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Experts edgy as Pope orders Michelangelo to come clean

Michelangelo's two last great frescoes are to be restored, but media reports are suggesting the art world is nervous about it, with experts having previously accused the Vatican of "overcleaning" works by the renaissance genius.

The Age reports today that the two giant frescoes are hidden from the public in a chapel in which the Pope prays and reads Mass to private audiences.

The frescoes - The Crucifixion of St Peter and The Conversion of St Paul - are faded after being exposed to dust and soot over centuries of candlelit prayer in the Cappella Paolina, close to the better-known Sistine Chapel.

The frescoes were commissioned by Pope Paul III after the artist had done the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo finished painting the frescoes at the age of 75. He died 14 years later.

When they were last restored, in the 1930s, several cracks were repaired. A source said a committee of art experts convened by the Holy See had decided in favour of the restoration. But he denied that the committee had been consulted in an effort to avoid a row similar to an earlier one that raged in the 1980s.

Critics then had claimed that the Vatican was "ruining" the frescoes on the Sistine ceiling by cleaning them too much.

Experts edgy as Pope orders Michelangelo to come clean (The Age 24/9/04)

The Crucifxion of St Peter
Cappella Paolina, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican
Vatican wants to restore Michelangelo's last frescos (Mail & Guardian, South Africa 23/9/04)
Vatican wants 2m to restore Michelangelo's last frescos (The Guardian 23/9/04)
Michelangelo frescoes to be restored (London Telegraph 23/9/04)

24 Sep 2004