Michelangelo’s Funerary Monument in Florence’s Santa Croce Restored to Its Former Glory

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 08:58
Basilica of Santa Croce Florence

Important restoration work on Michelangelo’s funerary monument in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence has been completed and visitors can now admire the Monument to Michelangelo in all its glory.

The restoration project, known as ‘In the Name of Michelangelo,’ was carried out by the Opera di Santa Croce, the non-profit organization that has been in charge of the basilica’s upkeep since the 14th century. The Opera di Santa Croce does not receive any state funding, and, to complete the project, it relied on donations which came from 132 donors from 14 different countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Philippines, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Peru, Czech Republic, Spain, UK, USA), for a total contribution of €121.000.

It took more than a year to complete the restoration of Michelangelo’s funerary monument, which consists of a marble sculpture and a fresco painting, both made by his friend and admirer Giorgio Vasari, a painter, architect, writer and historian best known for his important biographies of Italian Renaissance artists. Vasari was commissioned the work by Duke Cosimo de’ Medici after Michelangelo’s death in 1564.

The first part of the project was the restoration of Michelangelo’s tomb and was completed last March. Art restorer Paola Rosa worked to remove the layers of dust and grime, to reveal the original shine of the marble surfaces.  

The second part was the restoration of the altarpiece, Christ Meeting Veronica on the Way to Calvary. The figures in the painting, including a newly discovered portrait of Michelangelo looking toward his tomb, to signify that "the altar and tomb are meant to be read together" (as explained on the Opera's website), were obscured by layers of grime and yellowed varnish; the painting was further damaged during the 1966 Florence flood, leaving cracks and bubbling in the paint, reports the Opera di Santa Croce’s dedicated website. The altarpiece was cleaned and repaired thanks to the work of art restorer Tessa Castellano, and unveiled to the public on November 24.

The Church of Santa Croce in Florence houses precious Italian art from the 13th to the 19th century. It is the burial place of famous artists, scientists and thinkers, including the scientist Galileo, the writer Machiavelli, the poet Foscolo, the philosopher Gentile and the composer Rossini, besides Michelangelo.

Michelangelo’s memorial monument was completed in 1578. 66 members of the Buonarroti family are buried alongside him.

Vasari wrote Michelangelo’s biography while the artist was still alive, and in it he wrote that Michelangelo's work transcended that of any artist living or dead, and that he was “supreme in not one art alone but in all three.” In fact, the tomb features a bust of the artist, and three sculptures representing painting, sculpture and architecture, all arts in which Michelangelo excelled.

About one million people visit the Church of Santa Croce each year, one of the most popular monuments in Florence.

For more information, visit http://www.santacroceopera.it/michelangelo/