Mold ate away at Baby Jesus' cheek

'In the nick of time'

Siries’ masterwork was a ‘victim’ of the 1966 flood and no one knew it until nearly 50 years later. miraculously survived being immersed in mud when Florence’s 1966 flood ravaged the city, destroying over 14,000 works of art. The painting needed restoration, but no one knew how much, until the restorers removed it from its niche, fifty years after the disaster. Restorers discovered that the receding flood waters left extreme humidity in the church’s walls, creating a perfect breeding ground for mold and causing unforeseen damage to the painting’s niche. ”I have never seen such an extensive mold attack on a painting,” explains restorer Dr. Elizabeth Wicks, who together with Nicoletta Fontani, carried out the restoration, funded by the Advancing Women Artists and Dr. Jane Fortune. The restoration was led by Dr. Ilaria Ciseri, from the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle arti e paesaggio per la città metropolitana di Firenze e le province di Pistoia e Prato. ”We arrived in the nick of time!” says Wicks. ”Mold had eaten away at the canvas size and ground layers and large areas of paint were separated from the canvas and risked flaking. Over two-thirds of the plaster wall hidden behind the painting had crumbled.”