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Cimabue’s St. Francis fresco shines anew after restoration sponsored by Ferrari

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Wolfgang RADTKE/KNA-Bild/CIRIC

Daniel Esparza - published on 02/21/24

A landmark 13th-century fresco by the Florentine painter Cimabue, one of the earliest depictions of St. Francis, has been brought back to life after a year-long restoration project

A landmark 13th-century fresco by the Florentine painter Cimabue, one of the earliest depictions of St. Francis, has been brought back to life after a year-long restoration project. As Anya Smirnova reports for Artsy, the painstaking work, led by the Spoleto-based firm Tecnireco, revealed details that had been obscured for decades.

Housed in the lower church of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the “Madonna Enthroned with the Child, Four Angels and St. Francis” (also known as the Maestà di Assisi) dates from 1285-1288. It depicts the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus flanked by angels, with St. Francis kneeling nearby.

Cimabue, a pioneer of the Italian proto-Renaissance style, was the mentor of Giotto, whose own frescoes in the basilica were also restored by Tecnireco between 2019 and 2021.

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Housed in the lower church of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the “Madonna Enthroned with the Child, Four Angels and St. Francis” (also known as the Maestà di Assisi) dates from 1285-1288.

Previously restored in 1973, the Maestà di Assisi had weathered time and even a devastating earthquake in 1997. Under the direction of chief conservator Sergio Fusetti, the latest project painstakingly removed overpaint and 1970s compounds that had dulled the fresco’s vibrant colors. Using pigments identified through technical analysis, the team meticulously recreated the original palette, as Artnet reports.

From luxury cars to art

Ferrari, the Italian luxury car manufacturer, stepped forward as the sole sponsor, contributing with €300,000 to cover for the whole project. This is the company’sfirst foray into cultural restoration, as they see an obvious connection between the brand and Italy’s artistic heritage. “The world of luxury that Ferrari inhabits is closely linked to art and culture, so it was natural for us to play our part in preserving an Italian masterpiece,” said CEO Benedetto Vigna in a statement last year.

This is good news for the restoration scene, always in need of further funding.

The restored masterpiece was unveiled to the public on Friday, February 16, 2024, at a press conference in the lower church of the Basilica of St. Francis.

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