Sunday, October 22, 2006

Florentine Art Treasures - Still in storage

From the Telegraph:
Art restorers in Italy have launched a desperate appeal for money to help rescue hundreds of works of art still caked in mud from devastating floods in Florence 40 years ago.
The frescoes, paintings, statues and wooden crosses, some dating back to the Renaissance, are lying in crates in cavernous storerooms across Tuscany.
They have been untouched since they were rescued from galleries and churches in Florence in 1966, after water from the River Arno swept through the city. But a funding crisis means that many of the masterpieces may not be restored to their original condition for another 40 years. Bruno Santi, director of fine art at Florence's Palazzo Pitti, who is in charge of the restoration work, told The Sunday Telegraph that the situation was a "scandal".
The Sunday Telegraph was shown around the laboratory of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, an art institute where restoration work on one painting – Giorgio Vasari's famous five-panelled Ultima Cena (Last Supper) — has only just begun.
When the flood swept through the city on November 4 1966, it killed 87 people and poured tons of mud into museums and churches, including the church of Santa Croce, where the Vasari work was stored. At the time the piece was covered in thin layers of paper and taped over it to protect it, but now it looks in a sorry state. Restorers must first -painstakingly rub away the paper, which has become encrusted on to the canvas, before they can begin cleaning the priceless images of Jesus and the disciples.

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