Restored Version of da Vinci's Saint Anne Finally Revealed
After a painstaking restoration project that begun in 2010 and was just completed in March 2012, the new face of Leonardo da Vinci's The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne has finally been revealed. The painting will be on display at the Louvre from March 20, 2012 until June 25, 2012. Not only will visitors be able to admire the newly restored tableau, they will also gain a new perspective on its history.
Created around 1508, the application of multiple varnishes throughout the centuries had caused the surface of the painting to become irregular and yellowed. This rendered much of the imagery, including Saint Anne herself, difficult to discern. A decision was therefore made in 2009 to correct the irregularities and remove some of the additional layers of varnish. A scientific committee of around 20 specialists was established to supervise the restoration.
It was during the most delicate stage of the restoration that tensions flared, resulting in the departure of two key committee members: Jean-Pierre Cuzin, the Louvre's director of paintings, and Ségolène Bergeon Langle, the head of conservation for all of France's national museums. Ms. Bergeon Langle expressed disagreement with the committee's decision to remove a varnish present on the body of the child, which may or may not have been part of the original painting. Despite concerns about preserving the integrity of the original painting, certain additions—like secondary tree trunks most likely added in the 19th century—were conserved by the committee. What remains is a masterpiece as rich in history as it is in artistic value.
Visitors staying at the Hotel Regencia can discover the Saint Anne's five-century-long journey from da Vinci's workshop to the halls of the Lovure through the exhibit's 130 documents chronicling the painting's conception and execution. These documents include preliminary sketches from the collection of Queen Elisabeth II and rough workshop versions of what would become one of da Vinci's greatest works.