FLORENCE.- Experts announced that the Raphael masterpiece "Madonna of the Goldfinch" that survived the collapse of a palace and centuries of decay is ready after a ten year restoration process. It will be returned to the Uffizi gallery with a strengthened canvas and colors restored to their original radiance.
Raphael painted this work around 1505 for the wedding of his friend Lorenzo Nasi, a rich merchant in Florence. When Nasis palace collapsed in 1548, the painting was shredded into 17 pieces. The work was first put together with pieces of wood and long nails. The work later developed a yellowish opaque color. Restores feared touching it because it was very fragile.
Chief restorer Patrizia Riitano stated, "The cleaning brought to light some details that absolutely were not visible before. For example a few details in the background, some plants, we did not even suspect they existed. I think I know this painting now better than the painter.
The painting features a seated Mary with John the Baptist passing on a goldfinch to Jesus as a forewarning of his violent death. The bird has been associated in art with Christ's crucifixion.
The restoration work began in 1999 using X-rays, microscopes, and lasers to find and seal the ancient fractures. The work is known in Italian as the "Madonna del Cardellino," and will be on view at Florence's Palazzo Medici-Riccardi from November 23 to March 1 in a temporary exhibition and will then go back to the Uffizi.