March 22, 2001 08:59am
Italian Renaissance Venus Is Naked Once More
(ROME) -- After being covered up for centuries in a chaste, striped robe, a Florentine Renaissance Venus has regained her naked splendor.
``Venere e Amore'' (Venus and Love), a painting from the mid-1500s by Michele di Ridolfo di Ghirlandaio, was unveiled in all its glory by Italy's Arts Council Thursday after a long and complex restoration to undress the love goddess.
The reclining naked Venus was covered up in an orange and white striped dress by an anonymous painter in the early 1800s at the start of a period of restoration characterized by ''prudish rules of decorum for art,'' Angela Negro from the arts council told a news conference.
Ghirlandaio's Venus was based on a drawing by Michelangelo and shows Venus lying back in a lascivious pose, kissing an image of cupid.
Wrapped around her voluptuous body, the cupid figure does not notice Venus is stealing his arrows-- a moralistic reference to the fleeting nature of love that characterized works of Mannerist artists such as Ghirlandaio.
The painted clothing was removed using delicate solvents similar to those used to restore and uncover some of the nudes in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in the Vatican (news - web sites).
The painting is now on display in the Colonna gallery in central Rome.
Ghirlandaio was the adopted son and heir of the workshop of Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, son of famous Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio -- an early teacher of Michelangelo and author of several masterpieces in the late 1400s.