Controversy Surrounding Basilica of Saint Francis Frescoes

Controversy Surrounding Basilica of Saint Francis Frescoes in Assisi

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© Pietro Crocchioni/EPA

The Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, Italy, had been greatly damaged during an earthquake in 1997. Its restoration was completed in 2012 — a date also marking the discovery of Giotto’s signature on one of its frescoes. Given the importance of the frescoes, a controversy ensued when Bruno Zanardi of the University of Urbino accused the Basilica restorers of damaging them. According to The Guardian, Zanardi found that “A fresco depicting the Virgin Mary fainting at the cross has reportedly suffered colour changes, particularly to the contrast of light and dark. Martini’s 14th-century saints appear flattened and lacking in detail, while the chapel’s central fresco has lost its top coat.” Sergio Fusetti (image), lead restorer at the Basilica, has strongly objected to the accusation, putting forward the fact that a number of culture ministers visited the site without criticisms. The Basilica of Saint Francis also features frescoes by Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti.

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