The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, October 2, 2014


Archaeologists and Art Restorers Find Oldest Paintings of Apostles
Italian professor Fabrizio Bisconti shows a painting inside the catacomb of Saint Tecla in downtown Rome June 22, 2010. Archaeologists and art restorers using new laser technology have discovered what they believe are the oldest paintings of the faces of Jesus Christ's apostles. REUTERS/Tony Gentile.

By: Philip Pullella

ROME (REUTERS).- Archaeologists and art restorers using new laser technology have discovered what they believe are the oldest paintings of the faces of Jesus Christ's apostles.

The images in a branch of the catacombs of St Tecla near St Paul's Basilica, just outside the walls of ancient Rome, were painted at the end of the 4th century or the start of the 5th century.

Archaeologists believe these images may have been among those that most influenced later artists' depictions of the faces of Christ's most important early followers.

"These are the first images that we know of the faces of these four apostles," said Professor Fabrizio Bisconti, the head of archaeology for Rome's numerous catacombs, which are owned and maintained by the Vatican.

The frescoes were known but their details came to light during a restoration project that started two years ago and whose results were announced on Tuesday at a news conference.

The full-face icons include visages of St Peter, St Andrew, and St John, who were among Jesus' original 12 apostles, and St Paul, who became an apostle after Christ's death.

The paintings have the same characteristics as later images, such as St Paul's rugged, wrinkled and elongated forehead and balding head and pointy beard, indicating they may have been the ones which set the standard.

The four circles, about 50 cm in diameter, are on the ceiling of the underground burial place of a noblewoman who is believed to have converted to Christianity at the end of the same century when the emperor Constantine made it legal.

Bisconti explained that older paintings of the apostles show them in a group, with smaller faces whose details are difficult to distinguish.

"This is a very important discovery in the history of the early Christian communities of Rome," said Bisconti.

Laser "Surgery"
The frescoes inside the tomb measuring about 2 meters by 2 meters were covered with a thick patina of powdery calcium carbonate caused by extreme humidity and no air circulation.

"We took our time to do extensive analysis before deciding what technique to use," said Barbara Mazzei, who headed the project. She explained how she used a laser as an "optical scalpel" to make the calcium carbonate fall off without damaging the paint.

"The laser created a sort of a mini explosion of steam when it interacted with the calcium carbonate to make it detach from the surface," she said.

The result was stunning clarity in the images that were before blurry and opaque.
The wrinkles on St Paul's forehead, for example, are clear and the whiteness of St Peter's beard has re-emerged.

"It was very, very emotional to discover this," said Mazzei.

Other scenes from the Bible, such as Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead or Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, are now also much clearer and brighter.

"As far as paintings inside catacombs go, we are used to very faint paintings, usually white, with few colors. In the case of the St Tecla catacombs, the great surprise was the extraordinary colors. The more we went forward, the more surprises we found," Mazzei said.

The tomb, in a web of catacombs under a modern building, is not yet open to the public because of continued work, difficult access and limited space. Bisconti said the new discoveries will be made available for viewing by specialists for the time being.

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)





Today's News

June 23, 2010

Manet Sets $33.1 Million Record, Auction Hits Target as Two-Week Marathon Begins

Ghirlandaio and Renaissance Florence at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Archaeologists and Art Restorers Find Oldest Paintings of Apostles

Multi-Part Sculptural Project by Antony Gormley at National Galleries of Scotland

New Museum Presents First Survey of Brazilian Artist Rivane Neuenschwander

Shock and Contemplation in Images of the Crucifixion at Ben Uri Gallery

William Faulkner Collection Auctioned in New York City

AGO Appoints Elizabeth Smith As New Executive Director of Curatorial Affairs

Ignacio Allende Flags to be Exhibited at Palacio Nacional in Mexico

Fifty Important Works by Andy Warhol are on View at the Hay Hill Gallery

Julie & Edward J. Minskoff Art Collection Acquires Jonathan Prince Sculpture

Art Gallery of NSW on iTunes Connects with People All Around the World

Tate's Ben Borthwick Appointed CEO and Artistic Director of Artes Mundi

Mead Art Museum Publishes Book on Development of the Mead Collection for Amazon.com's Kindle e-Reader

Exploding Sound and Noise (London-Brighton, 1959-69 at Flat Time House

Group Show in Nassau County Museum of Art's Contemporary Gallery

Wall Street Sign Goes for $116.5K at Christie's

Local Architect to Design Saint Louis Art Museum Education Center

New York City Steps Up with $44M for Delayed WTC Arts Center

National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts to Renovate Galleries

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Roman Emperor Augustus' frescoed rooms unveiled for first time after years of restoration

2.- First stage of the restoration of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Adoration of the Magi' completed

3.- Hollywood actor and 'Conceptual artist' Shia LaBeouf runs around Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum

4.- Exhibition in Rome offers an original interactive journey to discover the city of Augustus

5.- Unique opportunity to see last two works by Rothko and Mondrian side by side

6.- Ai Weiwei explores human rights and freedom of expression in exhibition at Alcatraz

7.- UNESCO seeks answers from Egypt on more than 4,600-year-old 'damaged' pyramid

8.- International Center of Photography announces new Collections Center and Media Lab at Mana Contemporary

9.- British Museum explores the image of the witch and demonised female figures from 1450 until 1900

10.- 'Transformations: Classical Sculpture in Colour' on view at the Glyptotek in Copenhagen



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site