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The "Virtual Restoration" of the portrait of Annunziata by Antonello da Messina  
Nadia Scardeoni (english translation by Christopher Intagliata)
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, 28th October 2005, n. 411


«... a few brilliant strands of black hair.»

«The pensive Sicilian child shrouds herself in an Arabian shawl that frames and casts shadow upon her marble-like face; her deep black velvet eyes cloud with listlessness and languor below her silken eyelids, gently touched by a flicker of light; slight wrinkles at the corners of her nose and lips perfectly complement the gentle squinting of her eyes, shielded from an unexpected flash of light. A shadow cuts across her brow and falls on the left cheek, darkening her neck and making its dark shadow stand out against the luminous contour of the chin, right cheek, and a few brilliant strands of her raven hair.»

(Excerpt from Venturi, 1915)

Adolfo Venturi's critique of the Annunziata, from an edition of the art series published by Rizzoli in 1952, was an exceptional and unexpected gift, erasing the last doubts about my analysis of Antonello da Messina's masterpiece.

Six years ago during the course of my studies, I began to search for a new method that could restore the image, at least virtually, to its original state, as it was painted by Antonello.  My method of "virtual restoration" sprang forth from this necessity, and I presented it to various institutional bodies appointed to the protection and conservation of works of art.

Finally, to begin the process of evaluating the necessity of an actual restoration, I have created a survey on the web with which readers can express their opinions:

This new study of Antonello's masterpiece, thanks to the second reading of Adolfo Venturi's critique, doesn't just corroborate my old thesis, but perfects my long journey in pursuit of the Annunziata, with an unhoped-for delicateness.  It is almost as if my long contemplation of the image, mother of inexpressible silences of the mind and heart, was able to evoke, through gentle motherly coaxing, its true face.

Nadia Scardeoni

Verona, 24 October 2005

Virtual restoration of the Annunziata by Antonello da Messina Plan by NADIA SCARDEONI

Computerized elaboration of the image finalized to detail restoration efforts.

Prototype image. Web:

Analysis: The hypothesis of an intentional scraping abrasion on the right side of the face of the Annunziata (point of view of the observer) is supported by the following findings:

  • a.) in the copy of Antonio de Saliba the shadow is intact.
  • b.) in the reproductions of 1907 the restoration is notable but shadow intact.
  • c.) the enlarged detail shows the characteristics of mechanical abrasion. The virtual restoration was created on the hypothesis of a mistaken interpretation in past restoration work.  The question that we have posed is really a cultural one: The virtual restoration project doesn't creatively reinterpret a questionable "blemish" but serves to restore that which presents itself as "documented truth".

New Research:

From digital research the traces of strands of hair intertwined according to Antonello's style have become visible.

Computer simulation of the restoration of the Annunziata
fig. 1
Computer simulation of the restoration of the Annunziata

Computer simulation: locks of hair of the Annunziata are visible through
	phothographic analysis
fig. 2
Computer simulation: locks of hair of the Annunziata are visible through phothographic analysis


Photo courtesy by author



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