Restoration: Sleuthing Behind the Wall

Art historians have good reason to be thankful that the 16th century painter and architect Giorgio Vasari wrote about as well as practiced his profession.

For not only did he record all the gos sip, true and untrue; he also took time out to describe the works he most ad mired. Among them were Giotto's 14th century frescoes, presumably on the life of the Virgin, in Florence's Badia church. Particularly singled out by Vasari was the panel showing "Our Lady when she is announced."

Scholars had long had to take Vasari's word for it,...

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