‘Leonardo da Vinci’s Magic Cosmos: the restored Adoration of the Magi’

After 5 years of restoration the artwork showing ‘behind the scenes’ aspetcs of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting, is back at the Uffizi

From 28 March 2017 to 24 September 2017

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After a 5-year restoration effort by the experts of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, 'The Adoration of the Magi' by Leonardo da Vinci is on show again. Since 28th March, 2017, it has been displayed as part of an exhibition housed at the Uffizi Gallery dedicated to the painstaking restoration and entitled ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Magic Cosmos: the restored Adoration of the Magi’, which will run until 24th September, 2017. In addition to Leonardo Da Vinci artwork, the exhibition includes the Adoration of the Magi by Filippino Lippi and a series of videos and images that present several aspects of the restoration carried out on what is one of Leonardo Da Vinci most famous works.

Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi was commissioned by the monks of San Donato in 1481 when Leonardo da Vinci was in his younger years. When a year later he moved to Milan, Leonardo’s painting was in fact left unfinished. The monks later resorted to commission Filippino Lippi to paint a drawing with the same theme. Leonardo had made a series of preparatory drawings for the Adorazione dei Magi. One of them, showing the general composition, is housed at Cabinet de Dessins de Louvre while another, delving on the background details, is at the Uffizi Drawings and Prints Cabinet. The unfinished Leonardo Da Vinci drawing remained in Amerigo dei Benci’s house, where Leonardo had painted a portrait of the daughter, until Vasari noticed it. After being among the works of Don Antonio Medici’s collection, it was finally annexed to the Florentine Galleries. The painting was then moved to Villa di Castello and it seems that during the move its frame went missing. In 1794 it was returned to the Uffizi where it has been housed to the present day. 'The Adoration of the Magi' is one of Leonardo Da Vinci paintings best suited to discover important aspects Leonardo da Vinci art style. One of these is certainly the way in which the master prepared the painting using a neat design devoid of sharp lines and with soft shapes instead. He continued this sketch by evidencing the dark tones and highlighting the subjects he intended to brighten up. Still with the intention of representing light at its best, he used a series of paints and glazes with which he wonderfully amalgamated the whole composition.

Unfortunately, in 2011 it was found that the inexorable passage of time had turned the colours of Leonardo Adorazione Magi into a collection of dark tones, devoid of details and difficult to distinguish. The decision was taken to subject the Adorazione dei Magi by Leonardo to restoration work that could bring back the ancient brightness of its colours. All this was made possible thanks to a donation of 180,000 Euros from the Friends of the Uffizi, the non-profit organization that raises funds to enhance and preserve the works of the Museum. The 'resurrection' of the unfinished painting could only be entrusted to the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the historic institution established by Ferdinando I de 'Medici for the conservation of heritage. The Adorazione dei Magi by Leonardo was entrusted to the 'skilled hands' of a team of specialists led by Roberto Bellucci and Patrizia Riitano supervised by Cecilia Frosinini and the head of the Opificio Marco Ciatti. Like every other 'sick person' the painting first underwent a series of scrupulous diagnostic tests, some of which were carried with futuristic tools, as in the case of an infrared instrument capable, thanks to its varying wavelengths, of detecting and separating up to 15 paint layers. The actual restoration work consisted in the removal of the deposits formed over time on the canvas and in the reconstruction of the wooden support, showing worrying signs of damage caused by slits that were repaired with microsurgery-like procedures. At the end of the 5 and a half year restoration work, Adorazione Magi Leonardo can once again reveal all its original colours: the soft-blue sky, the fair-coloured skin of the faces and the typical 'sfumato' background: in addition to the colours, the restoration has revealed how the painting was a kind of test case for Leonardo da Vinci. Paintings he later made, in fact, show some features already present in the one commissioned by the San Donato Friars. In particular, the 'battle of horses' that can be seen on the right is unmistakably linked to what we know of the missing 'Battle of Anghiari', the head of an old man in the centre resembles that of 'St Jerome' while the reflections of the water at Mary’s feet are a reminder of those of the 'Virgin of the Rocks'.

The exhibition at the Uffizi in Florence displaying the painting by Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly one of the most interesting ones in Florence over the spring and oncoming summer and surely one not to be missed. The Uffizi exhibition includes, besides Leoanardo’s Magi Adoration as it is today, a real-size reproduction of the painting as it was before the restoration. An interesting video will accompany the visitor through the various stages of the restoration with footage showing the diagnostic tests performed. In the same room, visitors will also be able to admire the work focused on the same subject painted by Filippino Lippi. At the end of the exhibition, as announced by the director of the Museum Eike Schmidt, Leonardo da Vinci famous artwork will continue to be shown in the Uffizi Leonardo Room, located on the second floor. Leonardo da Vinci’s painting will be juxtaposed to other Leonardo da Vinci famous works such as 'Baptism of Christ' and 'The Annunciation'

The comeback  of the Adoration of the Magi at the Uffizi is a wonderful opportunity to discover in Florence the art of one of the most famous Tuscan personalities of all time. Not forgetting that Uffizi exhibitions are a great excuse to visit also the rest of the Museum, which is undoubtedly one of the most important in Italy. If you do not want to lose your way amongst paintings and sculptures, take the opportunity to book one of our tours in Florence choosing amongst those that will accompany you in this treasure chest of works of art:

All is left for you to do is booking a nice weekend in the fantastic lilied city taking advantage of the fact that ‘Leonardo da Vinci’s Magic Cosmos: the restored Adoration of the Magi will be on show during the warmer months. We are confident that you will find the accommodation that best suits your needs in one of the hotels in Florence. Have fun!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff