Giovanni Verri - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Giovanni Verri

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Dr Giovanni Verri

Reader in Buddhist Art and its Conservation

Giovanni Verri graduated in Physics from the University of Ferrara, Italy, with a dissertation on technical imaging applied to paintings and he completed a PhD at the same institution with a dissertation on Nuclear Activation Analysis.

Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, where he studied prehistoric flint tools using a particle accelerator, Giovanni collaborated with the Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, US, on a project entitled Organic Materials in Wall Paintings. This project aimed to deepen the present understanding of the use of organic materials in wall paintings by means of scientific investigations.

While working on this project, he became interested in conservation-related issues. He then decided to study for a Masters in Conservation of Wall Painting at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where he worked on the Buddhist wall paintings in Mogao, Dunhuang, China. He completed the course in 2007 and in the same year was appointed a Mellon Fellow at the British Museum, where he developed multispectral imaging for the conservation of artistic and archaeological materials. Special attention was given to the development and implementation of visible-induced luminescence digital photography, a novel technology for the non-invasive identification of Egyptian blue, Han blue and Han purple. Using visible-induced luminescence imaging, it was possible to prove, for the first time, that the frieze and the pedimental sculptures of the Parthenon at the British Museum were originally painted using Egyptian blue.
He applied the same imaging technique on several artworks, including Han terracotta beads at the British Museum, the sarcophagus of Seti I at the Sir John Soane’s Museum; the wall paintings in the Tomb of Tutankhamen, as part of a project coordinated by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Egyptian Antiquity Authority; the tomb paintings of Nebamum; the Mausoleum at Halykarnassos, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos at the British Museum; the Acropolis Monuments, the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and the Royal Tombs in Vergina, Greece.

Building on his practical conservation experience in Mogao, Giovanni coordinates the MA Buddhist Art: History and Conservation in collaboration with SOAS. Generously funded by an endowment by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation of Hong Kong, the programme combines the separate studies of Buddhism, Buddhist art and its conservation.

The one-year MA includes teaching and research in the three principal areas of Buddhist studies, Buddhist art history, and conservation theory and approaches. Taught by a wide range of distinguished professionals, the programme also includes extended visits to important Buddhist sites and collections for first-hand study. A research dissertation allows eight students to explore subjects of particular interest. The MA leads to careers or further study in conservation, art history, site management, curating, and Buddhist studies.

Teaching 2017-18

  • MA Buddhist Art: History and Conservation
  • MA Conservation of Wall Painting

PhD Supervision


  • Elisabeth Woolley, ‘Victorian mural painting: revivalist art, revolutionary technology’
  • Sreekumar Menon, ‘Early Period Buddhist Wall Paintings of Ladakh form the 11th to the Early 13th Century: Materials, Techniques and Conservation Implications’
  • Yeon Joo (Amanda) Hahn, ‘Buddhist Temple Wall Paintings in South Korea: A Conservation Assessment’ (co-supervised with Professor Antony Eastmond)
  • Lan Pu, ‘Connections in the Making and Meaning of the Art of Bhutan and Tibet in the 17th and 18th Centuries: a Study of the Wall Paintings of Tango Monastery’ (co-supervised with Dr Christian Luczanits)
  • Sanjay Dhar, ‘Assessing and Managing Risks to Buddhist Wall Paintings in Ladakh’

Research interests

  • Multispectral Imaging
  • Technical analysis of painted surfaces
  • Ancient Greek and Roman polychromy / painted sculpture
  • Buddhist art and its conservation

