The Surprises of a Restoration - on Display, the Re-Discovered Mantegna

The Surprises of a Restoration - on Display, the Re-Discovered Mantegna
#Exhibitions

Restoring the Madonna con il Bambino by Mantegna to its original splendour was an arduous task for the restorers of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. But it was worth it - the painting revealed colours that nobody has been able to appreciate since, at least, 1863. Hence, the choice of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli to celebrate the return of the painting with a documented exhibition - video, images and informative panels retrace its history in the Salone dell’Affresco, bringing us behind the scenes of the work that brought the painting back to the majesty imbued upon it by the master artist. Transforming the painting from the original at the end of the XIX Century was painter Giuseppe Molteni, Director of the Accademia di Brera and highly requested restorer, with works executed for the Louvre and the British Museum. They were the times of “meliorative” restorations and Molteni worked at adapting the painting to the tastes of the 1800s - he added gold touches to the clothes of the Virgin, he lengthened the arms, altered the perspective, giving the impression that the scene took place in front of a window. Then he covered everything with a paint typical of oil painting, cancelling the contrasts of colour and the opaque effect that Mantegna loved in his “tempera magra”. Now the painting has been returned to its essence - an image of humble motherhood, intimate and tender, highlighted by the verses of the Song of Songs that the restorers uncovered at the bottom of the canvas.
Francesca Grego - © 2020 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel Milano