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Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Carmine Crucifix returns to Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena after Restoration

Conducted by Muriel Vervat under the direction and scientific supervision of Stefano Casciu, Regional Director of the Musei della Toscana, the restoration of the 14th century Sienese masterwork by an artist considered to be one of the great masters of his age, took almost three years to complete.

When this temporary exhibition comes to an end, the Carmine Crucifix will return to Room 7 in the Pinacoteca, installed alongside other works by Lorenzetti (1290-1348), known chiefly for his fresco illustrating Good Government in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena’s town hall.

When the municipal authorities of Siena placed the Crucifix in the city’s Regio Istituto di Belle Arti in 1862, it became part of the body of work that was to make up the Pinacoteca Nazionale’s collection. From what is known of the Carmelite convent’s history, the Crucifix was painted c. 1329–30, a date borne out by its style. It appears to be a youthful work painted at a time when Lorenzetti was still under the influence of Giotto. However, certain features are characteristics of the artist’s mature work, including the elaborate decoration on the tabellone–the body of the cross–and Christ’s halo. In terms of its structure, even though it is now missing certain parts, it is within the context of crosses painted in Siena between the 14th and 15th centuries which were remarkable for their complex carpentry, polygonal star-shaped terminals, and moulded frames, facets of a Gothic style the artist further refined.

The restoration also offered an important opportunity for conducting a more in-depth study of the artist’s executive technique and careful reflection on conservation choices, particularly with regard to the gold background and the major paint drops affecting Christ’s body. The cross’s gold background is not merely a decorative choice. Restoration has also revealed it to be a sophisticated study on the approach to the diffusion of light on Lorenzetti’s part.

More information: https://www.friendsofflorence.org/

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Carmine Crucifix, (c. 1329–30). After 2023 restoration. Photo Serge Dominge.