Piero della Francesca’s ‘Nativity’ returns to the National Gallery

Follow Tag24 also on social networks

After months of restoration, the “Nativity”, by Piero della Francesca, dating back several centuries, is back on display at the National Gallery in London.

Fifteen months of meticulous conservative treatment were needed to restore the original beauty to the work.

The “Nativity” by Piero della Francesca is back on display at the National Gallery: the restoration interventions

Piero della Francesca’s masterpiece is among the most appreciated in the National Gallery in Londonwhere it has been kept since 1874.

The restoration interventions of the ancient painting were carried out by Jill Dunkerton, senior restorer at the Museum, who assured that she had carried out minimal interventions using very small and extremely precise brushes.

In addition to returning the colors to the painting very similar to the original ones, the restoration intervention has also revealed new details, solving, among other things, a long-standing mystery.

In fact, the work it is not an unfinished paintingas many have long believed.

An incorrect deduction, drawn mainly from the lack of shadows on the ground and the absence of a precise trajectory of the light.

Here is what Dunkerton herself explained to “The Art Newspaper” about it:

The lack of shadows cast in the image, previously seen as an indication that the image was unfinished can now be seen as an amplification of this visionary aspect”.

According to the restorer, what previously appeared unfinished was only the result of the “excessive cleaning” carried out during the previous restoration interventions.

The restorer mainly dealt with repainting the figures only partially, subtly veiling the lines of the drawing, without refining them too much.

Another truly surprising result is also the revelation of one of the less remarkable areas of the painting, namely, the part where the small gray stones of the stable structure appear behind the figures.

In particular, the gray stones of the stable they turned out to be of an anomalous glow, generated by an intense light source coming from above.

Here, in fact, the retouching of the abraded paint has shown a spot of lighter stones, leading the viewer to realize that there is, in fact, a beam of light which is radiated from a hole in the thatched roof of the stable.

After months of treatment, the masterpiece can now once again be seen in all its glory at the Museum of London, just in time for the holiday season.

The meaning of the work

According to researchers at the London museum, the “Nativity” by Piero della Francesca represents a profound and moving vision of birth of Christ.

The oil painting that stands out for the grace of its figures, its narrative power, the brightness of its colors and its spirituality shows the Virgin humbly kneeling on a rocky promontory, in adoration of the infant Christ.

In fact, the Baby Jesus lies on the ground in front of her, protected from the cold by a blue cloak as he stretches out his arms towards her, while the angels provide a polyphonic musical accompaniment.

Behind them, two shepherds, the elderly Joseph, an ox and a donkey witness the scene, which is inspired by the miraculous vision of Santa Brigida of Sweden.

Although the work was in poor state of conservation, it was purchased by the National Gallery in London in 1874.

At that time, in fact, the painting was heavily stained due to clumsy restorations and excessive abrasive cleaning interventions which had altered its initial representation. The wooden panel was also broken and the images of the shepherds had been worn down to the underlying design.

However, the London Museum bought Piero della Francesca’s masterpiece for approx £2.5 million and after various restorations, the painting is today one of the most loved of the entire gallery.

Piero della Francesca’s ‘Nativity’ returns to the National Gallery