Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Dear Friends,
We are happy to announce the conclusion of the second Mircea Maria Gerard Fund project which ha seen the magnificent 18th century oil painting Nativity, by Francesco Gambacciani, lovingly conserved and restored by Nicholas Castelli and Natalia Materassi.  The Nativity was removed from its altar niche at the Basilica del Carmine in late October 2018 and transported to the labs of the Associazione Bastioni where conservation/restoration treatments where undertaken under the direction of project managers Daniela Murphy Corella ACR and Caterina Canetti. The entire project was approved and supervised by art historian Maria Maugeri from the Florentine Superintendency for Cultural Heritage.
The Nativity is now back at the Basilica del Carmine, standing before the Funeral of Saint Albert by B. Monaldi 1603, the first project adopted by the Fund in 2017.
Life and death now stand before each other under the Fund’s name, a reminder of the eternal cycle of life and how in its perfect beauty it spirals on, regardless of the starry universe called mankind.  
On the 5th of April 2019 we shall be holding a press conference for the Nativity project at the City Town Hall of Florence - Palazzo Vecchio, followed by an evening cocktail and brief presentation at the magnificent venue of Palazzo San Niccolò. A small commemorative plaque in memory of Mircea will be placed next to the Nativity painting. The plaque reads:

Restored by the Associazione Bastioni in loving memory of Mircea Maria (1976-2016)
My dear husband, daily you are a light in my, and all of our hearts.
Mircea Maria Gerard Fund

Hopefully many of the generous and kind donors who have contributed to our second project will be able to join us in Florence on the 5th-6th of April.

For those of you who are interested in knowing more about the technical execution of the conservation/restoration treatments and the criteria used to create the project, please visit the F. Gambacciani Page on the pages section of this site.

A heartfelt thank you to all the professionals who made this project possible.

Nativity by F. Gambacciani, before and after conservation and restoration treatments

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Luke Olbrich and Daniela Murphy Corella
during the press conference and inauguration of 
the Moladi pannel painting, Carmine Church,
 Florence, 7 October 2017
Dear Friends

Remarkably, it is now over two years since the Mircea Maria Gerard Fund was established in loving memory of my husband, Mircea. This fact brings with it mixed emotion, for me personally, as I consider life without someone with whom I shared most of his adult life for 16 magical years.   A constant sense of loss and sadness is mixed with a simple sense of joy from the beauty which the foundation has achieved in the projects undertaken in his memory, and in the works that continue to share their serene beauty and inspiration with millions of visitors to Florence every year.

As I look forward to the third year of the foundation, I’m inspired as I look back since April 2016 by what is simply the camaraderie and goodwill amongst the colleagues at the Bastioni Association, members of the Florentine art community and by you, the friends, family and donors, as we establish a lasting tribute to his memory.

One of the first projects was the reinstallation of the Putti fountain “Putto with Dolphin” which was Mircea’s last restoration work, which now continues to delight with its silent, smooth waters flowing again, back in place in the Piazza della Signoria, and looking as beautiful as in 1500s when it was first installed. 

The bronze statue is situated on the summit of a beautiful 16th-century Carrara marble and porphyry stone fountain. This fountain is the main feature of the prestigious Michelozzo courtyard at Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Florence. The Mircea Maria Gerard Fund is currently supporting the City Town Hall of Florence, who commissioned the conservation/restoration campaign, in a long-term maintenance plan for the fountain in Mircea’s name. This support entails maintenance treatments to be carried out once a year for a cycle of three years on a renewable basis.

Following the work in the Piazza della Signoria, we kicked off a major restoration work in Q1 2017 involving the complete restoration of a massive panel painting in the Santa Maria del Carmine church. After painstaking work, all funded by the foundation, we unveiled the finished work in October 2017 at a press conference and event in the church and the cloister next door.  Videos describing conservation treatments are published on our Youtube Channel; from research and analysis, to scaffolding and dismounting of the work, to the painstaking procedures undertaken for months to bring this beautiful work back to all of its glory.

In addition to practical restoration projects, we have determined that it would be important to balance out the small efforts undertaken in by also supporting students of conservation, in order to ensure that the skills and knowledge required to maintain and restore our art heritage is passed along and secured for future generations.

As a result, in 2016 and again in 2017 we provided stipends to seven students to cover costs required to attend the Italian branch of the International Conservation and Restoration societies’ annual conference in Italy Lo Stato dell’Arte 2016 – State of the Arts 2017.  

As I join my friends and colleagues in Florence this month to scope out new projects, we have already scheduled another major restoration work in the Chiesa del Carmine, directly across from the now restored Death of St Albert panel painting, and will begin work on restoration of the 19th century oil painting of the birth of Christ by Gambacanni.  A wonderful circle of continuity, respecting both death and new life.

On a personal note I would like to add how important this fund is, not just in terms of keeping the memory of our beloved Mircea alive; his work, his creativity, his enthusiasm for a profession that delves into the past to reclaim a better understanding of our present, but because contributing to the fund means sustaining our artistic heritage, our past, the ground roots of what we are today and what we can become tomorrow.

We will continue also to provide funds for art restoration students to support them in developing their skills to continue the work in maintaining our shared cultural heritage.

Many of you have taken the opportunity over the last year to visit the Carmine restoration site, as well as the Bastioni restoration workshop.  Do please come and visit, and also provide whatever you can to off-set the costs of the Gambacanni Nativity painting restoration, which will be approximately 40,000 euros. Any amount is very much needed and appreciated.

All the best

Luke Olbrich

Friday, 15 April 2016


The Mircea Maria Gerard Fund for the Conservation and Restoration of Art Works is currently being established by Mircea’s beloved spouse, Luke P Olbrich and by the board of directors of the registered non-profit organization Bastioni, Association for the research and study of art works, Florence, Italy.  
Mircea embraced his new career choice as conservator and restorer of art works with outstanding passion, wisdom and grace. The last two years saw Mircea as an active member of the Association Bastioni, bestowing its members with his refreshing enthusiasm, curiosity and intelligence.
His legacy will not be forgotten.
The Mircea Maria Gerard Fund will develop conservation and restoration projects, finance internships and promote career development projects for young students.

Presidente of Bastioni, associazione per la ricerca e lo studio di opere d’arte, Firenze
Daniela Murphy Corella
Florence, 15 Aprile 2016
Those of you who wish to contribute may do so by sending funds to the following account:

Account Name: Associazione Bastioni
Reason for Payment: Mircea Maria Gerard Fund
Bank: Credem Credito Emiliano, agenzia 4
Address: Viale de Amicis 67  
50137 Firenze
Swift/ BACRIT21144 IBAN:  IT 05 K 03032 02803 010000000558

or by using Paypal services below;


For inquiries or further information please contact Daniela Murphy Corella at the following address: mircea.maria.gerard.fund@gmail.com or call her at 0039 3394445965