Monday, June 7, 2010

Rescue Mission: Saving Vasari’s “Last Supper” 45 Years After a Flood

When the Arno River overflowed in 1966 and flooded Florence, Italy, an art apocalypse nearly took place in that grand Renaissance city. Countless works, including Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Doors of Paradise, Donatello’s Magdalene, and a crucifix by Giovanni Cimabue, sustained serious damage from water and mud. Almost 45 years later, the rescue mission continues as conservation technology advances to a point at which it can finally restore some of these works to their original glory. Thanks to those advances, and to a €300,000 Getty Foundation grant awarded to Florence’s Opificio delle Pietre Dure e Laboratori di Restauro (OPD), Giorgio Vasari’s 1546 The Last Supper (detail shown) will undergo a 3-year resurrection to roll back the damage those rising floodwaters once caused. Vasari, author of the The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, from Cimabue to Our Times and the original conservator of art history through his writing, finds his work the subject of one of the great conservation efforts in art history. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Rescue Mission."