At more than two metres square, the early panel painting is the largest surviving example of this type of work by da Vinci. Its composition surprises scholars, and the painting has earned a reputation of "one of the most enigmatic works by Leonardo." Discussions about its restoration have not abated over the years.
Restoration of any of da Vinci's works is anticipated as a "failure". Expert opinions always differ dramatically, and only a good reason allows to disturb the work of the master. In case of The Adoration of the Magi, the necessity to restore the artwork was evident due to problems with its wooden support.
Since November 2011, this large-scale job was in hands of the experts from the restoration Laboratories of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure at the Fortezza da Basso (Florence) who have inspected the painted surface as well. As a result, the restorers thoroughly cleaned the painting of the traces of previous restoration and reconstruction works. Now the figures became more clear and the painting got brighter.
No denial has been published yet to the allegations, stated back in 2002, that the painting was later finished by some other artist, because the masterpiece started crumbling without a varnish.
Apparently, hopes to find DNA traces of the Italian genius were dashed as well. Otherwise the sensational news should have already spread all around the world. To recall, The Leonardo Project, had hopes to reveal the artist's characteristics by searching out DNA from traces of fingerprints, flakes of skin and hair. The first tests were carried out on da Vinci's masterpiece The Adoration of the Magi. Every square centimeter of the artwork was examined under an electron microscope. The idea behind the Project, founded in 2014, has inspired and united anthropologists, art historians, genealogists, microbiologists, and other experts from leading universities and institutes in France, Italy, Spain, Canada and the USA.
Perhaps, hopes of the experts were tied to the results of another research published in 2016 — the successful tracing of 35 likely DNA relatives of Leonardo living today.
The exhibition “Magic Cosmos: the Adoration of the Magi Restored,” scheduled to open on March 28, 2017 at the Uffizi Gallery, is dedicated to the masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci. Alongside the unfinished artwork by the genius, there will be another famous painting with the same name and subject matter by Filippo Lippi from the museum's collection.
Fra Filippo Lippi is a Florentine artist and a sensualist monk, a teacher of Botticelli and the owner of one of the most adventurous biographies among masters of the Early Renaissance. See our separate article.
The Adoration of the Magi was commissioned to Leonardo da Vinci as an altarpiece by the monks of the Florentine monastery of San Donato a Scopeto in 1481. However, the next year, the master moved to Milan, leaving the work behind, unfinished. It passed into the hands of the ruling Medici family, who established their private museum in the Uffizi a century later.
... Leonardo hadn't returning, so the monks got Filippino Lippi to complete the painting. The exhibition in Florence not only reveals the details of the restoration, but also demonstrates the changes in the historical context and trends in art that took place in ten years or so, when these two artworks were created.
The display is on view since March, 28 till September 24, 2017.