700-year-old fresco found behind wall of Italian church

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A beautifully preserved 700-year-old fresco has been found hidden behind a wall at an Italian church, officials have revealed. 

The fresco discovered in the small church of Sant’Anna, in Capri, Italy, by builders [Credit: EPA]

Builders found the crucifixion scene while carrying out restoration work on the church but it was kept secret so as to allow it to be fully recovered by experts. 

Although the image of Christ has been worn away the figures of Mary and St John as well as several angels can still clearly be seen in the semi circle fresco which also has an intricate border pattern. 

The team who recovered it say that it is of ‘considerable artistic value’ and similar in style the late style of Florentine pre-Renaissance master Giotto although it is not certain if he painted it. 

The fresco was found in the church of Sant’Anna, on the island of Capri which lies in the bay of Naples and until 1595 it was Capri’s main parish church. 

It is known that towards the end of his life Giotto, who painted frescoes across Italy, notably in Florence, Padua and possibly Assisi spent five years in Naples. 

However, few of his his works have survived in the city, only a fragment of a fresco showing the Lamentation of Christ in the church of Santa Chiara and the Illustrious Men at Santa Barbara Chapel of Castel Nuovo. 

In 1332 King Robert named him ‘first court painter’ with a yearly pension but a year later he left the city and travelled to Bologna and Florence where he died in 1337. 

Father Carmine Del Gaudio explained how the fresco had been discovered last July by the builders and said:’They were strengthening a wall when a piece fell away and they saw something behind it. They looked into the hole and saw something painted on a wall that had been blocked up over the years. 

‘While the Christ figure is now missing, the parts of the fresco with Mary and St John and several angels are pretty well preserved. 

‘The discovery of this work enriches Capri with another precious jewel, as testimony to its heritage dating back thousands of years.’ 

In order to recover the fresco the wall covering it was completely removed and experts from the superintendency of Culture in Naples were sent in to oversee the operation. 

Father Del Gaudio said he plans to give the superintendency the go-ahead to ‘completely restore’ the painting, ‘so that it returns to its original splendour and once completed it will be shown to visitors’. 

Author: Nick Pisa | Source: Daily Mail/UK [May 10, 2011]

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