Recent publications

Essays, articles and reviews

  • Verri, M. Gleba, J. Swaddling, T. Long, J. Ambers and T. Munden, ‘Etruscan women’s clothing and its decoration: the polychrome gypsum statue from the ‘Isis Tomb’ at Vulci’, The British Museum Technical Bulletin, 8 2014, 59-72
  • Verri and D. Saunders, ‘Xenon flash for reflectance and luminescence (multispectral) imaging in cultural heritage applications’, The British Museum Technical Bulletin, 8 2014, 83-92
  • Verri, T. Opper and L. Lazzarini, ‘In picturae modum variata circumlitio? The reconstruction of the polychromy of a Roman ideal female head (Treu Head)’, in Diversamente Bianco, la policromia della scultura Romana, P. Liverani and U. Santamaria (eds), Edizioni Quasar, Roma 2014, 149-183
  • Accorsi, G. Verri, A. Acocella, F. Zerbetto, G. Lerario, G. Gigli, D. Saunders and R. Billinge, “Imaging, photophysical properties and DFT calculations of manganese blue (barium manganate(vi) sulphate) – a modern pigment”, Chemical Communications, The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Royal Society of Chemistry 2014, 50(97) 15297-300 doi 10.1039/C4CC01986E
  • Brecoulaki, G. Kavvadias and G. Verri, ‘Colour and Luxury. Three Classical Painted Marble Pyxides from the Collection of the National Archaeological Museum, Athens’, in J.S. Østergaard – A.M. Nielsen (eds.), Transformations: Classical Sculpture in Colour, Copenhagen 2014, 152-165
  • Sugiyama, T. Clark, J. Ambers and G. Verri, ‘The study and conservation of the silk painting Death of the Buddha’, The British Museum Technical Bulletin, 8 2014, 39-58
  • Ambers, C.R. Cartwright, C. Higgitt, D. Hook, E. Passmore, St J. Simpson, G. Verri, C. Ward and B. Wills, Looted, Recovered, Returned: Antiquities from Afghanistan (A detailed scientific and conservation record of a group of ivory and bone furniture overlays excavated at Begram, stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan, privately acquired on behalf of Kabul, analysed and conserved at the British Museum and returned to the National Museum of Afghanistan in 2012), 2014, Archaeopress: Oxford
  • Pagès-Camagna and L. Laugier – Avec les contributions de Ph. et A. Blanc, E. Lambert, A. Maigret, J. Marsac and G. Verri, ‘La Victoire sous l’œil des scientifiques’, in La Victoire de Samothrace, Redécouvrir un chef-d’œuvre, J.-L. Martinez, L. Laugier and M. Hamiaux (eds), Coédition musée du Louvre / Somogy éditions d’Art 2014, 90-103
  • Dyer, G. Verri and J. Cupitt, ‘Multispectral Imaging in Reflectance and Photo-induced Luminescence modes: a User Manual‘, European CHARISMA Project, published online 2013
  • Verri, ‘Visible-induced luminescence (VIL) imaging for the non-invasive characterisation of Egyptian blue: the case of an ancient Greek painted marble basin’, accepted for publication within the framework of the NARNIA European Project 2014
  • Parodi and G. Verri, ‘Infrared reflectography of the Mughal painting Princes of the House of Timur’, accepted for publication in the Journal of Islamic Manuscripts, 2013
  • Verri, M. Kalaitzi, ‘The painted stelae from Aigai (Vergina), Macedonia: New finding on the distribution of pigments and aspects of their Iconography’, to be published in the proceedings of the conference held at the New Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
  • Brecoulaki, A. Kottaridi, G. Verri, A. Karydas, S. Sotiropoulou, L. Lazzarini, M. P. Colombini, A Andreotti, Z. Papliaka, J. Dyer and G. Georgiou, ‘A new technological investigation on two exceptional painted marble artifacts of the late Classical period: The sarcophagus from tomb 128 at Kition (Cyprus) and the marble throne from the “Tomb of Eurydice” at Aigai’, to be published in the proceedings of the conference held at the New Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
  • G. Franzti, A. M. Maridaki, E. Ch. Papakonstantinou, G. Verri, S. Sotiropoulou and H. Brecoulaki, ‘The revelation of the decorative pattern of the coffered ceiling on the porch of the maidens in the Erechteion’, to be published in the proceedings of the conference held at the New Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
  • Stacey, C. Cartwright, G. Verri and C. McEwan, ‘An integrated approach to understanding the selection and fate of turquoise on Mexican mosaics in the British Museum’, in Turquoise in Mexico and North America: Science, Conservation, Culture and Collections, J.C.H. King, Max Carocci, Caroline Cartwright, Colin McEwan, Rebecca Stacey (eds), Archetype, London 2012, 55-64
  • Namdar, G. Verri, R. J. Stacey, A. Middleton and St J. Simpson, ‘A New Application of Fiber-Optic Reflection Spectroscopy (FORS): Characterization of Low-Temperature Alteration of Chlorite Schist and Implications for Understanding Ancient Stone Cooking Vessels’, Soc Applied Spectroscopy, 65, 1, 2011, 43-51
  • Verri, D. Saunders, J. Ambers and T. Sweek, ‘Digital mapping of Egyptian blue: conservation implications’, Conservation and the Eastern Mediterranean: Contributions to the 2010 IIC Congress, Istanbul 2010, 220-224
  • Verri, T. Opper and T. Deviese, ‘The ‘Treu Head’: a case study in Roman sculptural polychromy’, The British Museum Technical Bulletin, 4, 2010, 39-54
  • Smirnou, G. Verri, P. Roberts, A. Meek and M. Spataro, ‘Investigating the construction methods of an opus vermiculatum mosaic panel’, The British Museum Technical Bulletin, 4 2010, 67-78
  • Namdar, G. Verri, R. J Stacey, A. Middleton and St J. Simpson, ‘A New Application of Fiber-Optic Reflection Spectroscopy (FORS): Characterization of Low-Temperature Alteration of Chlorite Schist and Implications for Understanding Ancient Stone Cooking Vessels’, Appl Spec 65(1) 2010, 43-51
  • Verri, S. Tanimoto and C. Higgitt, ‘Inks and washes’ in Italian Renaissance Drawings, Technical Examination and Analysis, Archetype, London, 2010, 57-76
  • Verri and J. Ambers, ‘Revealing stratigraphy’ in Italian Renaissance Drawings, Technical Examination and Analysis, Archetype, London, 2010, 89-102

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