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La Valletta – Art and restoration, a focus on the Opificio delle pietre dure of Florence

“The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” (1608), kept at St. John’s Cathedral in La Valletta, is Caravaggio’s major artwork of the Maltese period and was restored by the Opificio delle pietre dure (Workshop of Semi-precious Stones) of Florence. The Opificio’s Superintendent, Marco Ciatti, will be present at the conference organised by the Italian Institute of Culture (IIC) in La Valletta on Thursday, Feb. 18 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the important restoration work. The conference will illustrate the numerous activities of the Central Institute of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, MIBACT, (the present name of the Opificio) and the images of the Centre’s artwork and facilities will offer the audience a virtual tour of the restoration process.

 “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” (1608)

The former Opificio is the oldest artwork conservation institute in Europe. Its activities focus on three main sectors: the work carried out in its own restoration laboratories and on-site work throughout the national territory, applied research in the restoration sector and training, through one of the three schools of the MIBACT, whose diploma is now equated to that of a Master of Arts university degree. The Institute has a multifarious origin and is the synthesis of a celebrated ancient tradition and a modern multidisciplinary activity. The Opificio was founded by Ferdinando I de’ Medici as a workshop in which to craft furnishings in semi-precious stones and was converted into a restoration laboratory during the last decades of the 19th century, at first handling only the objects that it created during its centuries-old history and later broadening its scope of activity to include similar materials. Marco Ciatti served as Superintendent of the Opificio from 1984 to 2012.  

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