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A rare look at the faces of Santa Croce

Monday, April 11, 2011 - 02:04

Apr 11 - The restoration of the Santa Croce Basilica in Florence is offering art lovers an intimate view of the chapel's 600-year-old frescoes. Gemma Haines reports.

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For lovers of Italian art, it's as close as you can come to ascending a stairway to heaven and looking angels directly in the eye. The Santa Croce Basilica has just undergone major restoration, and for the first time, visitors will be able to don hard hats and climb the steps of scaffolding to admire the 600-year-old frescoes. The murals are the work of Agnolo Gaddi, the last major descendent of the Giotto school. SOUNDBITE: Mariarosa Lanfranchi, restorer, saying (Italian) "For me, the most fascinating aspect of my job is that you get very close contact with art works, with the brush strokes, the carvings, the corrections by the painters, the untainted colour spills or imprecisions, these minute details of the pieces which often escape the eyes of other art experts but are not able to hide from the restorer. They allow a certain intimacy with the painters, sometimes you think you can feel and understand what might have happened during the painting process and visualise that scene from many centuries ago in your mind." The chapel is made up of eight major panels, illustrating the 'Legend of the True Cross'. The $3.5 million restoration also reveals 18 life-size frescoes of saints, and three pairs of winged angels. But amid the friezes and decorative bands there are also dozens of tiny faces, which restorers believe are those of ordinary people, including the artist's assistants, work crews and characters from the neighbourhood. SOUNDBITE: Cecilia Frosinini, art historian, saying (English) "This is sort of a treasure hunt, people can come on the scaffolding and look for different surprises." A limited number of visitors will be allowed to climb the scaffolding, which will eventually be pulled down in 2012. Gemma Haines, Reuters.

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A rare look at the faces of Santa Croce

Monday, April 11, 2011 - 02:04