FaithWorld

Santa Croce fresco restoration like “looking angels in the eye”

(Santa Croce Church is seen in Florence February 26, 2010. Restorers using ultra-violet rays have rediscovered rich original details of Giotto's paintings in the Peruzzi Chapel in Florence's Santa Croce church that have been hidden for centuries. The aim of the study, partly funded by a grant from the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, was to gather information on the 170 square metre (1,830 square feet) chapel to use as a road map and "hospital chart" for a future restoration. Picture taken February 26, 2010. To match EXCLUSIVE: ARTS-ITALY/GIOTTO REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

(Santa Croce Basilica in Florence, Italy, February 26, 2010/Alessandro Bianchi )

For lovers of Italian art, it’s as close as you can come to ascending a stairway to heaven and looking angels in the eye. For the first time after a major restoration, the scaffolding that has shrouded the 850 sq m (9,150 sq ft) of frescoes of the Capella Maggiore in Florence’s famed Santa Croce Basilica will not be dismantled immediately.

Instead, for about a year, a small number of visitors will be able to don hard hats and clamber up the clanking steps to admire the 600-year-old frescos of Agnolo Gaddi, the last major “descendant” of the Giotto school, from close up. (Scaffolding shroud the 600-year-old frescoes of the Capella Maggiore in the Florence's Santa Croce Basilica April 7, 2011. For the first time after a major restoration, the scaffolding that has shrouded the 850 sq m (9,150 sq ft) of frescoes of the Capella Maggiore will not be dismantled immediately, and for about a year, a small number of visitors will be able to don hard hats and clamber up the clanking steps to admire the 600-year-old frescos of Agnolo Gaddi, the last major "descendant" of the Giotto school, from close up. Picture taken April 7, 2011. REUTERS/ Alessandro Bianchi)

(Scaffolding shroud the 600-year-old frescoes of the Capella Maggiore in the Florence's Santa Croce Basilica April 7, 2011/ Alessandro Bianchi)

“Climbing up the scaffolding and standing in precisely the same spot where the artist stood is a bit like travelling in a time machine,” said Alberto Felici, one of the team that spent five years restoring the frescoes. “You can re-live the emotions and the atmosphere that the painter experienced 600 years ago,” he said, speaking some 30 m (90 ft) above the basilica’s ground floor.

Roman archaeologists find oldest images of Apostles in a catacomb

apostles 4 (Photo: Professor Fabrizio Bisconti shows the image of an unidentified person on the ceiling of the catacomb chamber, with the four portraits of Apostles in circles in the corners of the ceiling, 22 June 2010/Tony Gentile)

Archaeologists and art restorers using new laser technology have discovered what they believe are the oldest paintings of the faces of Jesus Christ’s Apostles.  The images in a branch of the catacombs of St Tecla near St Paul’s Basilica, just outside the walls of ancient Rome, were painted at the end of the 4th century or the start of the 5th century.

Archaeologists believe these images may have been among those that most influenced later artists’ depictions of the faces of Christ’s most important early followers.  “These are the first images that we know of the faces of these four Apostles,” said Professor Fabrizio Bisconti, the head of archaeology for Rome’s numerous catacombs, which are owned and maintained by the Vatican.

The full-face icons include visages of St Peter, St Andrew, and St John, who were among Jesus’ original 12 Apostles, and St Paul, who became an Apostle after Christ’s death.