Restoration of the Pieta
We were incredibly fortunate to have the services of Veronica Iezzoni, a world-renowned art restorer, available to us for restoration of the beautiful Pietá sculpture used at the end of the film as Tony, Emily, and Joe come to terms with their relationship and move forward into a new level of their love and friendship.
Veronica has more than twenty years of study, training, and work in interior design, fine art and art restoration. She studied and trained in fresco, sacred art, and restoration in Florence, Italy, and continued work in Italy with various projects in fresco, painting, and statue restoration. She says, “An important part of my restoration training was my inspiring fresco and restoration instructor in Florence, Italy, Lorenzo Casamenti. He advises me still today on special projects. Lorenzo is a most wonderful expert in every type of restoration. He has over fifty years of experience, and is one of the best in his field.” She continues, “I was so fortunate to have worked under Lorenzo’s guidance,” she says. Veronica’s work encompasses restoration for churches, public and government buildings, and private estates. Her work projects are typically done on site or at a restoration lab in Florence, Kentucky. “I cannot claim to have worked ‘in’ the Vatican, because the restoration of Vatican treasures are cared for by Vatican-assigned restorers,” she says, “However, I have been involved with projects associated with the Vatican. For the past 6 years. My restoration work in the United States has kept me quite busy, between my working studio in Covington, Kentucky, and a workshop at the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center.” Veronica’s projects in the United States include work for private clients and local churches such as the Parish Church of Old St. Mary’s in Cincinnati’s historic Over the Rhine neighborhood, and the Church of the Immaculata in Cincinnati’s famous Mount Adam’s district.
She continues, “Last year, when asked to do the restoration on the Pietá for The Tribunal, it was a tall order. I was involved in several other projects at the time, and helping to plan a pilgrimage tour to Italy for the Center. The statue was in bad shape, and I was looking at a restoration that could take at least 3 months. I found out the statue was needed in 3 weeks for principal photography! With the help of my talented assistant of 5 years, Julia Gunderson, the deadline was met after some very long days and late night hours.”
The statue is approximately sixty years old, constructed of plaster over a wood base material. At some point, that statue was painted with a latex-type house paint and displayed outdoors. Veronica’s first assessment of the work to be done was that the piece would need extensive repair before painting could begin. “When it arrived in my studio, the paint was peeling badly,” she said. “Mold was present on the statue and there were large holes and cracks throughout the piece. The hand of Jesus was mostly crumbled away.” The statue was cleaned with a solution of water and ammonia to help kill the mold. The original paint could not be saved. Veronica and her team went through a long process of re-moving the damaged layers of paint, then filling, repairing and sealing the piece before the painting could begin. In determining the paint scheme for the statue, Veronica says, “In order to be true to what we believe was the original look, the statue needed to be entirely repainted. We chose paint color and a painting style according to the statue’s date and classic muted color scheme. The layering of color and glaze was key. I was no doubt drawing on my training in sacred art, and of course heaven’s guidance. For the flesh tones, we used traditional thin layers of color to mimic real flesh tones. Over the past 15 years, I have gained experience as a professional makeup artist, so skin and face tones are second nature to me and this experience helps me in this sacred work! The statue was completed and finally sealed and waxed after a long night, ending at 3:00 AM. I have to thank my assistant Julia, who put up with my sometimes difficult sense of perfection, and Mark Gerver, who lent a hand or two.”
She continues, “The only other thing I can add is that it is a blessing every time I’m given the grace and ability to restore a sacred piece of art! To reveal the beauty in the face of Mary, or clean and repair the feet of Jesus is to touch the hand of God. For me, each project is a prayer; to know others will be drawn just a little more to heaven each time they look upon it. This is the true value in such work.”