Museo San Marco recently unveiled its newest restoration: Fra Angelico’s 1442 fresco Crucifixion and Saints, which was restored through a gift from the non-profit organization Friends of Florence.
The Crucifixion has undergone two restorations in recent times. The first was completed between 1967 and 1974 by Giacomo Dini, who employed a ground-breaking restoration technique that allowed the artwork to remain attached to the wall. Previously, the standard procedure, the strappo method, involved detaching the work from the wall, often resulting in damage. Although Dini’s efforts withstood nearly 40 years, bleaching, maculation and dust deposits led to another round of restoration.
Extensive research preceded the recent project, begun in 2013, to identify the causes and extent of the deterioration. When studies indicated that dusting and light cleaning with water would not be sufficient to address the variety and complexity of the fresco’s problems, it was determined that the work, once again under Dini’s leadership, would focus on specific points of major decay: the gilded and previously retouched areas and the saints’ clothing just right of the crucifix. Extensive cleaning and chemical treatments have improved the fresco’s ‘legibility,’ additionally reviving the intensity of colour typical of Fra Angelico’s work.