This conservation and restoration workshop offers the chance to see (until 24th September) the Medici reliquary. Currently on public view after a delicate restoration operation, this rare piece is usually kept at the Treasury of the Grand Dukes in Palazzo Pitti.
Glassworks became rather popular in Florence between the 1500s and the 1600s and a few famous glass artists worked in the city, among them also Niccolò di Vincenzo Landi da Lucca who, between 1591 and 1623, directed the Boboli and Uffizi glass furnaces. The reliquary is probably to be attributed to him.
The reliquary is a uniquely rare and fascinating piece: it represents the Mysteries of the Rosary and the Crucifixion of Jesus. It was made employing a wide range of different materials - glass, wood, shells, gypsum, rock crystals, limestone, metal and fabric.
The object is technically refined and famous for incorporating parts made with lampwork glass: the technique consists in warming glass sticks on a flame and modelling and moulding the glass with metal tools, welding the various parts together.
The restoration intervention cleaned and secured all the figure, made sure the frames were also repaired and added missing elements recreating them via the modern 3D printing technique. The seven urns containing relics and one character from the crucifixion scene were also reinstalled after they were found in the archives of the Treasury of the Grand Dukes.
The fragile work of art could be considered almost as a miniature and religious Wunderkammer for the elements it contains: the artisans made sure each figure was unique and characterised by its own clothes and accessories. So, if you ever visit the museum of the Opificio, please pay attention to the smallest parts of this work and to its tiniest details. They will surely provide fresh inspirations and encourage you to re-focus on the smallest things in life.