The female nude painted by Artemisia Gentileschi to decorate the ceiling of the Buonarroti Palace-Museum in Florence (center), censored with veils painted on the original figure at the end of the 17th century, will be rediscovered and exhibited to the public thanks to a restoration that “will restore the dignity” to the painting of the Italian artist .
The “Allegory of the inclination”, which initially showed a completely nude woman holding a compass, was completed in 1616, when Gentileschi, one of the most recognized artists of the Baroque, who managed to impose her talent in a society practically closed to women , I was 22 years old.
Seven decades after it was painted, the work was censored by the then owner of the Buonarroti palace, to “protect the decorum and modesty of his wife and children ,” the coordinator of the restoration project, Linda Falcone, explained to Agencia Efe.Detail of the work on the work of Artemisia Gentileschi.
The painting, which has been taken down from its original location to be restored, is undergoing a complex analysis process using infrared, reflectology, X-rays and multispectral images , with the aim of recreating a digital image of the original and without censorship: ” We intend to digitally restore the painting as Artemisia created it. The added layers of paint will not be removed, but through science we will be able to see the artist’s original vision,” Falcone explained.
In this way, two versions of the work can be seen : the restored oil on canvas with the added veils and a digital reproduction of the original painted by Artemisia before being censored. The decision not to remove the veils in the restoration responds to the difficulty of removing this layer of paint without damaging the original painting and the desire of the team to maintain an element that is also “part of the history” of the work, according to the expert. . But not only the censorship clothing hid elements of the painting from the human eye: after removing the work from its usual location, a large area of Gentileschi’s painting was discovered that until then had been covered by the structure of the room.
“The painted surface of the painting extends several centimeters on each side below the architectural frame. It measures 23 centimeters wider and 6 centimeters tall,” the restoration team detailed.
The uncovered area, which had been hidden for centuries , was impregnated with a thick layer of a shellac-like material that was possibly used to protect the painting from moisture. During the restoration process, which will last until April 2023, visitors to the Buonarroti house can see first-hand how work is being done to recover the work thanks to the “Artemisia UpClose” initiative (Artemisia up close). .The “Allegory of the inclination”, which initially showed a totally nude woman holding a compass, was completed in 1616 .
“The public is following the entire process. We show everything from lowering the frame to diagnostic tests, including cleaning. It’s exciting for everyone involved,” Falcone acknowledged: “Restoration visible to the public highlights that museums are living places, with history, and that we can be part of it.”
“Artemisia UpClose” also works to give visibility to the figure of Gentileschi, who painted his Allegory while she was five months pregnant and who earned up to three times more than her male colleagues, explained the project.
Artemisia (1593-1656), daughter of the Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi , an exponent of the Roman school of Caravaggio, with whom he was a friend, is considered one of the great women artists in culture and rubbed shoulders with figures such as Galileo Galilei. The Buonarroti Palace was one of the residences where Michelangelo lived, considered one of the great geniuses of art history, and currently houses a museum dedicated to the figure of this artist.