Michelangelo's 'David' emerges from the bath

Last summer a row erupted in Florence over the right way to clean Michelangelo's
David, possibly the most famous sculpture in the world.

Last summer a row erupted in Florence over the right way to clean Michelangelo's David, possibly the most famous sculpture in the world.

Yesterday, four months before his 500th birthday, the 16ft marble man emerged from his controversial bath, still streaked with the more stubborn stains accumulated during his 350 years spent in the open, but looking "more fluid, more consistent, more harmonious", according to curator Antonio Paolucci.

Italy's top sculpture restorer resigned in a huff last year when her "dry cleaning" approach to restoring the statue was scorned. International art historians demanded that nothing be done to the 16th-century masterpiece until a consensus was reached on the right way to do it. But the gallery authorities pressed ahead, and yesterday unveiled the result. "The David is exactly as we have always seen it. Its colour has not changed," said Mr Paolucci, superintendent of the Polo Museale Fiorentino, "Only someone with expert knowledge and a thorough and long familiarity with the 'skin' of the statue will be aware that certain aesthetically unattractive regularities are no longer there, that the accumulations of ingrained dirt have vanished, that everything today looks more fluid, more consistent, more harmonious."

The original restorer on the project, Agnese Parronchi, wanted to use only very small, very soft badger-hair brushes, cotton buds, rubber erasers and chamois cloths to ease off the grime that had accumulated since David's last clean-up, a bracing douche of hydrochloric acid in 1843.

But Ms Parronchi's method, it was said, could merely drive the grime further inside the marble's pores. Her bosses wanted her to use a newer, wet approach, by which distilled water and a compress of cellulose pulp and meerschaum clay are applied to parts of the statue through a sheet of rice paper, to gently soak out the dirt.

"If I use that method I'll end up with a hunk of marble in the shape of David," Ms Parronchi retorted, and took her tiny brushes elsewhere.

Ms Parronchi's position was supported byArtWatch International, which has campaigned against many recent efforts of what it calls "the restoration industry", including Leonardo's Last Supper and Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, which have emerged startlingly brighter than before.

The founder of the group, James Beck, a Michelangelo expert who is professor of art history at Columbia University, said that David simply didn't need cleaning. "It's total cultural arrogance from the Florentine authorities," he said "The statue's skin should be allowed to age, almost organically. Instead, they are homogenising it."

But the Florence authorities ignored the protests and appointed another restorer, Cinzia Parnigoni, to do the job.

Yesterday the strain was clearly telling on Ms Parnigoni, who was close to tears during the presentation. "I have felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders," she said. "It wasn't always easy to find the inner strength to carry out the restoration, but I felt the spirit of Michelangelo himself at my side."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star