Louvre’s restoration ignites art world row
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
The restoration work has turned into a headache for Louvre. Experts accused the museum of putting the work at risk.Delicate work to restore a Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece, to be unveiled in March, has turned into a headache for the Louvre, after experts accused the Paris museum of putting the precious oil work at risk.
Da Vinci began painting “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” in 1503 and when he died in France in 1519 the unfinished work, depicting Christ beside his mother and grandmother with a sacrificial lamb, was acquired by King Francis I.
Restoration carried out in the past century left the “Saint Anne” disfigured by stains, on the Virgin’s dress for instance, due to the ageing of a substance in the varnish and in 2010 the museum decided to restore the work once more.
The “Saint Anne” is to be unveiled to the public in March as the highlight of a major exhibition built around it.
But the project hit a rock last autumn as critics warned that cleaning could damage the masterpiece, and two experts have since resigned in protest from the advisory committee set up to oversee the work.
Both are art world heavyweights: Segolene Bergeon Langle, who left in December, is a French national heritage curator, while Jean-Pierre Cuzin who left in the autumn is former chief curator of the Louvre’s painting department.
A French arts journal first sounded the alarm in October with an article entitled “Leonard in danger”.