Da Vinci restoration ignites row

2012-01-23 12:19

Paris – Delicate work to restore a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece has turned into a headache for the Louvre.

Da Vinci began painting “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” in 1503 and when he died in France in 1519 the unfinished work, depicting Christ beside his mother and grandmother with a sacrificial lamb, was acquired by King Francis I.

Restoration carried out in the past century left the “Saint Anne” disfigured by stains, on the Virgin’s dress for instance, due to the ageing of a substance in the varnish and last year the museum decided to restore the work once more.

The Saint Anne is to be unveiled to the public in March as the highlight of a major exhibition built around it.

But the project hit a rock as critics warned that cleaning could damage the masterpiece, and two experts have since resigned in protest from the advisory committee set up to oversee the work.

Both are art world heavyweights: Segolene Bergeon Langle, who left in December, is a French national heritage curator, while Jean-Pierre Cuzin who left earlier is former chief curator of the Louvre’s painting department.

A French arts journal first sounded the alarm in October with an article entitled Leonardo in danger.

At stake was the type of solvent used to dissolve the yellow-brown coat of varnish covering the painting, deemed too harsh by critics who fear it could remove the actual paint.

Experts especially feared damage to the faces of Saint Anne and the Virgin Mary, and more broadly to the sfumato – layers of clear paint used by Da Vinci to produce smoky, softened contours, on this work as on the Mona Lisa.

Bergeon Langle said she left the advisory committee for several reasons.

“I deemed that the restoration was not being carried out in line with what I imagined was necessary for this Louvre painting. That is my firm belief.”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.