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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Outcry over da Vinci restoration plan
Leonardo's The Adoration Of the Magi
The Adoration Of the Magi is an unfinished work
More than 30 scholars of Renaissance art from the USA, Britain and Italy have signed a petition asking the Uffizi Gallery in Florence not to go ahead with a proposed restoration.

An un-named sponsor has emerged to finance the restoration of The Adoration Of The Magi, an unfinished work by the young Leonardo da Vinci.

The temptation for all restorers is to prettify and to introduce their own tastes and interpretations

Mike Daley, ArtWatch UK

The restoration would be the third major project the gallery has undertaken on works by Leonardo da Vinci.

But the petitioners say the painting, from 1482, is too fragile to undergo the work - and that a panel of international experts and connoisseurs should evaluate the proposed restoration first.

The petition is being organised by ArtWatch International, an organisation that monitors the treatment of art works world wide and which has protested about other restorations.

'Terrifying prospect'

Mike Daley of ArtWatch UK told BBC News Online the petition now has 38 signatures, including Britain's Sir Ernst Gombrich OM and Charles Hope of the Warburg Institute.

Daley described the idea of restoring Leonardo's Adoration as "a terrifying prospect" and said: "This is a great unfinished work, and the problem with all restorations is that all restorers have to make decisions about what stays and what goes.

"This is particularly difficult with an unfinished work.

"There's no conservation case for this - this is part of a fashion in Italy, sponsors are keen to be involved with restorations and restorers need the work."


Uffizi director Annamaria Petrioli Tofani told the New York Times she refuted the ArtWatch claims.

She said that the restoration was needed because of damage to the wood on which the painting was based, and the weakening adhesion of the paint itself.

The restoration by Alfio Del Serra would be going ahead within "a matter of days," she said.

Mike Daley said, "In our experience claims of damage are always used as a pretext for a major restoration.

"And the temptation for all restorers is to prettify and to introduce their own tastes and interpretations."

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