Postcard from... Florence


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The Independent Online

A masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci has revealed new details and symbolism following a major restoration by experts  in Florence.

The Adoration of the Magi, painted in 1481, is being studied and cleaned by a restorers at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, a leading art research and conservation institute, in a painstaking three-year process.

This early, experimental painting by Leonardo shows the Virgin Mary and Child surrounded by the Magi and various other figures, including what may be a self-portrait of the young artist.

With the removal of grime from the unfinished work, which measures over six square metres, much greater perspective is apparent in the oil-on-wood painting, and the expressions on the faces of the human figures have become clearer. Cristina Acidini, superintendent for the Museums of the City of Florence, said: “It’s a decisive contribution to the advancement of our knowledge of the painting, with regard to both the materials and their different layering, and its original execution.”

Marco Ciatti, superintendent of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, said that the restoration had also revealed new symbolism in the painting: “The restoration has shown that Leonardo is trying to express the importance of all humanity, not only the historical figures in  the painting.”

Mr Ciatti hopes that the restoration will be complete by the end of 2015, when the painting would be returned to the city’s Uffizi Gallery.