Restorers save Giotto frescoes in Assisi’s Chapel of the Magdalene

In Assisi, they are using medical syringes these days but it has got nothing to do with the ongoing pandemic situation. Restorers are using them to save priceless 700-year-old frescoes by Giotto. They are almost finished with a year-long project to clean and consolidate the frescoes in the Chapel of the Magdalene in the lower basilica of St. Francis that houses the tomb of the 13th-century saint.

Many years ago, during a periodic check of the frescoes, chief restorer Sergio Fusetti heard hollow sounds when he knocked on them, which indicated that the plaster holding them was gradually detaching from the walls.

Officials decided to carry out the first restoration of the frescoes in nearly 50 years.

The frescoes of Assisi depict scenes from the life of Mary Magdalene, including one where Jesus resurrects Lazarus.

Speaking about the restoration process Fusetti added that “After the cleaning, we do the consolidation. That is done by making tiny holes and using a plastic syringe … the same type used for injection of medicine on ourselves. We inject an acrylic resin bond and then we eliminate the old patchwork from previous restorations that were badly done or done with plaster. We re-do them using only sand and lime and then we move on to the final phase, the aesthetic one, that is done exclusively with watercolours”.

Owing to the regularity of earthquakes in the region, consolidating the frescoes is of prime importance in an area like Assisi since even a minor tremor can lead to the detachment of plaster.

The upper basilica, which includes Giotto’s most famous frescoes, was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1997 when the ceiling had collapsed, killing four people inside.

The Assisi basilica is not just a place of pilgrimage for the faithful but also a place of great significance for artists and art history students as it contains about 10,000 square metres of frescoes by Giotto and other masters such as Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti and Simone Martini.

Source –

#Frescoes #Giotto #Assisi #StFrancis #Restoration #Italy #Cimabue #SimoneMartini #PietroLorenzetti #Chapel #Magdalene #Jesus #Lazarus