Nicolas Froment, (Uzès 1435 ca. – Avignon 1484 ca. )
Front: Martha meets Jesus (left wing); The Raising of Lazarus (center panel)
Dinner at the Pharisee’s House (right wing)
Back: Virgin and Child (left wing); Donor Francesco Coppini kneeling in prayer (right wing)
Triptych, Oil on wood (oak panels), cm 134 x 350 (open)
Firenze, Uffizi Gallery, inv. 1890 no. 1065
Thanks to the support of the Friends of the Uffizi Gallery it was possible to restore one of the most important artworks of the Uffizi Gallery’s 15-century foreign painting collection, the triptych depicting the Rising of Lazarus signed by the French painter Nicolas Froment and dated 1461. The masterpiece is still relatively unknown to the public and will hopefully be exhibited soon again with the progressing works on the new exhibition spaces.
In view of this, the restoration of the triptych was deemed opportune since the pictorial surface was obscured by dirt and by an uneven varnish, besides showing small swelling areas. Some altered retouching were also visible, made in a non-documented restoration probably in the first decades of the 20th century; on that occasion the panels were detached from the original frame, that was then modified and painted over in black.
The natural movement of the wood and the abundance of binder in the paint film caused the
formation of a fine craquelure pattern by shrinkage, that in the previous restoration had been masked with retouching and varnishing meant to uniform the paint layer, altering however the chromatic perception.
The restoration intervention, carried out by the highly skilled restorers Lucia and Andrea Dori, was challenging but extremely satisfactory and revealing surprises. Cleaning brought out the original sparkling colors and exquisite tonal shifts.
In the wing panels monochrome prevails in the portraits of the patron Francesco Coppini and his dignitaries, with bluish shading in the panel depicting the Virgin and Child due to the use of indigo.
The diagnostic analyses carried out by Gianluca Poldi on the pigments and technique revealed the existence of a refined underlying preparatory drawing with some changes during the composition.
Surprises also came from the disassembly of the frame, proving that the splendid openwork,
framing the top of the three panels like flamboyant architecture, are totally original. The side wings partly preserve the dark blue original frame, decorated with motifs resembling jewels, and on the back the original inscription with the painter’s name and the date is still legible.