you look carefully, you can see a small section of the fresco which was not cleaned. You can see how dirty and discolored this area is – did you spot it? It’s under St. John’s right foot.