A Plea to Preserve Italian Masterpieces

I often think about Italy. We know that Italy is the pioneer of the Renaissance Art Movement, and as an artist with a degree in art history and family living in Milan, I am worried about the future of this fascinating country. With everything else affecting the country, I am wondering if the government will be able to preserve the iconic artworks this country is so well known for, from the architectural masterworks like the Coliseum and Pantheon in Rome, to legendary paintings and frescos that adorn museums and churches in Milan, Venice and Florence.

 

The late seismic developments alone had a devastating effect on the country, when the earthquakes hit central Italy in August last year, with aftershocks lasting until the end of October. Last month, I had finally found time to subscribe for The Burlington Magazine, and received my copies of the journal’s March and April editions last week; in the March issue, I came across a great editorial piece by Alessandro Delpiori in which he discusses the subject.

 

Delpiori states that the quakes hit four regional administrations: the Marche, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo, and although these areas are not known for great museums, many of the towns and villages in this region have Medieval and Renaissance period churches and monasteries known for their fourteenth to sixteenth century frescoes and other artworks.

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The earthquakes claimed lives of three hundred people, and some towns, like Amitrice, were basically wiped out the day of the first earthquake. The damage many buildings and artworks in this area have suffered is equally of a devastating magnitude. While an estimated two thousand churches are wrecked or are unstable, and given all other economic, political and social challenges the country is facing at the moment, many art lovers wonder where the funds will come from for all required rebuilding and restoration work.

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San Benedetto basilica in Norcia. The building contained a large painting , St. Benedict and Total, by Filippo Napoletano, which was completed in 1621, and another painting from the mid-1600s, Madonna and Norcia Saints, by the Roman painter Vincenzo Manetti
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Amatrice’s town clock in the 16th century bell tower remains frozen at just after 3:36 a.m, the moment the quake hit

 

At the same time, lack of investment in restoration of these historically and artistically important edifices may lead to a slagging demand for tourism in those areas, which would be highly undesirable because it would lead to their further deterioration. I do hope that the government will make the restoration of the damaged region one of its priorities, and that future generations can experience and enjoy the stunning art this country has to offer for the years to come.

 

On a more upbeat note, earlier this week I attended a briefing and induction session for the upcoming en plain painting workshop that will take place in Florence this year at my mentor’s Andrew Lattimore’s house, and now I am really looking forward to returning to Italy again this summer to get inspired by its beautiful scenery and heritage (not to mention its great food and wine)! It was such a great workshop last year, where I had a chance to bond with fellow artists and learn new skills!

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