In Memoriam: Puccio Speroni (1939-2019)

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Puccio Speroni lecturing in an international summer school workshop (part of a series of workshops organized by and held at the School of Conservation and supported by ICCROM and The Getty) on structural treatments of canvas paintings in 1986. Image courtesy of Mikkel Scharff.

By Mikkel Scharff and Jørgen Wadum

After a long period of illness, conservator and former head of paintings conservation at the National Museum of Denmark, Puccio Speroni, died at nearly 80 years old. Puccio came to the world in Impruneta, a town situated in the rolling hills south of Florence. He was trained as a scenographer from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, but as scenography appeared to be breadless in those days, Puccio Speroni gained employment in the conservation workshop at the Uffizi Museum in 1964. The devastating flooding of the Arno River in 1966 became a definitive time, pointing him toward his future work. Puccio was hired at Limonaia di Boboli (the Greenhouse in the Boboli Park behind Palazzo Pitti) in 1968 and led the rescue efforts for the many works of art that had been damaged by the flood water and mud. Young volunteers who traveled to Florence from around the world to help after the disaster reported that they were put to work in Limonaia di Boboli, where Puccio Speroni instructed newcomers in the necessary first aid for the works of art.

From 1969 to 1976 Puccio Speroni worked at various conservation workshops at Fortezza da Basso which care for the many collections and works of art in Tuscany. Chief conservator Steen Bjarnhof (Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark) participated with several colleagues from the Nordic countries in the rescue work in Florence, and in 1977 he invited Puccio to work for a 6-month period at the Danish Art Museum. In 1978, following this stint, Puccio moved to the Danish National Museum's workshops in Brede. He eventually became head of paintings conservation and worked there until 2000. In addition to conservation and restoration at the Museum, Puccio was actively engaged in developing new conservation equipment and methods, participated in teaching at international summer school programs on recent lining techniques and published the results widely.

Besides his work at the National Museum, Puccio Speroni was also active within the International ICOM Committee for Conservation, where he sat on the board from 1993-1999, serving the last three years as vice president. He was part of organizing the first Eastern European ICOM-CC conference in Dresden in 1990 immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain. In 2002, Puccio received the ICOM-CC's medal of merit in recognition of his important work for the organization and for his career as a conservator.

After his retirement Puccio Speroni resumed painting and made several works with compositions and portraits. In 2010, a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Italian Cultural Institute in Hellerup, Denmark. At the exhibition opening, one could meet a large and varied crowd of Puccio's friends and acquaintances; such social and festive gatherings were well-known ingredients throughout Puccio's life in Denmark. Countless are the dinner parties and carnivals which he and his wife Kirsten Trampedach, a recently retired wall-paintings conservator from the National Museum, held in their beautiful and extremely welcoming home in Copenhagen. Among his friends their home were referred to as ‘Pensione Speroni,’ and any local and international guests have benefited from the hospitality and the daunting Italian cuisine that was shared in abundance, something that will stand as a strong and beautiful memory of a now dearly missed Tuscan colleague and friend.

Mikkel Scharff
Associate Professor
School of Conservation KADK, Denmark

Prof em dr Jørgen Wadum
Director of CATS
Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark

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After a long period of illness, conservator and former head of paintings conservation at the National Museum of Denmark, Puccio Speroni, died at nearly 80 years old.
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