Leonardo masterpiece ‘at risk from unnecessary restoration’
By Alice Philipson in Rome St John the Baptist, Corriere della Sera.
ONE of the world’s leading experts on Leonardo da Vinci has accused the Louvre of putting the Italian painter’s final masterpiece at risk by carrying out unnecessary restoration work to “create publicity”. Restoration on the 16th-century painted a few years before Leonardo’s death in 1519, began in January and is expected to take 10 months, as layers of yellowing varnish are thinned and vanishing details of the saint’s camel-skin robe are made to reemerge. However, Carlo Pedretti, an emeritus professor of art history and chair of Leonardo Studies at the University of California, said the fashion for restoring Leonardo paintings was a “contagious mania” and accused the Paris museum of making a grave error. “I’m against the restoration in principle, unless it’s absolutely necessary for its survival,” Prof Pedretti told “One can’t clean in order to restore an image that would have been visible in Leonardo’s time. This is an error.” He warned the restoration team that “it wouldn’t take much to destroy St John”. “This business of intervening in Leonardo’s works is a contagious mania, it’s done to create publicity.” His comments come three years