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Internationally Renowned Art Conservator to Discuss da Vinci Discovery

Posted: April 3, 2018

Dianne Dwyer Modestini, ’73, internationally renowned conservator of nineteenth-century Italian paintings, became a star in the art world in 2008 when she discovered Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) created by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci.  The painting was the first da Vinci discovered in more than 100 years and recently sold at auction for over $400 million.

Modestini will talk about discovering and restoring the lost masterpiece on Monday, April 9, at 1:30 p.m. at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. She also will discuss her newly released book Masterpieces (Cadmo, 2018), which provides a window into the world of art conservator and supplements the memoirs of her late husband, the prominent restorer Mario Modestini.  

Faculty from Buffalo State’s Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department invited Modestini to campus for this free event.

“Her visit is a coup for Buffalo State, art conservators, and art lovers from across Western New York who will have the opportunity to meet such a dedicated and renowned art conservator,” said Patrick Ravines, associate professor and director of the art conservation program. “She’s had a storied career both in Italy and the United States—I anticipate her talk will be of great interest.”

Modestini discovered the da Vinci after an art dealer asked her to restore a painting in 2005. Over six years of painstaking work, including removing a clumsy repainting job, she discovered its true origins.

“One evening, I was reconstructing a loss above the lip when I had a sort of revelation that this Salvator Mundi could only be by Leonardo himself because of the seamless nature of the transitions from shadow to highlight, the complete absence of brushwork, and similar craquelure patterns,” said Modestini, who lives in New York City and Florence, Italy. She operates a private art conservation business in New York and serves as the Kress Paintings Conservator and research professor at New York University’s Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts.

In 2008, da Vinci experts concurred that Modestini’s find was indeed an original. The painting was included in the 2012 exhibition Leonardo da Vinci, Painter at the Court of Milan at the National Gallery in London.

Modestini earned her master’s degree and certificate of advanced study at the Cooperstown Graduate Program in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, which moved to Buffalo State College in 1983 and is now known as the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department.

For more information on the talk, call (716) 878-5025.

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Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department

1300 Elmwood Ave  •  Rockwell Hall 230 •  Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878-5025 •  Fax: (716) 878-5039