The American Research Center in Eygpt

Tribute to Conservator Luigi De Cesaris

Tribute to Conservator Luigi De Cesaris

Tribute to Conservator Luigi De Cesaris
Luigi De Cesaris, who died from a heart
Luigi Esna December 2010

Luigi working at the Monastery of St Matthew 'the Potter', Esna

attack at the Red Monastery, near Sohag, on December 19 2011, contributed a significant part of his professional life to ARCE’s wall painting conservation projects. Following the death in 2004 of his colleague Adriano Luzi, who had led the Italian conservation team in Egypt since the beginning of work at St. Anthony’s Monastery in 1996, Luigi took on the role of team leader. Luigi dedicated himself with enormous energy to the success of ARCE’s work in cultural heritage preservation. With his death, Egypt has lost a highly skilled conservator and ARCE a committed colleague as well as a devoted friend.

Luigi’s work in Egypt began over 20 years ago on the conservation project in the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, funded by the Getty Conservation Institute. It was here, in 1992, that Fr. Maximus al-Antony visited Paolo and Laura Mora who were directing that project and asked them to send conservators to do test cleanings in the old church of St. Anthony in his monastery by the Red Sea. Luigi and Adriano were those selected. Three years later, ARCE and USAID adopted this site as part of ARCE’s Antiquities Development Project, and so a partnership with the Italian conservators began that has resulted over the last 15 years in the rediscovery of a hitherto lost treasury of post-Pharaonic art in Egypt. Luigi was a resolute and influential partner in ARCE’s work in this field, without whom a considerable legacy of cultural heritage would still be obscure and inaccessible.

ARCE’s USAID-funded conservation projects in which Luigi played a key role are: St. Anthony’s Church, St. Anthony’s Monastery: 1996 – 1999. The Cave Church of St. Paul, St. Paul’s Monastery: 2001 – 2005. Paintings from the Monasteries of Apa Jeremias at Saqqara and Apa Apollo at Bawit now in the Coptic Museum: 2004 – 2006. Roman wall paintings in Luxor Temple: 2005 – 2008. Church of Abu Serga at Old Cairo: 2005. Wall paintings from the temple of Amunhotep III at Wadi Al-Sabua‘ now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo: 2008 – 2009. Monastery of St. Matthew the Potter near Esna: 2010. White Monastery, Sohag: started in 2006. Red Monastery near Sohag: started in 2002.

Luigi was one of those larger than life characters for whom no job was too big. It is hard, therefore, to write a fitting tribute in just a few words that includes all the qualities we remember him for. A longer appreciation of his association with ARCE and our partners in Egypt is planned for the next edition of the ARCE Bulletin.

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