Martelli Annunciation restored

Filippo Lippi masterpiece back on display in San Lorenzo

Editorial Staff
June 10, 2016 - 18:41

After an 18-month restoration, a Filippo Lippi work known as the Martelli Annunciation is back on display in the Basilica of San Lorenzo's Martelli Chapel. Carried out by Lucia Biondi (painting) and Roberto Buda (wooden supports) under the scientific direction of Monica Bietti, the restoration was made possible by nonprofit association Friends of Florence.


Filippo Lippi's Annunciation for the Cappella Martelli, newly restored Filippo Lippi's Annunciation (1439–40) in the Martelli Chapel, newly restored


Widely considered a masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, the tempera painting was completed for the chapel in the left transept of San Lorenzo, once known as the Cappella degli Operai and now called the Martelli Chapel, after the Florentine noble family. Precise details of the painting's commission are still unknown, however; to date, no documents about it have been uncovered. Most scholars date the work between 1439 and 1440, which would mean it was not a direct commission by Niccolò Martelli, family patriarch, who died in 1425. Numerous questions about both the commission and the painting's peculiar construction still abound, and will be the main topic of an academic conference planned for 2017, bringing together Filippo Lippi scholars from around the world. 

This restoration is Friends of Florence's first in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. The board first heard of the painting's urgent need for repair when it was submitted for candidacy for the 2012 Friends of Florence Prize, a 20 thousand euro restoration grant awarded at the Salone dell’arte e del Restauro di Firenze. Though the Martelli Annunciation was not selected, restorer Lucia Biondi was "tenacious," said Countess Simonetta Brandolini d'Adda, founder and president of Friends of Florence. "We met with Lucia, and she showed us how important it was that this beautiful painting be restored... it was really in peril," she explained.

The organization went on to find four major donors and followed each step of the project closely. Brandolini continued, "We hope to be able to do a summary of the restoration in print format or perhaps in digital format in the future, but for today, {we're celebrating seeing} this wonderful artwork finally restored."


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