Moses - masterpiece by Michelangelo
After more than 15 years of restoration, the masterpiece of Michelangelo, jewel of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, is presented to the public with a revolutionary lighting system that shows it as its creator wanted to reveal it.
This is the culmination of more than 15 years of work: the restoration of Michelangelo's Moses, commissioned around 1505 and completed 40 years later for the tomb of Pope Julius II in St. Peter's Basilica. We can now admire the masterpiece of Michelangelo in the lighting conditions that the artist had wished to show this iconic sculpture.
Indeed, light has always been a key element of this absolute masterpiece of the Renaissance because the Carrara marble - of which it is made - has a very different color and rendering depending on the lighting conditions. Now, over the centuries, the qualities of refraction and reflection of the light of this marble had slowly deteriorated to the point that the Moses could no longer be admired as Michelangelo had conceived.
After three years of work on this part of the restoration, a new sophisticated lighting system based on LEDs was installed to recreate the light conditions that were in Michelangelo's original intentions, while avoiding alteration of the sculpture by the rays of the sun.
The revolutionary LED system developed by lighting designer Mario Nanni and restorer Antonio Forcellino allows to simulate, without altering the qualities of the marble sculpture, the different intensities and colors of light throughout the day, bathing the face of Moses a warm, orange light in the late afternoon.
In the 1860s, due to the construction of the University building adjoining the basilica, the only window that let in daylight, which directly illuminated the figure of Moses, had been walled up. However, Michelangelo had installed his sculpture precisely there so that this "divine" light illuminates the head of the prophet adorned with horns.
The majesty of the sculpture had been lost for many years in a twilight that tourists could break by introducing a few pieces in a light box.
"Michelangelo created his sculpture around the idea of ??light, an idea that was lost with the condemnation of this window. Because of that, it was unclear until today why his Moses turned his head, which was a way of symbolizing his relationship with God, through that divine light coming from that window, which illuminated his face. Explains Antonio Forcellino, the art restorer who worked on this project.
Antonio Forcellino says: "We know today that Michelangelo polished his sculpture after it was installed in the basilica, because he wanted to obtain its effects of refraction and reflection in situ, according to the real conditions lighting by the sun. He wanted to control the luminescence of the marble."
All the stake and all the interest of this restoration are there: not only Michelangelo's emblematic sculpture has regained its original luster, but also and above all it has rediscovered the light conditions according to which Michelangelo has completed his masterpiece.