Saved in WWII, ‘greatest picture in the world’ to be restored

Cecilia Frosinini, head of the restoration of “The Resurrection” wrote “One of my great loves come true,” on Twitter Sunday.

A painting by Italian Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca, “The Resurrection”, which escaped destruction during World War Two, is getting its own revival, Reuters reported.

Restoration of “The Resurrection”, known for its clarity, serenity and use of perspective, is now underway, after gradually becoming damaged, discolored and cracked by humidity and grime over the centuries.

Painted in the 1460s, the fresco was first rescued from artillery fire, when a British officer refused to shell the town of Sansepolcro, where the painting is housed. 

The restoration of the work, which includes a self-portrait of the painter as a soldier at Christ’s feet, is happening thanks in part to the philanthropy of Italian businessman Aldo Osti, who once worked near Sansepolcro. Osti, who now lives in Switzerland, supplied half of the project’s total 200,000 euro ($250,000) cost, according to Reuters.

Austerity measures put into place following Europe’s economic crisis have had a major impact on arts funding, forcing restorers to get creative on tackling jobs like the restoration of della Francesca’s fresco.

Cecilia Frosinini, head of the restoration team, gushed on Twitter about the two-year project on Sunday. She tweeted in Italian: “One of my great loves come true.”

In an essay titled “The Best Picture”, originally published in 1925, English novelist Aldous Huxley wrote about his journey to Sansepolcro and discovery of “The Resurrection”. According to Reuters, it was this essay, which made British soldier Tony Clarke defy his superiors and refuse to attack Sansepolcro.

“We need no imagination to help us figure forth its beauty,” Huxley wrote. “It stands there before us in entire and actual splendour, the greatest picture in the world.”

Support PBS NewsHour: