Leonardo da Vinci: The Restoration of the Century

The restoration of Leonardo da Vinci final masterpiece, ‘The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne’ was completed and exhibited in the Louvre in March 2012. Viewers and critics were astounded by its new life and luminosity, allowing details to be seen again for the first time in 500 years. Nevertheless, the pain-staking restoration process caused ructions and controversy amongst the panel of international experts and the restorer chosen to undertake the work.


 

Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Virgin and Child with Saint Anne’ had already been disfigured by attempts at repairs when the controversial decision was made in 2009 to once again attempt a clean-up and refurbishing.


Complicating the decision was the fact that da Vinci had never finished the painting, but returned to it year after year to modify it. Could a restoration remain true to da Vinci’s intentions? Might the masterpiece be further damaged by trying to save it? And would the public accept a newly-bright version of a work they’d come to know as dark and mysterious?

This program goes behind the scenes of the Louvre’s three-year restoration project, showing the delicate operation being carried out even as experts debate its risks. Viewers learn about various refurbishing techniques with the help of animations and close-ups, and discover important details about da Vinci’s process with Virgin and Child that layers of grime had buried.

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