Gentileschi’s David and Bathsheba, Pitti Palace, Florence

A hidden treasure

One can never tell what treasures might be hiding in the Pitti, one of Florence’s loveliest palaces. Damaged by inappropriate storage conditions, the portion of the painting featuring Bathsheba’s face and body was in a particularly The restoration aimed at improving the composition’s legibility and focused on stabilizing the painting, especially in the numerous areas that were missing paint. Led by the director of Palazzo Pitti’s Palatina Gallery, the restoration was executed by a three-woman team, Elisabetta Codognato, Sandra Freschi and Nicola Ann MacGregor, who gathered daily in their Florence workshop to recompose the image, without adopting invasive techniques or relying on extensive repainting. Their task was to avoid reconstruction, which would ultimately alter the authenticity of the original work. At the very end of the project MacGregor discovered the painting’s co-protagonist—the tiny figure of David finally became visible once the painting had been brought back to its original dignity.