Last Supper by Giorgio Vasari, severely damaged during the flood of 1966. Photo courtesy of Mondadori Portfolio/Archivio Giorgio Lotto/Giogio Lotti.


The Getty Saw a Retiring Generation of Panel Painting Conservators — So They Trained a New One

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From Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503) to Albrecht Dürer’s Adam and Eve (1507), many of the world’s most famous artworks are painted on wooden panels. But only a tiny group of highly trained specialists are equipped to handle the tricky conservation work required for these centuries-old masterpieces.

In the late 2000s, there were roughly 10 such experts worldwide—a small number that was poised to get even smaller. Many of these individuals were approaching retirement age, and across the whole of the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe, there were at most two young conservators considering a career in this niche field.

This was the worrisome picture that emerged from a survey begun in 2008 by Copenhagen’s Statens Museum for Kunst and funded by the Getty Foundation.


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