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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 11:45 GMT
Gallery halts da Vinci restoration
Leonardo's The Adoration Of the Magi
The Adoration Of the Magi is an unfinished work
Florence's Uffizi gallery has abandoned plans to restore a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci after an international campaign against the restoration.

The Adoration of the Magi, an unfinished work by the young Leonardo, was to be restored after an un-named sponsor offered to finance the work.

We'd reached a point where the whole heritage of the world's art was fair game for restorers

Mike Daley, ArtWatch UK
But ArtWatch, an international watchdog dedicated to protecting works from what it regards as overzealous restorers, mounted a campaign against the proposal.

The ArtWatch campaign was supported by dozens of scholars of Renaissance art from the USA, Britain and Italy - including Sir Ernst Gombrich, the author of The Story of Art, who died on 3 November.


ArtWatch UK's director Mike Daley described the Uffizi decision as "very good news".

"It's particularly heartening for us so soon after the Louvre announced it was not going to restore the Mona Lisa," he told BBC News Online.

"If the restorers had got to that, nothing would be sacred, nothing would be left alone."

Mr Daley believes that international opinion is moving away from using picture restoration techniques on great works of art.

"It had seemed we'd reached a point where the whole heritage of the world's art was fair game for restorers.

"Now we may have turned that corner - and I think there's more anxiety about what's been done over the last 20 or 30 years," he told BBC News Online.


In an open letter to the Uffizi the group had called for the plans to be halted until the art world had been fully consulted - and had also threatened legal action.

"In the case of the Adoration, it was particularly disturbing as it was unfinished - it was a work in progress," said Mr Daley.

Uffizi director Annamaria Petrioli Tofani had maintained the restoration was needed because of damage to the wood on which the painting was based, and the weakening adhesion of the paint itself.

But after scientific tests the Uffizi has abandoned restoration plans.

The year 2002 marks the 550th anniversary of Leonardo's birth, in Vinci, near Florence.

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