Old Masters Techniques in Beijing

In order to strengthen the cultural exchange between China and Europe, TIAC has organized a Master Workshop in Beijing called Old Masters Techniques. Two experts on the matter, Daniela Serrano, Art Restorer, and Daniela Astone, painter and director of the second year studio of the painting department of The Florence Academy of Art, have traveled all the way to China to share some precious european heritage.   

Daniela Serrano started the course introducing the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, an autonomous institute located in Florence specialized in restoration of works of art, where she completed her Master Studies.

It was fundamental to show to the oriental audience that, due to its artistic high level and history, The Opificio is one of the most important sources of knowledge in terms of restoration techniques not only in Italy, but also in Europe. The institute was established in 1588 at the behest of Ferdinando I de' Medici to satisfy his love for inlaid precious and semi-precious stoneworks. This grand ducal institution, which remained active for three centuries, was the core of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, established at the end of the 19th century, which still has its headquarter in the original location chosen in 1798 for the laboratories formerly housed in the Uffizi. The institute maintains also a specialist library and archive of conservation, a museum displaying historic examples of pietre dure (hard stones) inlaid semi-precious stones artifacts and a scientific laboratory focussed on researching and providing conservation and restoration services.

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Having a broad background on the matter, Daniela Serrano unveiled details about materials, chemistry and techniques used by some of most admired european painters.

The preparation of rabbit glue with the correct proportions, its application on wood and canvas, pigment grinding, oil selection and imprimitura preparation where some of the subjects treated during her lessons, which where focused mainly in producing the painters materials from scratch using the same raw materials, oils, powders and tools used by the Great Masters in the seventeenth century.

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After the theoretical lessons, the students had the task to try and practice the techniques themselves along with Daniela Astone.

Astone is an Italian new-realist painter who after graduating from the visual arts high school of Grosseto, moved to Florence to study illustration at the International school of Comix. In 2001 she enrolled in the Florence Academy of Art, where she graduated in 2004. Daniela is currently the intermediate program director at The FAA, a prestigious academy founded by Daniel Graves, a great Neo-Realist living Master, specialized in offering training to aspiring professional draftsmen, painters, and sculptors who desire to work in the tradition of the Old Masters.


With Daniela Astone's guidances, the students could experiment the practical application of the materials produced by themselves during the exercise of copying on canvas one of Rembrant's famous self portraits. This brought a whole new painting experience to artists who broaden their understanding of color and its meaning by being forced to analyze in a much more conscious and methodic way the techniques of the Great Masters.

Anna Rosa Paladino