Press for David and Bathsheba (Florence, Italy)


To save Artemisia, American women mobilize

After its restoration - ‘David and Bathsheba’ to be exhibited at the Pitti
The canvas damaged by time, the tapestry that reproduced it

By Gianni Caverni

Article published in ‘L’UNITA’
Italian Daily Newspaper, November 28, 2008

At least six other versions of ‘David and Bathsheba’ were painted by Artemisia Gentileschi. This one—newly restored and exhibited in the Palatine Gallery’s Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti—can probably be traced back to 1635. Once can deduce this thanks to documents discovered by Lucia Meoni, which relate to the tapestry that Grand Duke Ferdinando II commissioned to Pietro Fevere, the court tapestry maker. He was to copy the painting that was lavishly exhibited in the Granducal apartment. This is half of the story.

The other part half is much more recent and it goes back to last year when Serena Padovani, director of the Palatine Gallery, received a proposal which offered to fund the restoration of this work by Gentileschi.

Though it had never before left the Palace, ‘David and Bathsheba’ had been stored in rooms that were so full of humidity, as to cause it grave damage. Its poor state justified the paintings placement in the ‘Soffittone’, one of the rooms Pitti used as a deposit. The Florence Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts proposed and financed the restoration. This association has the institutional aim of valuing and promoting works of art created by women.

From today until January 6, the canvas, whose conservation/restoration process, did not strive to hide the painting’s lacks, will be exhibited alongside its tapestry copy. It is ‘a Christmas gift-of-sorts’ as defined by Cristina Acidini, Superintendent of the Polo Museale. The Committee, presided over by Jane Fortune, wished to give this gift to the city.


The strength of women recuperate Artemisia

By Letizia Cini
Article published in ‘LA NAZIONE

Italian Daily Newspaper, November 28, 2008
The strength of women recuperate Artemisia

SEVEN WOMEN were involved in the restoration of a painting created by a woman artist regarding a biblical theme—that just so happens to center around a woman. ‘This ‘all-female medley’ is perfect for introducing an important project: the rebirth of the great painting, ‘David and Bathsheba’ by Artemisia Gentileschi, which was taken from Palazzo Pitti’s deposits and restored thanks to the generous initiative of the association The Florence Committee of Women in the Arts, which committed to financing the project,’ explains superintendent for the Polo Museale Fiorentino, Cristina Acidini, one of the seven prestigious speakers who participated in yesterday morning’s unveiling ceremony in the Palatine Gallery’s Sala Bianca.

This intense masterpiece was created by Artemisia Gentileschi—the most famous of women artists—during her sojourn in Naples in 1635. Artemisia sent the work to Ferdinando II de’ Medici who had it exhibited in one of his apartments in the Pitti Palace. Incredibly, for unknown reasons, the canvas later ‘disappeared’ for almost half a century in the deposits located in the palace’s attics, known as the ‘Soffittone della Reggia’. It was taken out on rare occasions to be exhibited in a few exhibitions, despite its poor state of conservation. The recuperation of this painting representing David and Bathsheba (Artemisia created at least six other versions that are hosted in other museums) enhances the study that The Florence Committee of Women in the Arts has promoted for years. They invested 20,000 euro for this restoration by Sandra Freschi and others. Another 5,000 went to fund the exhibition scheduled to take place from today until January 6, 2009 in the Palatine Gallery’s Sala Bianca.

‘Together with ‘David and Bathsheba’ by Artemisia Gentilechi, a tapestry (a copy of the painting) by Pietro Fevere, will also be exhibited until the Epiphany. It will then be returned to Palazzo Pitti’s tapestry deposit,’ explains gallery director, Serena Padovani.

‘This intervention project was absolutely necessary in order to resolve the grave state of the color’s degradation,’ explains, restorer Sandra Freschi. Finally, after almost 375 years, the semi-destroyed image of Artemisia’s ‘David and Bathsheba’ has been brought back to life. The restoration’s intent was not to cancel the signs of time and the grave damage that the painting underwent during previous, careless restorations. Its intent was to consolidate remaining color and improve the composition’s legibility, reducing its numerous lacks with ‘intoned neutrals’ to obtain an image that was re-composed but not repainted.

‘This safe-guarding operation was financed by the Florence Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C. and Florence). We are very happy and honored,’ says the soul of the association—the woman who is also its president and founder: Jane Fortune. American born and Florentine through adoption, she wanted to give a Christmas gift to the city of Florence. The Florence Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts has the institutional aim of restoring and re-valuing works of art by women in the Florence museums. In addition, the Committee recognizes women who create art today or who sustain and promote art by women in Florence. In 2006, The Florence Committee sponsored the restoration of ‘Lamentation with Saints’ a painting by Suor Plautilla Nelli, one of the first women painters of Florence, which is hosted in San Marco.


Artemisia’s women

Patrons and restorers save ‘David and Bathsheba’
La Repubblica, Italian Daily
November 28, 2008

Gentileschi’s canvas goes from the deposits to the luxurious Sala Bianca
By Mara Amorevoli

An all-female meeting. Between women artists and women scholars who deal in art. To celebrate the resurrection of ‘David and Bathsheba’, the canvas by Artemisia Gentileschi that had been damaged since antiquity—so much so, that it remained confined to the deposits of Palazzo Pitti. It was in the name of Artemisia—emblematic figure and female protagonist of the Caravaggio period—that the American mecenati of The Florence Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts of Washington, invested 25,000 euro to restore this work. Presented yesterday by the association’s president, Jane Fortune, with the American consul General in Florence, Mary Ellen Countryman, the superintendent Cristina Acidini and the director of the Palatine Gallery, Serena Padovani, the restorers and the tapestry scholar Lucia Meoni. From yesterday until January 6, 2009, this grand canvas that Artemisia painted in 1635 in Naples (she also did six other versions) which the Grand Duke Ferdinando wanted in his apartments at the Pitti, will be exhibited in the Sala Bianca next to its tapestry copy, which Pietro Fevere created 30 years later according to the taste of the times.

It is partly thanks to the tapestry, which was better preserved than the painting, that restorers, Elisabetta Codognato, Sandra Freschi and Nicola Anna MacGregor were able to reconstruct the pictorial surface’s plot, which had been ruined in several spots by humidity and four previous heavy-handed restorations. Once they had removed its yellow varnish and gray stucco, the canvas showed many lacks that have partly been left visible, thanks to reconstruction with layers of watercolors. ‘This choice was made contrary to the tendency to reintegrate missing parts,’ says director of the Palatine Gallery, Serena Padovani. ‘It still allows for a harmonious reading of this work in which Bathsheba is being served by a maid after her bath; she is seen by David who looks out from his far-off palace.’

The American patrons are satisfied; for some time now, they have financed the restoration and valorization of works of art by women in the Florentine museums, in addition to awarding three annual prizes to contemporary artists. At the end of this exhibition, the recuperated tapestry will return to the deposits, while the restored work, without its original frame, will be set up in a separate room, outside of the Palatine Gallery’s historical itinerary (created in the 1800’s). Nonetheless, it can be seen upon request, in Palazzo Pitti.

Read article in italian