The Uffizi was magical. From the intricate ceilings to the Medusa Shield, it was everything that I had ever imagined. When I saw that there was a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit was going to be in The Uffizi, I was ecstatic. Da Vinci has always been one of my favorite painters, and I have studied so many of his paintings throughout middle school and high school in my art classes. From his “Last Supper” to “Mona Lisa,” we studied his painting techniques and why his paintings were so successful. The part of the exhibit that stood out most to me was the restoration of Da Vinci’s “Adoration of the Magi” and the unfinished version of the painting itself.
Da Vinci had been given the commission to create “Adoration of the Magi,” but ended up leaving for Milan, leaving it unfinished. The sketches and the process of creating the actual painting were very interesting too, but the unfinished painting gave me insight into Da Vinci’s creative process. The unfinished painting showed the highlights and the shadows along with the sketched areas of the painting with no painted details. He had already created depth of field before adding any color. I found this particularly interesting because when I paint, I tend to paint the background first, then color, then highlights and shadows which seems to be the opposite of how Da Vinci was painting.
The restoration was carried out by a team at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure which is a research and conservation institute. In late 2011, the painting was taken to the institute and went through many extensive, detailed tests. They eventually decided to start the restoration in 2012. Before the tests, experts believed that the coloring of the “Adoration of the Magi” was intentional and a statement, but it turns out that with time, the painting yellowed and accumulated dirt on its surface. In the Da Vinci exhibit, there was a video showing the restoration process and how intricate it was. People used q-tips and small sharp objects to slowly and gently remove debris and paint that was added by painters other than Da Vinci. The restoration process took a total of five years, and the painting was finally back to its original colors.
I found it interesting and somewhat surprising that so much time, effort, and money would go into restoring one painting. It made me realize how important some paintings really are to culture and to history. Seeing all of the incredible art in the Uffizi inspired me to continue painting and look forward to my art classes next semester. I can’t wait!