basic history of western art

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The controversy surrounding the restoration of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and Michelangel’s “Sistine Chapel Ceiling” went on for a long time about rather restoring them was causing more damage to the original works of art. In the case of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling I personally believe it should have been left to age naturally. A 14 year restoration process that began in 1980, to clean the shoot and grime from centuries of candle burning and fix cracks in the ceiling, seemed to be more damaging than anyone thought. Of course the restoration was hugely praised by onlookers because the colors were more vivid and brighter than ever before and the ceiling itself was reinforced to prevent any future damage that may occur. However, while cleaning and restoring this work of art much of the smaller details were washed away. The restorers discovered that much of the shadows and detailing was painted on after the plaster had dried so it had been removed while the cleaning process took place. The Jonah figure, which was a focal point of the work, was dramatically diminished because of the lack of shadow and definition after being cleaned. The figure in the Jesse spandrel was now missing the detail of its eyes because they had been washed away with the rest of the dirt and grime and many other figures in the paining looked washed-out and rough. In my opinion the work isn’t Michelangelos anymore, not completely anyway. A lot of his work was stripped away by the restoration. Though, I cannot say the work was actually damaged but it also wasn’t repaired either. It may look brighter and more beautiful than before but all of the smaller detail that made it specific to Michelangelo is gone. Honestly, I believe that this specific artwork should have been left to age naturally without interference from any restores due to all of the detail that was lost by them.
Da Vinci’s The last supper seemed to have the same problems when it came to restoration. Though, most of the original artwork was chipping away and disappearing restoring it seem to cause more damage than actually repair. The painting started flaking away only 20 years after da Vinci painted it and it also didn’t help that the occupants of the church treated the painting with disregard. They also cut a door in the bottom of the painting removing part of the table and the feet of Jesus. In the 1700s Napoleon’s troops used in the room as a stable and threw fragments of bricks at the painting causing more damage to it. During World War II the church was bombed but luckily the painting survived. There were seven distinct attempts in all to restore the painting. In 1770 Giuseppe Mazza Re-painted all of the faces except three before being stopped and an 1821 Stefano Barezzi tried to remove the entire painting and put it on a canvas permanently damaging it. In 1947 Mauro Pellicioli started a multiyear process to reinforce the painting and return it to something resembling its original state. He adhered the flaking paint to the wall with a colorless shellac resin and scraped away earlier restoration work leaving only the areas covering empty spots where the work was lost or on salvageable. This restoration by Pellicioli was meant to be the final restoration. However, in 1978 Pinin Brambilla Barcilon started yet another restoration to the painting. Rather than attempting to retain the work of prior restoration she wanted to strip it all away and only about 20% of the painting had survived. During her process she viewed the painting with a microscope and then gently blotted it with solvent, using small bits of Japanese mulberry cloth. She was able to uncover many details that had been covered up by prior restorations. The most recent restoration of the last supper was completed in May of 1999. Restoring these painting because they are part of our history and we don’t want them to fade away seems like it would be a good idea. But in doing so the original works are lost and they are recreated into something and someone else’s work each time they are restored.
 
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