«... 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
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
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: http://www.nadiascardeoni.com
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.
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
Prototype image. Web: http://restaurovirtuale.splinder.com
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
- c.) the enlarged detail shows the characteristics of mechanical
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".
From digital research the traces of strands of hair intertwined according
to Antonello's style
have become visible.