Giotto’s “Fragment of the Vatican” Restored

Source: FSSPX News

The Museum of the Workshop of Semi-Precious Stones in Florence, Italy, at the beginning of October 2019, presented to the public the restoration of an unknown work by Giotto (1267-1337). Called “Fragment of the Vatican.” It comes from the ancient Vatican basilica built under Constantine the Great, which was demolished in the 16th century.

Giotto’s “Fragment,” painted in the early 14th century, was originally part of the ancient interior wall of the primitive basilica. It represents two figures of saints who have long been identified as the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. However, following a careful restoration carried out by the experts of the Florentine Museum, new iconographic data have been updated. The “Fragment of the Vatican” would actually represent, “most likely two saints: a bishop and a deacon,” say the specialists.

Ambrogiotto di Bondone—known as Giotto—was a Florentine painter and sculptor from Trecento. A shepherd discovered by Cimabue, of whom he became a student, Giotto is considered one of the markers of the renewal of Western religious painting.

After making promising debuts in Florence and Assisi, Pope Benedict XI—according to the historian and painter Vasari—asked Giotto to give him a proof of his talent, before entrusting him with the embellishment of St. Peter’s in Rome.

In order to comply, the painter traced freehand on a sheet of paper and in one go, a circle so perfect that he was immediately hired.

At St. Peter’s, Giotto is credited with the altarpiece of the former high altar, now preserved in the sacristy of the canons, and with the “Navicella,” a famous mosaic that once stood on the facade of the basilica and which now adorns the vestibule of the new building constructed in the 16th century.

The restored fragment is part of the collection of works that the Florentine painter made in the early 14th century in the Eternal City.